Honey is a sweet substance produced by honeybees from nectar of flowers or secretions of living parts of plants and stored in honeycombs.  Nectar is an aqueous sugar containing secretion and it is the raw material for honey.

Physical Properties: 

Colour:  Ranges from light amber, amber, and dark amber, dark to light yellow or white depending on the source of nectar.Colour is measured by means of the permanent glass colour standards or the PFund Colour Grader.

Honey colours according to the PFund scale:

  • Water white – 8mm
  • Extra white – 13mm
  • White – 30mm
  • Golden – 50mm
  • Amber – 85mm
  • Dark – over 85mm

Hygroscopicity:  Honey is remarkably hygroscopic (the ability of a substance to absorb moisture from the air).  

Viscosity:  The ability of a substance to resist flow.  Honey is highly viscous.

Thixotropy:  Honey is relatively thixotropic, it has a tendency to form a gel due to large amounts of certain proteins e.g. Heather honey.

Thermal Conductivity: Honey is a bad conductor of heat.   

Density: 1.39 to 1.4gm per cm3 at 20ºC

Aroma and flavour: Honey has a sweet aroma and taste.

Honey Crystallisation/Granulation

  • It is normal for good quality to crystallize or granulate naturally upon storage.  
  • Crystallization of honey is affected by the following factors – temperature, presence of foreign matter and the equilibrium between glucose and fructose sugars present in honey.  
  • In an ideal situation, the invert sugars in honey plays a major role in that the equilibrium shifts from glucose to fructose, which is more stable.  For this reason, crystallized honey has more of glucose than fructose.
  • For good quality honey, crystallization usually begins at the bottom of the container going upwards until the whole mass turns into one continuous solid.  
  • The type of crystallization in honey should as much as possible be uniform irrespective of the size of the crystals formed.  

Chemical Composition: 

Honey consist of mainly sugars, with the simple sugars (fructose and glucose) being dominant. The complex sugars (sucrose, maltose, lactose) occur in small quantities.  Other components include water, vitamins, minerals, proteins, acids and enzymes