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Honey good or bad: how to test honey

Updated on December 23, 2013

How to distinguish fake honey

Honey is probably the most ancient delicacy, and in all respects one of the most useful. It is used in cooking, medicine and cosmetology. Useful properties of honey are due to extremely high content of minerals and vitamins.

But all this is true only for real raw honey.

The volume of honey production depends on many factors: how wintered bees, what was the weather, how abundant was blooming of the honey plants. To fulfill constant demand for raw honey some unscrupulous manufacturers make fake honey.

At best, fake honey is of no benefit to health, at worst - may be toxic.

By some estimates up to 30% of honey in stores is more or less fake.

Photo Courtesy of Richard Bartz by Wikimedia Commons

How to determine without laboratory is your honey Good or Bad ?

Let's take a few simple tests

Real honey
Real honey

1. Appearance and Taste

Photo by Y. Zverev CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pure liquid honey is usually transparent, no matter what color he has, and it has no sedimen.

Look at the label. If the honey has been packed with more than 3 months ago and it is not crystallized - it is the cause for doubt. Only certain varieties of real honey does not crystallize.

If you have read on the label - pasteurized - it is one more cause for doubt. Real honey has antibacterial properties and does not require pasteurization.

Take into the mouth half teaspoon of honey. Do not swallow it at once, hold the honey in your mouth for 20-30 seconds. With real honey you should feel a slight burning sensation in the mouth. Taste of honey should be easy and pleasant sweet, in any case it is not cloyingly sweet and sour.

honey good or fake 3
honey good or fake 3

2. Check the honey to the touch

Photo of author

The real honey is easily pulverized between the fingers, and even absorbed into the skin like a cream. Fake product has not such delicate texture. It forms clumps.

Pouring real honey
Pouring real honey

3. The real honey is viscous in consistency

Photo by Emmanuel Boutet CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Honey should not be liquid and flow as a syrup. The real honey is viscous in consistency. The fake honey is behaving like glue, it drip down forming a spray.

Dip the tip of the spoon into the honey and lift it up. Real honey is pulled after the spoon in a long continuous filament , and when this thread is interrupted, it is completely down and turn into a pile, which soon will spread over the surface of honey and becomes invisible.

Fake honey is dripping from a spoon with a spray or flows too thick .

Look how should real honey flow

You can see how real honey flows in this video about extracting honey from beehive frames and putting it in bottles.

Test for water in honey
Test for water in honey

4. Testing for water in the honey

Photo by kurtsik CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is not much water in real honey - not more than 20%. Fake honey with syrup has a high moisture content - you can check it the following way.

Dip a piece of bread in honey, and after 8-10 minutes, remove it. In real honey bread hardens. If the bread is softening or even is falling apart, then in front of you is not nothing but a sugar syrup.

You can check for water in another way:

Drip honey on a piece of low-grade paper, which absorbs moisture. If it spreads over the paper, forming a wet spot, or even seeps through it - it's a fake honey.

Real honey
Real honey

5. Looking for impurities

Photo of author

Dissolve a little honey in water. If there is precipitate in the glass, something has been added to the honey.

If the solution turns blue by adding a drop of iodine, it means that the potato starch has been added to honey.

If a drop of vinegar causes foaming of solution, then there is chalk in the honey. Do not be surprised. Unscrupulous manufacturers sometimes use a chalk as a thickener for sugar syrup in the manufacturing of fake honey.

6. Testing for sugar syrup in honey

Fake honey made on the base of sugar syrop can be dissolved in water much easier than real one. Look for the difference in dissolving of real and fake honey in this video.

Another way to detect the sugar syrup:

to add to the solution one or two drops of silver nitrat. The white precipitate would indicate that there is sugar syrup in the honey. You can get silver nitrat at the pharmacy, it was widely used as a disinfecting agent once.


7. Looking for traces of starch syrup and other molasses

By Surv1v4l1st CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The admixture of starch syrup can be found by adding ethanol to the honey diluted with water. Shake the mixture. If there is molasses in the honey, the solution becomes milky white with transparent semi-liquid precipitate at the bottom. - dextrin. Of course, dextrin is a registered food additive E1400, but we want to buy natural honey, not the synthetic derivatives.

To check honey for presence of molasses you can do "test by fire".To do this, take a hot stainless steel wire and dip it into the honey. If you see sticky burnt remains on the end of wire - it is fake honey, if the wire remains pure - real honey.

One more variant of the test by fire you can see on the video below

Test by Fire for molasses

Keep in mind

Do not heat the honey to a temperature higher than 140 °F - it will lose therapeutic properties

If you need liquid honey - put the jar with honey into warm water, don't put it on fire !

Now you can test the honey in your cupboard

Would you ever buy a fake honey?

See results

Is honey in your cupboard good or bad?

Are you sure that your honey is not fake?

See results

Buy honey from well-known manufacturers

If you do not have personally known beekeepers it will be better to buy honey from well-known manufacturers who value their reputation

Do not store honey in metal or plastic pot

From contact with metal or plastic honey can lose part of healing qualities. The best way to store honey - in ceramic or glass jar with tight-fitting lid.

Le Creuset Stoneware 16-Ounce Honey Pot, Dijon
Le Creuset Stoneware 16-Ounce Honey Pot, Dijon

This stoneware pot can hold up to 16 ounces of honey. Its high-quality enamel protects honey against any environmental influences. Such a vessel can save the honey in a year or more.


Present for my Readers

This is old Russian recipe to treat colds in extreme conditions.I've used it several times in the taiga.

One-third cup of honey, one-third of vodka, one-third of hot strong tea. Stir and drink in one gulp. Bundle up warmly and go to sleep.

Attention !!! Only for adults without heart diseases

I'll be glad to hear your opinion

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    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

      I like the cold remedy! The tests you suggest are extremely interesting. Fortunately we have a good supplier, but I've always had my doubts about certain commercial honeys sold in supermarkets.

    • Anne Dollin1 profile image

      Anne Dollin1 4 years ago

      Very interesting information! Thanks.

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 4 years ago from Ireland

      Interesting information. I don't think I've encountered fake honey before but thanks for making us aware.

    • dwindhaus lm profile image

      dwindhaus lm 4 years ago

      Good points here, thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      wordpress-guru 4 years ago

      mmm ! honey .. so good !

    • profile image

      miha188 5 years ago

      Love honey!


    • profile image

      miha188 5 years ago

      Love honey!


    • Vikki w profile image

      Vikki w 5 years ago

      This is just the piece of info that i've been looking for, thanks for sharing

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      i am convinced that honey is healthy, so from where to buy, this is a difficult question, I favorite local producers ... Thanks for info

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 5 years ago

      I learned a lot from your lens, thanks!

    • checkyourvibe profile image

      Cathy Slaght 5 years ago from St. Petersburg, Fl

      Fantastic information! Have heard, also, that honey can be used to treat MRSA. Such a powerful food-

    • checkyourvibe profile image

      Cathy Slaght 5 years ago from St. Petersburg, Fl

      Fantastic information! Have heard, also, that honey can be used to treat MRSA. Such a powerful food-

    • shahedashaikh profile image

      shahedashaikh 5 years ago

      Thanks for the tips I use honey for colds and in milk.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Useful tips. I do like honey, and can tell the difference between cheaper store bought honey and that from a local source, which tastes really good.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks I use honey for many things.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a great lens! I love honey and wasn't aware of all these tests to determine the purity of it. Very fascinating!

    • profile image

      DecoratingMom411 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this lens. Now I will have an idea if my honey is spoiled or not.

    • profile image

      Sanja94 5 years ago

      I love honey... Your lens is great.

    • profile image

      Aboutlowercholesterol 5 years ago

      Thanx for the lens. It is an interesting subject that I realise many are ignorant on. I have heard so much differing stats/facts it makes me wonder.

      So thanx for the research and relevant info.

    • profile image

      Aboutlowercholesterol 5 years ago

      Thanx for the lens. It is an interesting subject that I realise many are ignorant on. I have heard so much differing stats/facts it makes me wonder.

      So thanx for the research and relevant info.

    • Spiderlily321 profile image

      Spiderlily321 5 years ago

      Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this lens.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 5 years ago

      I knew fake honey was sold, but had no idea it could be checked so easily. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      Had no idea there was fake honey!

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 5 years ago

      I really like the honey recipe for colds. Sounds like it must work! "Squid Angel blessed."

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      I learned so much from this lens! Brilliant!

    • profile image

      poutine 5 years ago

      I didn't even that there was such a thing as fake honey.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Loved the home testing tips for finding how whether the honey is pure, very essential and useful.

    • profile image

      supreme998 5 years ago

      Excellent lens on spotting fake honey

    • Winter52 LM profile image

      Winter52 LM 5 years ago

      I had no idea that there was suck a thing as "fake honey" Great lens... I learned a lot!

    • cheapmicrowave lm profile image

      cheapmicrowave lm 5 years ago

      Super lens! Learnt a lot of new techniques reading your lens.

    • profile image

      getwellsoon 5 years ago

      I have seen the fake honey in the dollar store before, did not know there were ways to check for fake honey until now. Thanks!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      What excellent information! Great work here - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • nickupton lm profile image

      nickupton lm 5 years ago

      Great lens. I love hot honey and lemon when I have a cold

    • profile image

      Smiles2You 5 years ago

      My parents used to make a recipe similar to that for us when we had a bad cough, but that has been many years ago. However, I think I will give it a try next time I am sick with cold symptoms! Here's hoping it will be a long, long time before I have to try it though. :)

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Next time I have a cold, I will try your Russian recipe!