Here’s a fun way to keep your food fresh! Make your own food wraps, and reduce the amount of plastic wrap you use.
Safety: This activity uses a hot iron to melt wax. Ask an adult for assistance.
You will need
- Washed cotton cloth
- Beeswax pellets*
- Baking paper
- Clothes iron
- Ironing board
*Note: If you can only find bars of beeswax, ask an adult to grate the beeswax with a cheese grater.
What to do
- Cut out a piece of cotton cloth that’s the size of the food wrap you want to make. If you plan to cover sandwiches, 25 cm x 40 cm is a good size.
- Cut two pieces of baking paper, each bigger than the piece of cloth you cut.
- Get out your ironing board.
- Put one piece of baking paper on the ironing board, then put the cloth on top of the baking paper.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of beeswax pellets over the cloth, trying to spread the pellets evenly. Don’t add too much wax. It’s better to spread the pellets thinly and add more wax later.
- Put the second piece of baking paper on top, covering the pellets.
- Plug in your iron, set the temperature to synthetic and turn the steam off.
- Run the iron over the top of the baking paper to melt the wax into the cloth. You can use the iron itself to help move the wax around and make sure all the cloth is waxed.
- When all the wax is melted, wait for a minute and then peel off the top piece of paper. Look for any coloured patches that don’t have enough wax in them.
- Sprinkle extra wax onto the patches, put the paper on top of the wax again, and iron.
- Wait a minute and as a final check, look at the reverse side of the cloth for any patches. If you spot any, fix them as before with extra wax (see Step 10).
Using your wraps
Your beeswax wrap is great for wrapping sandwiches, vegetables, fruits and cheeses, and for covering containers. You can make your wrap stick to itself by warming it with your hands while pressing the layers together. Or you can simply wrap it with a rubber band!
Note that these wraps are NOT suitable for wrapping hot, wet or sticky foods. DO NOT use these wraps for raw meat or fish – it’s not safe.
Caring for your wraps
These wraps can be reused many times. Clean your wraps with cool, soapy water. Hot water will melt the wax and ruin your wrap!
Wraps are expected to last 6 to 12 months if cared for, but should be disposed of when worn out.
Air can cause all kinds of problems for food. If you leave a slice of bread on the bench, water inside the bread will evaporate into the air, making the bread stale and dry. If you leave a packet of crisps open, the opposite happens. Water in the air gets absorbed into the crisps, making them soft and soggy.
In both cases, wrapping your food can help protect it. There will still be a small amount of air inside the wrapping, but that air can only hold a tiny bit of water. So bread will stay moist for longer, and crisps will stay crunchier.
Remember that wrapping a piece of bread won’t completely stop it from getting stale. Scientists don’t completely understand how bread goes stale, but at least some of the water can be absorbed by the crust.
There are plenty more reasons to keep your food under wraps. It protects food from things floating in the air, including bacteria and insects. Your meal is a great place for them to multiply, but a wrap is a barrier to help keep them out. Plus, wrapping your food limits the amount of crumbs you have to clean up!
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