How to Wax Cheese Step by Step

Several weeks ago I had a chance to experiment with waxing cheese. I really had no idea what I was doing, but I’ll show you how it went anyway. Just for fun. And it was fun. Probably too much fun.

DIY waxed cheese
DIY waxed cheese

Why Wax Cheese?

The biggest benefit to waxing cheese is that when done properly it can be stored unrefrigerated for many years. Some places I’ve read have stated it will last up to 25 years. Some sources have said indefinitely.

The flavor of the cheese will sharpen as it ages, and it may get some mold on it, but it will still be edible even after long periods of storage. The trick is to keep it cool.

Yes, you can can cheese. And you can dehydrate it. But waxing cheese will keep it in a fresher, more natural state.

Does Waxing Cheese Preserve It?

The short answer – yes!

Waxing cheese is a practice that has been around for centuries. Cheese makers will coat their cheeses in a thin layer of wax to preserve them and prevent mold growth. The benefit of waxing cheese is that it allows the cheese to age without drying out or becoming mushy.

Waxing also protects the flavor of the cheese by preventing unwanted flavors from permeating the cheese. In addition, waxing prevents the loss of moisture, which can cause the cheese to become crumbly.

What Kind of Cheese Can Be Waxed?

Hard cheese is typically the best for waxing. In particular, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cheddar, Swiss, Romano, Gruyere, and Colby.

Homemade cheese or artisan cheese will be better to wax than already refrigerated store-bought cheese. Also, you want to watch that the cheese you will be working with isn’t more than 40% moisture.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from

Usually cheese bought in the grocery store is an already aged to perfection finished product. Waxing it in small pieces may cause some problems. If a cheese is not turned on a regular basis gravity will cause all the moisture to fall to the bottom causing a mushy mess under the wax. We would suggest you buy whole wheels or make your own cheeses and after waxing them, turn over at least once a week to prevent problems. We also suggest you air dry your cheese for 2-3 days prior to waxing.

Can You Use Any Wax on Cheese?

So what kind of wax should you use? Here are a few popular options.

Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax comes from the leaves of the copernicia prunifera, a fan palm tree that is native to Brazil. It’s the hardest natural wax available, which makes it ideal for use on cheese. Carnauba wax is also moisture-resistant, meaning it will help keep your cheese from drying out.

Finally, carnauba wax has a high melting point, so it won’t melt when exposed to heat (which makes it great for grating over pasta!).


Beeswax is another popular choice for waxing cheese. It’s made by bees from tree resins, flower nectar, and pollen – making it a completely natural product.

Beeswax is also moisture-resistant and has a high melting point, making it ideal for use on cheese. One downside of beeswax is that it’s not as hard as carnauba wax, so it may need to be reapplied more often.

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax is made from petroleum and coal tar – making it a completely synthetic product. Paraffin wax is very hard and has a high melting point, making it ideal for use on cheese.

One downside of paraffin wax is that it’s not as moisture-resistant as carnauba or beeswax, so your cheese may dry out more quickly if you use it.

How to Wax Cheese: Step by Step

I’ve been wanting to learn how to wax cheese for a while now. Every homesteader needs to know how to preserve cheese, right?

So when I recently lucked up a really good deal for a 5 pound block of Colby, I thought I’d take an afternoon to try something new and wax it!

This was my beautiful block of Colby. I think it was locally made. Who really knows. It was a good deal though, so I grabbed it up from a friend’s co-op:

Colby cheese
Colby cheese

I thought about freezing it. But what fun is that? I’ve had a block of cheese wax sitting in my cupboard for a couple of years now, so this was the perfect excuse to get it out and play a little.

Instead, I decided to give waxing a try. Here’s what to do…

Cut the Cheese Up and Let it Dry

The first thing I did was cut the block into large cubes, and allowed them to air dry for a couple of days:

four blocks of air-dried Colby cheese
four blocks of air-dried Colby cheese

You want to let the outside of the cheese harden, so there isn’t moisture trapped underneath the wax.

Moisture can lead to a variety of problems, including mold growth (mold spores proliferate when there’s moisture) as well as bacteria development.

Figure Out What Wax to Use

I received a 1 lb. block of red cheese wax for my birthday a couple of years ago, so this is what I used:

cheese wax in packaging
cheese wax in packaging

Cheese wax is reusable, which is great. I’ve read other people say they wax their cheese with beeswax.

You could also use paraffin wax. I’ll address the many other types of wax you can use in greater detail a bit later in the article.

Melt the Wax

When you melt the wax, you must do it in a double-boiler:

melted cheese wax in double boiler
melted cheese wax in double boiler

I put a pot with the wax in it over a pot or bowl of boiling water. This prevents the wax from getting scorched as it melts.

When the wax was melted, I simply dipped each chunk of cheese in to coat:

dipping cheese in wax by hand
dipping cheese in wax by hand

Some places I read said to brush a vinegar wash over the cheese to inhibit the growth of mold. Some sources recommended rubbing it with salt. Some experts didn’t recommend doing anything in particular, so I opted not to do anything extra.

Dip the Wax and Allow the Cheese to Harden

One dip, and then I set the cheese on a paper towel to allow the wax to harden.

top halves of pieces of cheese covered in wax
top halves of pieces of cheese covered in wax

It only took a minute or so for the wax to cool and harden. Not long.

Next, I dipped the other side in the wax. You will likely only be able to get half of the cheese in the pans of wax at a time, and that’s fine – just make sure you get the entire block of cheese covered in wax.

cheese that was just waxed
cheese that was just waxed

After dipping the first time, I quickly realized that my chunks of cheese were too big for the wax to coat completely with a dip on either side. Should’ve thought that out a little better.

I tried to paint the wax over the exposed cheese. Not such a brilliant idea:

painting cheese with wax
painting cheese with wax

Dip Again Until Coated

I ended up just dipping all sides of the cheese in the wax, until everything was coated. It wasn’t evenly coated, but it was good enough to preserve the cheese.

waxed cheese finished
waxed cheese finished

I probably dipped each side about 5 times. They weren’t perfect, but they were so much fun to make!

In most cases, you can smooth the bumps out later on or remove excess wax with a knife after dipping, if you need to. It won’t hurt anything to leave it there, but if it bothers you for the purpose of aesthetics, go ahead and fix it later on.

Save the Leftover Wax

I poured the leftover wax into a glass jar for future use. When I’m ready to use it, I’ll just heat the jar of wax in a pot of hot water, and pour it into the now-designated-cheese-waxing-pot. As for the brush – forget about it.

Other Tips for Waxing Cheese

Waxing cheese is a bit of an art form, but with a little practice, anyone can do it. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Be Careful With the Vapors from the Wax

One thing to keep in mind when waxing cheese is that the vapors from the melted wax can be dangerous if inhaled. That’s why it’s important to work in a well-ventilated area and to avoid breathing in the fumes directly. If you can’t do either of those things, then be sure to wear a mask while you’re working.

Wax can also easily catch fire and a wax fire can’t be put out with water. Be super careful heating up the wax, both so you don’t burn yourself and so it doesn’t catch on fire.

Heat the Wax to 225-240 Degrees

Another tip is to make sure that you heat the wax to the correct temperature. If it’s too hot, then it can damage the cheese. If it’s too cold, then it won’t adhere properly and will just end up being a waste of time and effort. The ideal temperature range for melting wax is between 225 and 240 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make Sure You Dip the Cheese For at Least 6 Seconds

When dipping the cheese into the melted wax, be sure to do so for at least six seconds. This will ensure that enough wax gets onto the surface of the cheese and that it adheres properly.

How to Deal With Mold Beneath the Wax

Here’s what to do if you find mold on a waxed cheese.

If there is a small amount of mold on the surface, the cheese may not have been heated hot enough during the waxing process. In this case, the wax can be removed and the cheese can be rewaxed.

If there is a lot of mold or it is growing underneath the wax, then the cheese should be removed from the wax, brushed or scraped off, and given a good wiping/scrubbing with a cloth soaked in saturated brine. The cheese should then be allowed to dry and re-waxed.

How to Clean Up Cheese Wax

If you’ve recently waxed your cheese, you may be wondering how to clean the wax off of surfaces. Here are a few simple tips to help you remove cheese wax from surfaces quickly and easily.

Use a soft, dry cloth to wipe away any excess wax .If there is remaining wax, fill a bowl with boiling water and hold the affected area over the steam for a few minutes to soften the wax.

Use a dull knife or putty knife to scrape away the softened wax. Wipe the area clean with a damp cloth.

To prevent future wax buildup, avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbers on surfaces that will come into contact with cheese wax. Instead, use a mild dish soap and warm water to clean these surfaces regularly.

How Do You Store Cheese After Waxing?

Once the wax cooled completely, I put the blocks of cheese into a ziploc bag and stuck them in the bottom of my fridge. It was the coolest place I had. A “cheese cave” is the preferred place to store cheese. Cheese will last longer when stored in a cool place, out of direct sunlight.

As a general rule of thumb, waxed cheese should always be stored in a cool, dry place, but where exactly that place might be is totally up to you.

The best way to store waxed cheese is in a special waxed cheese paper. This type of paper is breathable and will allow the cheese to breathe while still preventing mold growth.

Waxed cheese paper can be found at most specialty food stores. If you cannot find waxed cheese paper, you can wrap the cheese in parchment paper or beeswax wrap.

Waxed cheese should not be stored in the fridge for more than a few days, as the cold temperature will cause the flavor of the cheese to deteriorate. If you are planning on storing the waxed cheese for an extended period of time, it is best to keep it in a cool cellar or root cellar.

The Results

Okay, so it’s only been several weeks since I waxed the cheese. But one of the blocks got dented in the fridge, so I needed to use it anyway (since a corner of the cheese was now exposed). I was curious to see how it had held up so far.

It cut easily, and I was happy to find that there was no mold or liquid dripping from the cheese (as others have complained of having trouble with).

The wax peeled right off, and the outside of the cheese which had been allowed to harden was no longer hard, but was just as soft as the rest of the block. The flavor hadn’t changed, since it hadn’t been in storage for very long.

I re-covered the exposed end of the block of cheese with the wax I had cut off, and put it in a ziploc bag to keep fresh until we’d used it all up. When the cheese was gone, I saved the wax to use again. Just wash it off, dry it, and store.

I really enjoyed the waxing process, and look forward to doing another batch.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of really good information on the internet about waxing cheese, so I’d encourage you to do some more research into why and how to wax cheese.

You may not realize it, but this can be a controversial subject.

If you’ve been waxing cheese for a while now, and have any advice to offer, I’d love to hear what you have to share! What kind of cheese do you wax? Which kind of wax do you prefer? Where do you store your cheese?


Can any cheese be waxed?

The answer to this question depends on the type of cheese in question. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar or Parmesan, can be stored at room temperature for two to four weeks. This is because the high acidity and low moisture content of hard cheeses make them resistant to spoilage.

However, softer cheeses, such as Brie or Camembert, must be stored in the refrigerator. This is because their higher moisture content makes them more susceptible to bacteria growth.

How long will waxed cheese last?

Waxed cheese can last for several months, or even years, if stored properly. However, once the cheese has been cut, the exposed surface will begin to oxidize and the quality of the cheese will decline.

What kind of wax is used on cheese?

The type of wax used depends on the variety of cheese. For example, cheddar cheese is typically covered in paraffin wax, while Gouda is best dipped in beeswax.

Does cheese coated in wax need to be refrigerated?

In most cases, no. Waxed cheese does not need additional refrigeration to prevent spoilage.

9 thoughts on “How to Wax Cheese Step by Step”

  1. Have you ever thought about using an old fridge for your cheese cave? The seals on the door would keep everything dry, dark, and mostly airless-keep it in the basement and it would be cool. That’s what my dad does with his welding rod 🙂

  2. Hi, we have a small piece of land that we plan on living off of soon. I am very interested in homesteading and being self sufficient. Our first investment was a hand pump for our well in case we lose electricity. I’m going to read a lot more on this subject, thanks for your website!

  3. I’ve been making mozerella and ricotta. I’ve also done queso fresco and some other fresh cheeses like that. I have not ever, tried to wax them. That is a great idea. One of these days I’ll get brave and make cheddar…I need a good system to put the pressure on it…that is what has been holding me back. lol


  4. I have waxed several types of hard cheeses from different sources, mostly different varieties of cheddar. I am not doing that again. Even though I wiped each piece with vinegar and allowed it to sit out on the counter for several days, my cheese all started weeping. My next experiment will be with canning cheese. Jackie Clay (and others) have blogs about canning cheese. Seems it would be the better solution!

  5. What a wonderful idea. I didn’t know that you could reuse the wax. I’d have to leave myself a BIG note to remind myself to turn it 🙂


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