There’s no denying the convenience of disposable packaging, but its benefits are fleeting and the consequences are long-lasting. Given that approximately 10 million pieces of plastic end up in oceans every year, every little thing we can do to reduce that number matters. And the best place to start is your own home, or the kitchen, to be precise.
What are beeswax wraps?
Beeswax wraps are becoming more and more popular as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wraps used to cover food. They are typically made of organic cotton coated in a mixture of beeswax, a plant-based oil, and tree resin. Beeswax wraps are a natural way to store and preserve your fruits, veggies, and bread, among other things.
The benefits of beeswax wraps
Beeswax wraps have multiple uses and they can be of great help in the kitchen, not to mention the environmental benefits. Let’s take a closer look.
They are biodegradable
Since they are made of organic ingredients, beeswax wraps are fully compostable. This means that they will eventually break down into natural elements, without releasing any toxins into the landfill. Once your beeswax wrap reaches its expiration date, you can cut it into stripes and put it into your compost bin.
They are versatile
Beeswax wraps work great for covering fruits, vegetables, bread, and leftover food. Unlike plastic wraps, which trap heat and cause mold to accumulate, beeswax wraps are breathable, so your food will stay fresh longer. That said, there is a limit to how long these wraps can work their magic. Generally, it’s recommended that you use them to cover food that you’ll eat within a few hours or the following day.
Beeswax wraps need to be washed in cold water (to prevent the wax from melting), so they’re not a good choice for storing raw meat and fish, as they can’t be properly sanitized. They are not airtight, but they are watertight, so they can be used as lids on top of jars or bottles.
They are economical
Beeswax wraps are reusable and with proper care and maintenance, they can last for six months up to a year. Although they can be pricey, beeswax wraps can help you save money in the long run, as you’ll be spending less than you would on single-use plastic wraps.
Even with the right care, your beeswax wraps will wear out over time. When the cracks start to appear, you can do a light warming of the coat to fill the gaps and restore your wraps’ former looks.
The downsides of beeswax wraps
Beeswax wraps are extremely useful, but not ideal. Here are some things to bear in mind before you decide to make a purchase.
They require the right temperature
Beeswax melts at high temperatures, so your wraps must be stored in a dark place, away from direct sunlight. If the wraps start melting while in the package, it can be tricky to pull them apart. As heat doesn’t sit well with them, you shouldn’t use beeswax wraps with food or liquids that are very hot.
However, cold temperatures can also pose a challenge, as the wraps may become too rigid and difficult to wrap around food. In this case, you can place the wraps under lukewarm water to restore their flexibility. Beeswax wraps are best suited for room temperatures, Which limits their scope of use.
They can become moldy
This is less likely to happen with brand new wraps, but after prolonged use, water can break through the coat and reach the fabric, causing mold to build up. For this reason, it’s essential to properly dry off your wraps after washing.
Ethical issues of using beeswax
Beeswax is naturally produced by honeybees and they use it to mold their honeycombs. There are various ways to harvest beeswax from honeybee colonies, but not all of them are considered ethical. Beeswax is often obtained by melting the entire beehive, and the process of isolating the hive often involves mishandling the bees.
Ethical sourcing of beeswax involves keeping the act of harvesting away from the hives and making sure no bees are harmed in the process. To be sure a brand is using ethical beeswax sourcing practices, you can look for certifications such as Green America Certified, Leaping Bunny, and Cruelty-Free International.
Vegan alternatives to beeswax wraps
Since beeswax is an animal by-product, vegans may refrain from using beeswax wraps. People that are allergic to beeswax also won’t be able to use them, but luckily, there are other options. Vegan food wraps are made of plant-based waxes, such as soy wax and candelilla wax. Other vegan-friendly wraps may also contain waxes such as sunflower, rice bran, and sumac. Like beeswax wraps, vegan alternatives contain organic cotton and plant-based oils for stickiness, they are flexible, reusable, and sustainable.