Honey is the sweet dense liquid made by bees from the nectar they consumed in flowers. Honey sweetness is as a result of its high sugar content, about 80 percent as monosaccharides, fructose, and glucose. It has served globally as the main sweetener, if not the only one, throughout history until sugar became widely available in the sixteenth century. Honey has been linked to various beauty and healing properties like skin smothering, wounds and infections treatment for over 5,000 years.
The increased awareness about human health that has risen in recent years have made most people continue to desire and therefore demand honey over every other sweetener. To meet up with this high demand, factories sought means to serve their consumers constantly in using additives to support the available raw materials, or mixing different sweeteners and colours to fool the consumers.
The honey improvisation has become so popular today that it will be a rarity to find pure honey on the counter. In this post you will discover how to identify original honey which in turn means when you should be able to differentiate between a fake honey and an original one.
It is best that we start out by clarifying that raw or pure honey is hard to come by on the counter in malls of most countries, and when you do find the closest things to pure honey, they can be very expensive. The reason is because we can’t get really pure honey except from the bees in the forest, those that feed on nectar and have not been taken for industrial production of honey.
Honey derived from bees through beekeeping is affected by the method employed in the process of making bees replenish their lost energy after honey extraction. Bee farmers typically give sugar water to bees to replenish the energy lost and produce honey. The constituents of the bee diet often show as traces in the honey, thereby further affecting the quality of honey produced.
In Fact if you hear a small ‘pop’ sound when you open your honey bottle, it means there is fermentation ongoing and that is not the characteristics of pure honey. Therefore you probably have an adulterated honey.
How To Identify Original Honey (10 Attributes of An Original Honey)
The majority of the tests given below are based on the moisture content of the honey. Pure honey has less than 20% moisture. The amount of moisture in a particular honey can differ from time to time. This is because when honey is exposed to the environment, it draws moisture from the atmosphere to the outer layer of the honey, consequently increasing the moisture present.
Also, it can be misleading to judge the purity of honey from the colour or flavour. Honey Colour and Flavour depends on which flower the bees buzz, and the nectar they took from it.Honey colour ranges from nearly colourless to dark brown. Light-coloured honey is usually less strong in taste compared to dark-coloured ones.
Here is a list of tests for the purity of honey to watch out for the next time you plan to purchase honey. With this 10 list on how to identify pure honey from those that are not pure, you are sure to not miss out on the best that manufacturing companies can offer.
- Label Check
- Honeycomb check
- Color check
- Ant test
- Honey Density test and thump test
- Taste and Smell
- Heat test
- Stickiness test
- Dissolution or Lump test
- Bread test
- Yolk test and
- Matchstick test
1. Check the label
Look for the label on the jar or container of honey. The label should have information about the honey’s origin, type, and processing method. It should also have a list of ingredients, with honey being the primary ingredient.
2. Look for the honeycomb
This is another way of checking if the honey is original. If the honey is still in the comb, it is likely to be original honey. The comb should be edible and have a slightly chewy texture.
3. Check the color
Original honey comes in different colors, depending on the nectar source. For example, clover honey is light in color, while buckwheat honey is dark. If the honey is too light or too dark for its claimed source, it may be adulterated.
4. Ant Test
We have stated earlier that moisture can help achieve a lot in the determination of honey purity. Ants are naturally attracted to moisture containing food particles. Pure honey has less than 20% moisture, which is too little to attract ants.
- Take a droplet of your sample, ensure that it has not been previously exposed.
- Place a droplet of your sample honey in a place that little black ants frequent.
- Watch the result.
- If it attracts ants then there is a high probability that is not pure. A pure honey (if not exposed ) will not attract ants due to its low moisture content.
5. Honey Density Test and Thumb test
Pure Honey is dense. A pure honey does not drip down your thump easily. It is so thick that it gradually moves down. Anything less than this honey behaviour is not pure.
- Place a droplet of the sample honey on your thumb.
- Observe the density and movement
- If the sample is dense and not dripping down your hands almost immediately, then it is pure, and if not, then it is not pure honey.
6. Taste and Smell
A Pure Honey does not leave a lingering taste of sweetness in your mouth beyond a minute.The taste vanishes in a matter of minutes. An adulterated honey will lack such property of purity because of the added sugar and sweeteners, the taste of the honey that is not pure lingers. On the other hand, pure honey retains the traces of the scent of nectar its bee used to consume, while a honey that is not pure have a recognizable industrial feel to its smell.or it may have nothing
- Place some of the sample honey in a clean spoon.
- put on you tongue and smell the residue on spoon that you used
- Observe what happens to your tongue carefully after a minute
- If the taste lingers then it is not pure.
- If on smelling the spoon you used it has some industrial feel then it’s probably not pure.
7. Heat Test
If you heat pure honey, it will form caramel in a short time and will not produce bubbles on heating. A honey that is not pure produces the opposite properties due to its additional moisture and sugars.
- Place a teaspoon of sample honey in a small pan.
- heat in a low flame
- Observe the behaviour and bubble formation
- If it produces bubbles, then it is not pure
8. Stickiness Test
Pure Honey is sticky if placed between fingers rubbed against another, but if it is not sticky, then it has added sweeteners.
How To Test
- Place a droplet of the sample honey on your index fingers.
- Rub against your thumb.
- Observe the density and movement.
- If the sample does not feel thick and sticky, then it is not a pure honey.
9. Water Dissolution or Lump test
This is based on the density. Pure honey is very dense, when placed in a glass of water, it forms a lump and goes down to the bottom of the glass. Note that the lump gets diluted after stirring for a while. An adulterated honey gives a completely different result. To make the lump test, you need water, honey, methylated spirit.
Water lump Test:
- Take a glass of water
- Take a teaspoon of the honey and put in a glass full of water.
- Pure honey forms a lump and settles down the glass of water.
- Fake or adulterated honey will dissolve in the water ‘
Methylated Spirit Lump Test:
- Take some of the honey and put in an empty glass cup
- Add equal amount of the methylated spirit
- Pure honey settles at the bottom.
- Adulterated honey dissolves and turns the solution milky.
10. Bread and Absorption Test
An interesting test for the purity of honey using its property of absorption and density can be achieved using bread or a white cloth. When a slice of bread is put into honey for ten minutes it does not get the bread wet. The density also comes into play when we test for purity by pouring a teaspoon of honey on a white cloth; it does not get absorbed nor does it get the cloth stained.
Bread and Absorption Test:
- Take a slice of bread and dip in in honey
- Observe for 10 minutes
- Bread in pure honey will remain hard
- Bread dipped in adulterated honey softens from the moisture in it.
11. Vinegar Test
A simple way to test the purity of honey is to use vinegar. Test if your honey is adulterated using this method, add up to three drops of vinegar and some water into the honey then stir and observe the mixture. A mixture containing the pure honey starts to foam, then your honey is adulterated.
- Take some of the honey and put in an empty glass cup.
- Add three drops of vinegar.
- Stir and observe.
- Adulterated honey starts to foams.
12. Egg yolk Test
Pure Honey: When poured into a container with yolk alone and the mixture is stirred together, the yolk appears like it is cooked.
Fake Honey: Has no effect on the yolk.
Egg yolk Test
- Take some of the honey and put in an empty glass cup
- Add egg yolk.
- Stir and observe.
- Pure honey makes the yolk look like a cooked egg yolk.
- Matchstick Test
An interesting fact about pure honey is that it can be caught in flames. The mention of flame has made it obvious that the test is a dangerous one and utmost care must be taken. Take a dry matchstick and scoop honey with it. Strike the honey carrying matchstick against the matchbox. Pure honey burns on the stick until the honey on it is completely burnt.
13. Matchstick Test
- Take some of the honey..
- Scoop the honey with a matchstick.
- Strike matchbox with the honey carrying matchstick.
- Pure honey is combustible and should be caught in flames.
- Adulterated honey contains too much moisture to catch flame
a) Crystallization doesn’t mean your honey is not pure:
There is a popular myth about crystallized honey being a confirmation that the honey was indeed adulterated. This is very untrue.The crystallization process may affect your appeal due to the brighter colour and coarse feel, but this doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed a sign of genuinely pure honey. Besides, many people prefer it in the crystal form to suit their recipe interest and taste expectations.
Crystallization is said to have occurred when glucose appears on the honey surface as sugar crystals, it is a natural occurrence for most types of pure honey. It is formed due to the super-saturated concentration of sugar in the honey—over 70 percent sugar and about 20 percent moisture. The sugar content is mainly glucose around 35 percent and fructose about 40 percent. Glucose is the only sugar to crystallize because of its low solubility, and fructose remains as fluid for its high solubility.
b) Heating Honey is not the best:
Honey contains living enzymes, vitamins and minerals that can weaken and not give full nutritional value required if heated above 95 degrees celsius. Although the only risk is the reduction in nutritional value and it is in no way harmful to proceed to consume it.
In practice, these purity tests described above may be inconclusive on their own. It is advisable to consider using more than one test to validate your findings. Also, It is important to know about the purity of honey products you buy. Pure honey is known for its undoubtedly beneficial health uses such as prevention of cancer, heart disease, and throat irritation e.t.c.
Using adulterated honey can become very dangerous as it may contain so many additives that are completely outside the recommendations intended with pure honey. Finally, pure honey comes from bees and not manufacturing company factories.
The closest factories can get is to make honey from bees fed sugar but pure honey can only come from bees that are fed only on nectar. Bee honey from manufacturing companies can only be what they claim it is if the bees are fed nectar, but this is not profitable to them. The bees that are fed sugar have the purity of the honey affected and cause trace amounts of sugar to be found in it.