How To Make a Wax Paper Leaf Pressing

Wax Paper Leaf Pressing
Wax Paper Leaf Pressing.

Even with all the tree identification resources available online today, you still can't beat using a real, preserved leaf to assist you in tree identification.

Building and using a plywood leaf press is a great way to preserve leaves for study but the device is bulky and takes some time and effort to construct. Pressing leaves using wax paper is an easy alternative to a board press. Pressing a leaf between two pieces helps capture some color, highlights a leaf's structure(s) and provides a leaf in three dimensions.

Collecting the leaf in this way can help you with initial identification and give you a comparative sample for future tree leaf identification.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Ten minutes per leaf

What You Need:

  • Wax paper
  • Thin Towel
  • Warmed Iron
  • Leaf

Here's How:

  1. Find a leaf on a tree you know or would like to identify. Collect the leaf or several leaves that most represent an average looking leaf of the tree species.
  2. Place the collected leaf between two layers of wax paper with plenty of room to trim and preserve the wax "seal".
  3. Cover the wax paper with a towel. A thin dish towel is preferable to a thick bath towel. You can even use a paper towel. 
  4. Turn the iron on medium dry heat and evenly iron over the towel separating the iron from the wax paper. The heat will seal the leaf between the wax paper sheets.
  5. Trim the wax paper specimen to fit a standard weight, three-ring sheet protector and insert it with a label. Keep your collection in a three-ring notebook binder.


    1. A great way to label your leaf specimen is to copy or print and paste tree information directly from an identification site on the Internet.
    2. Depending on the tree species, your green leaf may brown a bit. This is normal and should be considered when reviewing leaf color.
    3. Part of the beauty of leaf collecting is that you don't have to know the tree's name. Take the leaf to a local forester for identification.
    1. Remember, you can also make a fine collection of fall leaf colors using this same method.


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    Your Citation
    Nix, Steve. "How To Make a Wax Paper Leaf Pressing." ThoughtCo, Sep. 29, 2016, Nix, Steve. (2016, September 29). How To Make a Wax Paper Leaf Pressing. Retrieved from Nix, Steve. "How To Make a Wax Paper Leaf Pressing." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 24, 2018).