Why doesn't honey go bad?

November 25, 2018

Why doesn't honey go bad?

 Why doesn't honey go bad?

Why honey doesn't get spoiled?

Why honey doesn't spoil?

Why honey is the only food that doesn't go bad?

Does Honey never spoil?

Does Honey Every go Bad?

In 1913, American archaeologists discovered an altar of honey in the Egyptian pyramid’s ancient tomb. After identifying this altar of honey for more than 3300 years.  Honey In The Pyramids

Herodotus reported that the Babylonians buried their dead in honey, and Alexander the Great may have been embalmed in a coffin full of honey.

Nectar is 70-80% water content, whereas Honey is very less water content. Honeybees produce an enzyme called invertase in their salivary glands. When Honeybees swallows nectars, invertase also gets added in to it. By the help of enzymes honeybees convert complex sugar from nectar to simple sugar. Fructose and glucose have the same chemical formula (C6H12O6), whereas, they’re two different sugars. That’s because their atoms are arranged differently. This difference in atomic arrangement, makes fructose taste much sweeter than glucose. Honey is also slightly sweeter than table sugar, because honey contains more fructose. 

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Enzymes are organic compounds that speed up a biochemical reaction. These enzymes are not used up in the reaction, so they can be used over and over again. After the nectar is gathered by the bee, invertase is added. This enzyme helps change sucrose into equal parts glucose and fructose. It’s the beginning of honey. Other enzymes also help honey taste better. Amylase is an enzyme that helps break down amylose into glucose. Glucose is easier to digest and it’s what makes honey sweeter. Another enzyme, glucose oxidase, then breaks down the glucose and stabilizes the pH of the honey. Catalase changes hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. This keeps the hydrogen peroxide content low. (Even though some people believe that the hydrogen peroxide in honey is what helps preserve it, it’s probably due more to its slightly acidic pH and low water content.) (Courtesy: https://www.beeculture.com/the-chemistry-of-honey/)

Like any good chemists, bees follow a protocol in order to make honey. Forager bees draw in nectar through their proboscis (straw-like tongue.) They then add invertase while they carry the nectar. This invertase begins breaking down the sucrose into glucose and fructose in the honey stomach (crop). The foragers then transfer the nectar to the house bees, where more enzymes are added. This enzyme-adding process continues each time another bee picks up the nectar. House bees regurgitate and re-drink the nectar over a 20 minute period, which further breaks down the sugars. When the nectar is about 20% water, it is deposited on the honeycomb, where the bees fan it to speed up the evaporation process and further condense the honey. The bees stop when the water concentration is between 17-18% and move it to its storage location. Thus, through the use of evaporation and enzymes, a supersaturated solution has been formed.

 Scientists has defined honey as Supersaturated solution, mainly consists of sugars - glucose and fructose. Having supersaturation property, heat, enzymes or other chemical agents can increase the amount of material dissolved. 

Honey is the unique organic compound that doesn’t go bad and remains healthy for very long time. One of the reasons is that honey is extremely acidic with a PH of 3 to 4.5 that doesn’t allow any bacteria to grow in Honey.

Another reason lies in the process that takes by Honey bees producing honey. Initially the nectar collected by honey is a water solution with 60 - 68% water . But when honey bees take in and store honey in their stomach their exercise greatly reduces the amount of water extract in honey. Further nectar in bee’s stomach reacts with enzymes breaking down honey further. (Courtesy: Quora Stiffen Johnson)

It's the glucose oxidase (GOx)  which is converted into gluconic acid (C6H12O7) and hydrogen peroxide which causes a chemcial process that breaks the sugar down giving honey an acid medium w/ low pH via gluconate ion's. Moreover the now forming hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) acts has a shorterm killer of bacteria, mold, and fungi, organisms aka microbes  As well  by reducing the moisture content of the bees nectar down to 18% water (H20) some of which is done by the bees fanning the combs each night this yields in a high osmotic pressure (ψπ = − C R T) which acts as an even further shield against said microbes. (Courtesy: Quora : Nelson Jacobsen) 

Honeybee glucose oxidase--its expression in honeybee workers and comparative analyses of its content and H2O2-mediated antibacterial activity in natural honeys.


Cyrstallization in Honey is a pretty natural things. A true raw honey crystallizes over a period of time. This does not mean it is spoiled. In order to prevent honey from crystallizing, beekeepers process the honey by heating and pasteurizing the honey to get a good texture and uniform color. Looking at the texture of the honey one gets deceived in picking the wrong honey in the supermarket.

Tip is to not put your honey in the refrigerator.Below 52 °F, crystallization slows down, so feel free to freeze your honey. And at temperatures above 77 °F, honey resists crystallization best. But honey crystallizes most quickly at temperatures of between 50 and 59 °F. So, if you want to avoid having to heat your honey to remove crystals (apparently slow, indirect heat is best for that, by the way), avoid the refrigerator. (Source : https://io9.gizmodo.com/why-honey-is-the-only-food-that-doesnt-go-bad-1225915466)

 Storage of Honey:

Storing Honey plays a major role in the Expiry of honey. The fact honey being hydroscopic means that it has little water in its natural state but can easily suck in water if its exposed to it.  So the final key to honey remaining unspoiled is making sure it's well sealed and stored in a dry place.

Does Expiry date for Honey makes sense?

Food products sold in the supermarket, including honey, expiration or best before dates is a commercial requirement, as a true original pure raw honey does not have an Expiry date if it is stored in right temperature and glass bottle.

Buy Original pure Raw 100% pure Honey from HoneyBasket, you don't need to worry about expiry as it directly from Forest, blessed by tribals, who knows which honeycomb is good , comes direct to your home in a glass container.



Carbohydrates and the Sweetness of Honey. The National Honey Board. (1995).

Honey: A Reference Guide to Nature’s Sweetener. National Honey Board. Firestone, CO. (2005).

Janini, Thomas E. Chemistry of Honey. The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. (2014).

Kappico, Jenifer T., Asuka Suzuki, and Nobuko Hongu. Is Honey the Same as Sugar? The University of Arizona: College of Agriculture and Life Science Cooperative Extension. AZ1577 (2012).

Manyi-Loh, Christy E., Roland N. Ndip, and Anna M. Clarke. Volatile Compounds in Honey: A Review on Their Involvement in Aroma, Botanical Origin Determination and Potential Biomedical Activities. Journal of Internal Molecular Science (2011); 12 (12): 9514-9532.

Sammut, Dave. The Tale in the Sting. Chemistry in Australia (2015): 18-21.

Viuda-Martos, Manuel, et al. Aroma Profile and Physical-Chemical Properties of Artisanal Honey from Tabasco, Mexico. International Journal of Food Science & Technology 45.6 (2010): 1111-1118.

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