Beeswax Reusable Food Wraps

Post UPDATED April 18, 2018

Beeswax reusable food wraps are reusable food wraps made from cotton, beeswax and a few other items that are meant to temporarily preserve and store food, replacing plastic baggies, plastic wrap and foil. For purposes of this review, I only purchased and evaluated the beeswax food wraps by Etee. There are several other options if you’re interested in investigating further, listed below. They all seem pretty similar to me. I had no idea when I first started that there were so many of these out there! You can also make your own if you’re so inclined. If you have used these or other brands please leave a comment. I’d love to hear if you like these and how much they have replaced your use of plastic bags, wrap and foil.

ABOUT THE PRODUCT

  • The use of beeswax as a preservative goes back hundreds and thousands of years. Its natural properties appeal to the eco-friendly crowd and its simple ingredients make it easy for individuals and entrepreneurs alike.
  • Wraps sold nowadays are made from organic cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resins. Some makers have included other ingredients as well such as hemp and spices to help with the smell.
  • The beeswax is naturally antibacterial; the jojoba oil is antibacterial and antifungal; and the tree resin is also antibacterial.
  • You use your hands to warm them up a bit and get them tacky, then lay them out, put in your food or place over your dish, then wrap them up just like plastic wrap. They need to stick to themselves to work (versus against a bowl or dish).
  • To clean, you rinse them in cold water (beeswax has a low melting point, so warm water breaks down the resins and beeswax) and if needed, you can rub them off with a soft sponge and mild soap.
  • The product lifespan ranges from four months to a year, depending on how often you use them.
  • They are biodegradable and compostable, and one site claims you can use them as a firestarter.
  • All manufacturers I found had video tutorials on their site on how to use them, along with stats on why you should be ditching plastic. Etee sends me emails periodically about both the wraps and plastic.

USING THEM

I used the Etee wraps for a month before writing this. It took awhile for me to get into the groove. I would scrunch them up in a ball and kind of squish them around for like 5-10 seconds and then unfold them. After using them for a while you can start to tell when they are tacky enough to stick and when they need more work. I lay them out on my counter and place whatever food item I’m wrapping and then fold it up. It takes longer than just grabbing a sandwich bag, but it’s still just seconds. It’s really easy to get them to stick to themselves so the real trick, I think, is to make sure you’re using one that is big enough for what you’re trying to wrap.

They worked for most of my needs but not all. This experiment showed me that I tend to use plastic baggies more to store toys and puzzle pieces than food. In place of plastic baggies I was able to use them for sandwiches, cut veggies like red pepper and celery, lemon wedges, avocado etc. And for those purposes they worked good. I tried using them for more snacky things that I would use a plastic baggie for such as popcorn and I didn’t like it. It felt too awkward because of all the crumbs. But to be fair, I only tried it once. In place of plastic wrap I used them for pretty much the same things as listed above. I could not use them to cover larger bowls, such as refrigerating dough overnight. But they could cover small bowls with soup, pasta that wasn’t finished etc. I don’t use foil very much for food preservation other than pizza and I used them for leftover pizza which worked good.

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Photo Credit: Kimberly Offenberg

ECONOMICS

The cost of an individual plastic sandwich bag is $0.02 each (Target brand, 150 count $3.39 + 7.5% sales tax). The cost of a large blue Etee wrap is $6.33 (3 pack, $19, free shipping & didn’t see a tax bill when I purchased them). This means you would need to use the wrap over 613 times to beat the cost of the plastic sandwich bag. Or more than once a day in order to use this within the one year lifespan of the product. I wrap sandwiches to-go about 50-60 times a year, so this doesn’t make economic sense for me. There are certainly other uses for these wraps, I just chose the sandwich option because the pricing was easy to compare. It’s possible that the saran wrap or foil breakdown would be more favorable but that is more math than I wanted to commit to botching up.

BUT DO THEY LOOK GOOD?

Absolutely. First impressions are an important part of product marketing and Etee has done a great job making these very appealing. Most of the other manufacturers have stylish options also, so it comes down to personal preference.

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Photo Credit: Etee

ANYTHING ELSE?

They are tacky and leave my hands sticky after touching them. I disliked that but I often found it went away before I ran to the sink to wash them. There is a smell to them and it seems to mellow out after using them for a while. In the newer wraps I noticed the smell being transferred to my sandwich, and didn’t notice that when the wraps were more worn. It didn’t totally deter me, but I would prefer if there was no smell. I used them for my daughters sandwiches at school and she never complained. I think if a kid doesn’t complain about smell that’s a good test. It also took me about a week or so before I realized I was supposed to wash them off with soap, so on some things like my red peppers they stained the wraps. And given that the food can stick to the wraps, I am inclined to always wash them with soap so the food doesn’t create any sort of bacteria or other yuckiness. Below is an avocado half I had wrapped in the fridge for two days. It had some slight browning but not bad. You can see the bits of avocado that stuck to the wrap.

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Photo Credit: Kimberly Offenberg

 WHAT PROBLEM IS IT HELPING TO SOLVE?

The reusable food wraps replace food plastic wrap, plastic baggies and foil. I had a hard time separating out the statistics of plastic wrap and plastic Ziploc bags from plastic grocery bags. At this point, I am assuming we all know that plastic is bad and a very small percentage of it is actually recycled. But here’s what I could find that seems relevant and important. If you want more reading after these, please visit the beeswax manufacturer websites. They all have done a lot of research in this area and explain why reducing or eliminating plastic is a good idea.

On the EPA website, they state that an estimated 80% of trash in the ocean started on land. In case you’re thinking that the ocean trash we hear about must come from cruise ships or something.

An article on the BBC website reveals that “(p)lastic has been found inside the guts of a third of UK-caught fish, including species that we regularly consume as food.” Yep, we are eating the very plastic we are throwing out. That’s one way to recycle it!

An interview with NOAA scientist Amy Uhrin on PBS reveals that over 600 sea animals have been known to ingest plastic from small creatures like plankton all the up to whales. The other concern is how the chemicals are leaching into these sea animals and being absorbed into their tissues. Which, again, even if you don’t agree with the environmental impact, this still means not only are we ingesting plastic but we may be ingesting the chemicals from these plastics through our seafood.

Plastic waste is found everywhere, including oceans, lakes, rivers, beaches and estuaries. In other words, our waterways are being overrun with plastic. Not just the ocean.

Our tap water AND a large percentage of bottled water likely contain microplastics, according to a study in the U.S. The World Health Organization is launching an investigation and will be conducting further research. If this turns out to be true, that is one of the scariest pieces of information I’ve heard recently. It feels like plastics are permeating every fiber of our planet and we are now ingesting it. This sounds like the basis for a sci-fi movie. And if you don’t care about the oceans or eat seafood, you at least drink water.

Microplastics not only come from larger pieces broken down, but also from microbeads that are present in exfoliating skin products and toothpaste. I was surprised to read this. I never considered I was using plastic to exfoliate my skin.

A 2017 survey found out that as many as 6.1 million Americans use 10 or more plastic wrap rolls every 6 months. In case that doesn’t sound like a lot, that’s about 24.4 billion square feet of plastic wrap (that’s my math and if it’s wrong it’s still going to be a lot of plastic).
If you wrap leftovers in foil, this can be a replacement for that. Is foil bad for you? Well, until this product review I had never even contemplated that. I rarely use foil for preserving leftovers but the debate is on regarding whether it’s okay to cook with it. Tear. However, that’s for another blog. In this instance right now the research seems to be inconclusive as to whether foil for storing cooled foods is bad for you.
If you’re interested in how plastic wrap is made, read here.

ABOUT ETEE

Etee (everything touches everything else) is made in Toronto. It’s not clear from their site how long they’ve been in business. I found out about them from an ad that showed up on my Facebook page. Smart marketing! So far they only have a few SKUs on Amazon and there are no single offerings. You can buy them in a group by size or as an assortment. Their wraps are the least expensive and they offer very vibrant, bold colors – a brilliant teal, lime green and blue. In addition to the typical materials used, Etee wraps are also made with soy wax, and cinnamon and clove (I’m guessing to help with the smell). They have a few other items they sell – cutlery and various bags, along with the wraps on their website.

COMPETITORS

There are several competitors selling reusable beeswax food wraps including Bee’s Wrap, Abeego, and Honeywrap. You can also make your own, as I mentioned initially.

DO I RECOMMEND IT?

I could see reusable wraps becoming more mainstream but I think some work still needs to be done to give them mass market appeal (easier solution to getting them tacky, make a size, no smell etc). I would also be concerned with any large scale production using beeswax as I am not convinced it would be sustainable, based on no real facts whatsoever. As they are now, I see them being popular with the eco-friendly crowd but probably not moving to Walmart anytime soon. However, if you’re considering trying them I would definitely recommend them. I see them being around in our house for awhile, even if they only get used for wrapping sandwiches.

UPDATE:

I had some follow up questions for Etee regarding whether the beeswax was sustainable and what they used for inks in their wraps.  Here’s what they had to say:

“[W]e are now being supplied by an Certified Organic supplier, and the criteria that we’ve now reached is:

  • Beehives located in natural settings – 4 miles away from any residential/ public yards & gardens, non-organic farms, golf courses and landfills;
  • Use NO antibiotics, pesticides or chemicals in any beekeeping practices;

  • Monitor and document practices on a regular basis;

  • Monitor bees and beehives constantly to ensure that no contamination occurs

  • Use only healthy bees from organic sources

All of our dyes are non toxic and free of heavy metals, AZOs and formaldehyde found in typical textile dyes. They also utilize very little water, of which a great portion is recycled. They are certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard – recognized as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres – which means they are also in compliance with social criteria. You can learn more here: http://www.global-standard.org/ .”

 

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