Learning how to preserve Fall leaves with beeswax is one of the most beautiful ways to keep the color around for a little bit longer. This project works with many types and sizes of leaves. Choose a colorful mix and use them to decorate your home – and in other craft projects. They make beautiful seasonal garlands or wreaths.
Preserving Fall Leaves with Beeswax
Beeswax is a natural wax product that is made by honey bees. A wonderful substance for crafting, beeswax has a low melting point. This makes beeswax easy to use for so many craft projects.
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Anything created with beeswax seems to have a magical quality. It just smells so good! Enjoy late Fall into the Christmas season with this fun beeswax craft.
With proper supervision, you can even get the kids involved. You can purchase beeswax online or perhaps buy some from a local beekeeper.
How Beeswax Preserves Leaves
Fall leaves are so beautiful on the tree and when they first fall to the ground. But after a few weeks and some rain, they begin to mold or dry up to a drab brown.
We can delay that process by dipping our leaves in wax. Beeswax seals in a small amount of leaf moisture. This keep them pliable and looking vibrant for weeks (or months) longer than usual.
Your Fall display will last much longer when you use waxed leaves as part of your home decorating plan.
This project can be part of an educational project for kids. Children can identify the tree that each leaf represents.
And, older students enjoy learning about how the chlorophyll that makes leaves green breaks down as the tree sap falls – allowing the Fall colors to show.
Selecting Leaves for Dipping
The first step is to choose some colorful Fall leaves. You may use any color and combinations of colors. Red, yellow, orange and many vibrant colors will be on display in a diverse forest.
It’s okay to include a few greenish ones for contrast. Try to vary the type of leaf too. A combination of leaf shapes adds interest to your display.
Large single leaves look nice but choose some with small compound parts. This provides a lot of variety in your display and looks more natural.
However, you must remember that you will be dipping them in a vat of melted beeswax. The larger leaves will require a larger (or deeper) pot of wax!
Select Pliable Leaves for Wax Crafting
When selecting leaves for preserving with beeswax, choose ones that are colorful and pliable. You want most of the green color to be gone but the leaves should not be too dry.
If the leaf crumbles easily in your hand, it is too dry to use. Leaves that fold gently without cracking are at the best stage for this project.
Another tip, choose leaves that will lay flat naturally. Some plants have more recurve in their leaf structure than others.
Even though I prefer leaves that naturally lie flat, I have enjoyed experimenting with curvy ones as they add natural beauty to a display.
Melting the Beeswax
One of the things that makes beeswax so craft friendly is the low melting point. However, caution should be used when melting beeswax or any other craft waxes.
Beeswax is flammable and can catch fire if over-heated. That’s why it is good to use for homemade fire starters)! The flash point temp is around 400° F. Never leave melting wax unattended.
Use a candy thermometer to maintain a safe temperature! Don’t be afraid of the beeswax, but give it the respect it deserves.
Many beekeepers use raw wax straight from the hive. It has often been run through a solar wax melter once and then cleaned again using water or filtering through material.
Melt beeswax in a pot you plan to use for crafting and you don’t plan to use for anything else. Cleaning beeswax out of a pot can be done but I do not recommend it.
The safest way to melt beeswax is the double-boiler method. This is where you put a smaller pot containing the wax inside a larger pot with water. This reduces the danger of overheating your wax as the heat is more uniform.
Melting beeswax in a crock pot is a good option -but it does take longer. And of course, your crock pot will not be suitable for anything other than melting wax afterwards.
Other Wax Melting Methods
Some crafters use a deep fryer pot. The fryer works great but is very dangerous without continuous supervision. Be safe and use the lowest temperature setting possible.
If using a fryer, always triple check your temperature setting. When want is just warm enough to melt the wax. Around 160° F seems to do well. Do not rush the process.
How to Preserve Fall Leaves in Beeswax
- 1 piece Parchment Paper or equivalent
- 1 pound beeswax
- 12 pieces Fall leaves
- 1 piece string or yarn 12" long
- Melt beeswax in a double boiler of your choice. The size of this container depends on how much wax you have and how large your leaves are.Tie a small piece of string to the leaf stem for ease of dipping. This is especially true when coating leaves in beeswax with children as participants. Otherwise, carefully dipping the leaves and coating most of the stem will serve the purpose.Take each one of the leaves and dip them quickly in the melted beeswax. When you pull the leaf out hold it firmly and give it a few shakes – allowing any excess wax to drip back into the pot.
- Hold the leave above the wax pool for a few seconds. Then lay it flat on a piece of wax paper, aluminum foil, or parchment paper. It should cool for several minutes ( 5 min). Now gently pick up the leaf and repeat the dip and shake process. Place your finished leaf out flat once again to cool.A cloudy coating of beeswax will be visible on the surface of the leaves. Don’t worry. If you performed the dip process correctly, the wax will become clear as it cools.
- Do not over heat your beeswax. Beeswax melts at a temperature of about 144° – 147 °. It is not necessary to heat your beeswax to a high temperature.
- When beeswax reaches a temperature of around 180° F it will darken and become less appealing.
- You want the wax to be completely melted but at its lowest temperature. If it begins so skim over on the top, it is not quite warm enough.
Use Preserved Leaves for Decorating
After a few hours of drying time, you will have a selection of sturdy, colorful fall leaves to use for decorations. This is a great lesson of sustainability for children.
A voice from the past when home decorations were made from natural materials that were readily available from nature.
Beeswax coated leaves can be part of a Fall table display. Or brighten up any window by hanging your leaves with string or yarn.
Now while you have that melted beeswax handy – learn how to make these DIY Herbal Beeswax Sachets and you will have a beautiful sweet smelling display.