Conducting Honey Purity Test at Home: How to Check Purity of Honey?
Do you frequently find yourself perplexed about which honey is of the highest quality when shopping for your monthly groceries at a supermarket? It can be a bit difficult to determine which honey is pure and of the highest quality. Adulteration in food products is a longstanding issue. As the demand for honey continues to rise, a lot of companies resort to adding cheaper substitutes to their products to increase their profits. Adulterated honey not only deprives you of the health benefits of pure honey, but it can also jeopardize your overall health and well-being.
Common Adulterants in Honey
Honey adulteration can occur through direct or indirect means. Direct adulteration involves the direct addition of a substance to honey, while indirect adulteration occurs when honeybees are fed with such a substance. Honey is often adulterated with inexpensive substances that can meet laboratory testing standards. In India, the most commonly used adulterants are
- Molasses: It is a thick, syrupy, and viscous substance obtained from the refining of sugarcane. In other words, it is a byproduct of the production of sugar. When sugarcane juice is boiled, it turns into a turbid and dark solution that tastes as sweet as honey.
- Liquid glucose: Liquid glucose is a solution of saccharides that is primarily used in the baking and confectionery industry. Since it is cost-effective and easily available in the market, it is widely used as adulterant in honey.
- Invert sugar: It is a thick syrup, produced by processing refined sugar. Invert sugar is a mixture of fructose and dextrose created by heating sugar with acids like citric acid or cream of tartar. Its presence in candy-making affects the level of sweetness, solubility, and crystallization.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup/ C4 Sugars: High Fructose Corn Syrup is created during the processing of sweetcorn. The makeup and texture of HFCS closely resemble that of honey.
- Rice Syrup/ C3 Sugars: This syrup is produced during the processing of rice. It is one of the most commonly used adulterants of honey worldwide.
Typical Composition of Honey
|Proteins and Amino Acids
|Other ingredients including pollen grains
How to check the purity of honey at home?
Given that there are no major physical distinctions between pure and adulterated honey, assessing the purity of honey becomes exceedingly challenging. To check the purity of honey, there are some tests that can be conducted at home.
Prior to conducting tests, there exist several crucial parameters that can serve as indicators to determine the purity of honey.
Stickiness is a key indicator of purity of honey. When pure honey is rubbed between fingers, it does not stick. Adulterated honey becomes sticky due to the presence of added sweeteners.
Thickness is another major indicator. Adulterated or impure honey takes less time to move from one part of the jar to another part of the jar. Pure honey is comparatively thick. It takes more time to move.
Taste tells everything about a product. The taste of pure honey typically vanishes within a brief moment. Conversely, if the honey is adulterated, its taste lingers on the tongue for a longer duration.
The aroma or fragrance varies between pure honey and adulterated honey. Pure honey has a mild scent. It feels like it is the smell of the flower’s juice itself. On the other hand, impure honey has no or less smell.
Still confused? Let’s perform some tests.
Pure honey, when applied onto a piece of bread, causes the bread to become firm. Conversely, when bread is coated with impure honey, it moistens the bread as a result of its higher moisture content.
In this test, the honey is made to dissolve in a glass of water slowly. If your honey reaches the bottom of the glass without dissolving in the water then it is said that the honey is pure. However, this test can give you false results as the adulterants (except molasses) used in honey make its consistency thick, so that it does not dissolve in water. Also, unripe honey is pure but has thin consistency due to which it can dissolve in water easily.
The flame test is a test used to determine the presence of water or moisture in honey. To perform this test, a matchstick is dipped into the honey and then we light it using a matchbox. If the honey is pure, the matchstick will ignite without difficulty. However, if the honey has been adulterated, it may be challenging to light the matchstick. It is important to note that this test may not be accurate if the honey has been adulterated with thick substances that contain low levels of moisture.
This method assesses the flowing ability of the honey. The blot test involves placing a small amount of honey onto blotting paper. Alternatively, a regular cloth can be used instead of blotting paper. If the honey passes through the blotting paper without wetting it, it is deemed pure. However, if the honey is absorbed or wets the blotting paper, it is considered impure or adulterated. It is important to note that if the density of the adulterants matches that of honey, the test may yield inaccurate results.
Vinegar can also be used to check the purity of honey. Simply mix a glass of vinegar water and add a small amount of honey to the mixture. If the solution begins to foam, it suggests that the honey is not pure or genuine. However, if no foam is produced, it implies that the honey is indeed pure.
Reaction on Heating
Pure honey undergoes rapid caramelization when heated. Caramelization is a type of non-enzymatic browning reaction. Impure honey fails to caramelize on heating and it produce foam instead.
Standard permissible limit of some parameters for honey
|Total reducing sugar
|Fructose to glucose ratio(F/G)
These tests are undeniably beneficial. However, their drawback lies in the fact that they can only be conducted after purchasing the product. Is there any possible means to ascertain the product's suitability prior to making a purchase? Let’s find out.
Buying the Right Product
Let us return to the starting scene where you found yourself in a supermarket, unsure of which honey to purchase.
These are certain tips that you can adhere to in order to ensure that you don’t end up buying adulterated honey.
- Firstly, have a look at the label on the bottle of honey and check if it contains added flavours and additives.
- Know the standards of honey set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
- In case if you get a chance, always taste the honey before buying it.
- Always perform the above-mentioned home tests to check if your honey is pure or not.