how to test honey purity?
Myths about traditional ways of honey testing
Drops from under the Nail
Forming honey comb patterns
Dropping in water
Dogs don’t eat pure honey
Ants die if they eat honey
Commercial interests add things like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), flavorings, and in rare cases, water, to “pure” honey to basically extend the original, more expensive, honey so they can still charge the current going honey prices for something that is no longer just honey. Current prices for honey are good because demand for honey continues to stay relatively robust in the world marketplace. There is really no way to test at home to see if your honey has been adulterated.
- Adding honey to water to see if it sinks or dissolves is bogus. HFCS also sinks and does not dissolve. Lighter varieties of honey, especially early spring varieties from delicate flowers or from some kinds of trees, like maple, in my experience, will fairly easily dissolve.
- Similarly the finger or thumb roll test is bogus because honey is NOT a universally uniform product. Some honey is more dense than others—even from the same point of origin. Some honey will drip more easily than others because of the differences in viscosity and percentage of specific sugars in the particular honey. Even the same honey might bead up on one person’s finger while roll off another’s, because of skin texture and especially skin oils and acids.
- The “sticky-ness” test is like the thumb roll test. The all-knowing interwebs will have you believe that honey is not sticky like liquid sugar adulterants. Ask any beekeeper the day after they have extracted honey from the combs if they think honey is sticky. If they do not simply look at you like to are the most stupid cow on the planet, they will tell you that honey is, indeed, very sticky and that they have too work very hard to not get the stuff anywhere they do not want it to be—because it can cause a sticky mess. Honey is mostly sugar and like sugar liquids, it is sticky and can be a sticky mess.
- Likewise the “bubble” test fails to provide proper information. Viscosity of honey from hive to hive, bee variety to bee variety, nectar source to nectar source, and especially time of year when produced varies. Some honey will be highly viscous and when the bottle is turned upside down, the bubble(s) will travel quite slowly, while some honey will have bubbles that move much more rapidly. Try out a bottle of Karo syrup some time. The bubble test would have you believe that this commercially produced product is like “pure” honey. (…and this is exactly one of the reasons that HFCS and other corn syrups are added to adulterated honey to extend it before sale.)
- The “flame” test is bogus, because the water content of pure honey varies a great deal from season to season, from one geographic region to the next, and from one apiary to the next. My spring honey has a higher water content than folks in Montana ever get, because my bees use the very easy to access large pondI have a few feet away to obtain water and only allow the the honey to drop to 20% before capping the comb, while the folks in Montana’s bees generally have less free access to fresh water and the people cannot even harvest their “spring” honey until weeks or a month after I do.
- Looking at the honey to see its color and clarity tells you exactly…“nothing” about its purity. “Pure” honey can be “water white” (almost colorless) to almost as deeply brown-amber colored as molasses. (source Quora)
The bee keepers feed sugar syrup and even antibiotics to the honey to keep the bee colony from leaving the bee boxes and to protect them from infections. These adulterants eventually end up in the honey that we consume. This is an article on how popular honey brands have been selling adulterated honey - Antibiotics in most honey brands: Study - Times of India
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The correct way to test honey is through Lab-testing, in which the following below tests are potentially covered.
- Specific Gravity @ 27 °C
- Total Reducing Sugar
- Fructose-Glucose Ratio
- Fiehe's Test
- Hydroxy Methyl Fulfural
- Mercury 5
- Methyl Mercury
Perform all the above tests to Qualify a honey as pure and un-adulterated.