How to Preserve Autumn Leaves With Wax

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves With Wax

Fall is a beautiful time: The leaves change color, the air is crisper, and you can’t help wanting to take it all in. I always loved taking long walks under the changing leaves. The red, yellow and orange hues dazzle me and remind me of gems. My favorite always was the red leaves. Unfortunately, it feels like in the blink of an eye, the leaves are gone and so is fall. That’s why I decided to look into how to preserve autumn leaves with wax. Specifically beeswax, but if you’re vegan, I’m sure candelilla wax will work just as well.

Let me tell you – this method is so simple, and so darn efficient. I made some zero waste fall decor last year using this method and the red leaves still have color! Truly, the beeswax preserves them effortlessly. There are other methods of leaf preservation I’ve heard, but this one by far takes the cake. If you’re looking for a simple but efficient way to preserve the beauty of fall, and create zero waste doing it, you’ve come to the right place. On Instagram, a lot of people expressed interest in this DIY, so I figured I’d write a whole post about it.

In regards to zero waste, we often see artificial leaves on sale as decor during this season. These are typically made from some form of plastic, so it’s better not to buy them. If you’re looking to create some pretty fall decorations using “fake leaves”, just swap them out for these! These leaves look beautiful scattered on tables, in centerpieces, or as hanging leaf decor. When they start to look funny, or crumble, you can just compost them – no waste created. Without further ado, here’s how to preserve autumn leaves with wax.

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How to Preserve Autumn Leaves With Wax

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves With Wax

This DIY is super simple and so easy. It’s also a fun activity to do with your family, friends or loved ones. Go on a little fall hike together – somewhere there’s plenty of pretty trees. Look to the ground: What leaves have fallen in the colors and shapes you like?

Pick out as many leaves as you want. I didn’t pick up many for this DIY, but you can obviously go all out if you want. Consider bringing a reusable bag with you to store the leaves in. Just make sure there are no creepy crawlies on them!

I love this simple DIY because it’s incredibly low waste and connects me even further to the seasons, and our beloved Earth. There is peacefulness in living seasonally, and this activity forces one to slow down and just enjoy the little treasures nature has to offer.

DIY Fall Preserved Leaves

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves With Wax

Materials + supplies:

Note on packaging: If you can find the wax without any packaging, do it. Beeswax pellets tend to come in plastic packaging unfortunately. See if you have any local beekeepers near you that you can source the beeswax from, waste free. Just be aware they might give you a big beeswax block – which are notoriously hard to cut. Trust me, I have one, and I don’t recommend it unless you have the time to spare. However, these beeswax bars seem to be plastic-free and small, so they should be easier to cut, if you’d like to give it a shot.

Directions:

  1. First, you’re going to want to flatten your leaves out. You can begin by lying the leaves flat down, sandwiching them between two pieces of newspaper.
  2. Next, stack heavy books on top. Make sure to put one book underneath for support.
  3. Let it press for one to two days. After that, take them out and melt some wax in a double boiler. You can make your own double boiler by filling a pot with approximately 1 cup of water, bringing it to a boil, then placing a glass bowl on top of it. Bring the water to a simmer and add your wax of choice to it. Use as much as you like, depending on the amount of leaves you have with you. I made about 7 leaves and used about 2 tablespoons of beeswax which was more than enough.
  4. Once the wax of your choice is melted, carefully dip your leaves into the wax one at a time. Hold your leaves over the wax until it dries and doesn’t drip anymore. They dry rather quickly!

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves With Wax

That’s it! After the leaves are dry and coated lightly in wax, you can use them however you see fit. I personally made mine into a hanging leaf display. Instant fall decor!

Feel free to get creative, or keep things simple. These look beautiful scattered on windowsills, tables, desks or in centerpieces too.

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves With Wax
Left, how the leaves look now. Right, how the leaves used to look. After a whole year, there’s still red! It’s just darker.

The most amazing thing about this simple DIY is that it lasts. I made these beeswax coated leaves back in 2019, and they’re still holding up beautifully in 2020!

After doing a lot of research, I learned how hard it was to really preserve the beautiful red colors leaves create. While my leaves don’t look as vibrant as they once did, I’d say they still hold a lot of color! The red is still very much so there – just a bit darkened, like a wine red. I’ll take it. 🙂

You can compost these whenever you want and just repeat again next year, or save them like I did. Either way, I hope you enjoy this DIY. If you choose to give it a go, feel free to take pictures and tag me in them on Instagram. I love seeing you guys complete my DIYs!

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves With Wax

Will you try to preserve autumn leaves with wax this fall?

For more autumn inspo, check out these fun zero waste fall decor ideas.

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By Ariana Palmieri

Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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