A long time ago, my dad’s colleague, who has an apiary, gave him some beeswax to give to me. I’d made some hand butter before, and was keen to try to make lip balm as well. The lip balm was a bit of a failure, which is why I haven’t written about it… When I saw this facebook post, but I decided to use the leftover beeswax to make some reusable waxed sheets!
The reason my lip balm was a total failure was that I used the wax as it was given to me. It turned out to not be pure wax, but instead a mixture of honey, wax and random bits of hive and bees. So step zero for me was to make pure beeswax out of the mixture I’d been given.
0. Extract beeswax
Melt the beeswax mixture
You’re definitely going to want to use a pot set aside for this purpose only. I reused the one I used for my hand butter and have set aside for these types of things only.
From everything I read, it’s important to keep the mixture at a temperature high enough to melt it (around 65°C/150°F) but not so hot as to boil it. If you heat beeswax above 85°C (185°F), it could change colour.
Separate the wax
I found an old milk container in the recycling box and used that to collect the strained mixture. I used a few layers of cheese cloth as my strainer.
Once the mixture has cooled, you’ll have a layer of wax and, as an added bonus, a layer of honey. The milk container worked well as a vessel since I could rip it apart to get to the wax.
I found the first time I strained the mixture the resultant ‘wax’ was still quite flexible and contained other things, so I strained it a second time and was much happier with the results.
I saved the honey from the second time through the strainer, and it was delicious!
1. Cut fabric into squares
I used some leftover cotton fabric I had from my drawstring bags to make my waxed sheets. I cut them to be about 30 cm (15 inches) square, but the size isn’t too important.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or other protective covering before putting the fabric squares on it. As with the melting pot, if the wax gets on your regular baking equipment, it shouldn’t be used for baking again!
2. Grate beeswax
Since I didn’t have a second grader and didn’t want to buy one and store it at my parents house, I instead used some scissors to cut the wax into small pieces and spread them over the squares of fabric.
Knowing the amount of wax per sheet is a bit difficult to figure out. I put too much on in my first attempt, but it’s not too hard to fix, as you’ll see from step 5!
3. Put in the oven
Heat the oven to 65°C (150 °F). As noted above, if you heat the wax above 85°C (185°F) discoloration could occur.
I found this step didn’t take too long, maybe 10 minutes at most.
4. Let cool
Once all the bits of wax have melted, take them out of the oven and let them cool.
5. Fine tune wax
From the top, my waxed sheets looked great! From the bottom, it was clear I’d put far too much wax on the two sheets I had.
The fix for this problem was really easy! I had 2 extra squares of fabric already cut, so I just put them under the original ones and put them back in the oven to melt again.
To use these sheets, just place them over the container you’d like to cover, warm the sheets a bit with your hands, and mold into place. When you’re done, they should be cleaned with warm (not hot) soapy water and hung to dry. I wouldn’t recommend putting them into the washing machine or dishwasher for fear the wax would melt and get all over everything.