How to Decrystallize Honey

Careful heat application is the most important element in decrystallizing honey. Those who work with honey will tell you that liquefying honey only requires specific amounts of gentle heat. This prevents you from destroying the elements that make honey delicious and nutritious. How can you be sure your decrystallizing method isn’t damaging your honey? First let’s take a closer look at the honey itself…

The Honey Basics

Made With Wind Power

Powerblanket infographic on how nectar becomes honey

Honey is created naturally by bees through nectar gathered from flowers. Even at these beginning stages, temperatures must be kept just right to create honey. According to honey manufacturer and beekeeper expert Paul Allison, proper ventilation is the key to honey making: 

“During periods of excessive heat or an abundance of nectar, the bees beat their wings to renew the hive’s atmosphere. The foragers pass on the nectar gathered from the flowers into the mouths of other worker bees, who then store it in the hive’s cells. This nectar is dehydrated by the movement of the air produced by the fanning bees wings. It becomes honey when the moisture content reaches 17%. Beehives need to be kept at 95° F to be the right temperature to produce honey.”

What Is Honey Made Of?

Powerblanket infographic on what honey is made of

Raw honey is a mixture of natural sugars, other carbohydrates, water, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Because these elements never “go bad”, honey is truly the only food that doesn’t spoil. It does however settle, harden, and become cloudy as it sits over time. This process is known as crystallization, and you have probably witnessed it yourself when you have found an old honey jar in the back of your cupboard.

Why is Crystallization a Problem?

Nutritionally, there is nothing wrong with crystallized honey. However it can be very difficult to remove from its container and work with. Most consumers will avoid purchasing a crystallized honey jar if they can, which is why honey manufacturers go the extra mile to make sure their honey is soft, and usable.

Decrystallizing Honey

Whether stored in a glass honey jar, plastic bear, or in bulk containers, caution must be taken in warming the honey contents to prevent damage. Idaho beekeeper Ward Hicks says his business, Hicks Honey, understands the importance of temperature control: 

“I believe pure honey should be treated with extreme care. Some people refer to it as, ‘the essence of vanished flowers.’ Improper heat treatments can damage the delicate flavors and destroy the yeasts and enzymes that make honey so special.”

Idaho honey is often sourced from flowers belonging to the clover family. As a result, it has a distinct flavor that can be lost if heated too quickly. Hicks says slow warmth is the best way to process honey via decrystallization:

“Anytime honey is decrystallized, it should be warmed slowly and very gently. I have learned that a slow warming process, not to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit, is best.”

Once warmed, honey can be poured smoothly and beekeepers can rest easy knowing that the nutrients unique to honey remain unharmed. 

At Home Honey Tips

The safest way to decrystallize a honey jar at home is to simply give it a warm bath. Place your jar in a bowl with warm water and let it sit until it decrystallizes. Never use a microwave to soften your honey! Microwaves are notorious for uneven heating and you have little control over how hot your honey will get. Protect your honey from scorching and caramelizing by resisting the temptation for a quick solution and skip the microwave altogether.

Avoid storing honey in a cupboard or pantry that gets really cold during the winter. Colder temperatures will accelerate honey crystallization. Keeping your honey at normal room temperatures will help keep it soft and usable for a longer period of time.

Bee-ware of Overheating

Gentle heating restores honey to its smooth, clear glory. However, overheating makes honey so runny it is the consistency of water. Applying high, uneven heat will also reduce the nutritional value of your honey by killing off enzymes and antioxidants. In addition, overheating can caramelize the sugars and greatly degrade the quality of your honey.

Powerblanket Honey Solutions

Bee Blanket Honey Warmers

Powerblanket infographic on the benefits of the bee blanket

Here at Powerblanket, we specialize in total temperature control. That’s why we developed the Bee Blanket. Our honey warmers are specifically calibrated for honey’s nutritional and thermal needs. We can give you complete control over the decrystallization process, solve your viscosity problems, and protect your liquid gold. Contact us today to find the perfect solution for all your honey needs at 855-820-3767 or [email protected]

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BEE BLANKET

Why Does Honey Crystallize?

crystallized honey

It may seem intuitive to assume that crystallized honey is spoiled or poor quality, but this isn’t the case at all. Crystallization happens naturally over time to pure, raw honey and actually helps preserve the nutrients and quality. Additionally, you may find that crystallized honey is easier to spread and richer in flavor.

The Chemistry of Honey Crystals

The “why” behind the crystallization of honey is simple chemistry. Usually, honey contains at least 70% carbohydrates and less than 20% water. This is more sugar than can naturally remain dissolved and over time, crystals begin to form. Some honey crystals are fine and smooth while others are large and gritty. This is largely due to the proportion of the two main types of sugars found in honey, fructose and glucose. While fructose tends to remain dissolved, glucose has a much lower solubility. The higher proportion of glucose honey contains, the more quickly it will crystalize. More rapidly crystallized honey contains finer, smoother crystals. In fact, creamed honey is honey that has been crystallized so rapidly, that the minuscule crystals create a smooth, creamy texture.

Can you de-crystallize honey?

crystallized honey

Yes! Honey can easily be de-crystallized in small batches through simple heating. Remember, however, that in order to preserve the natural nutrients found in honey, overly hot temperatures should be avoided.

 

You can easily de-crystallize honey on a stovetop using the following steps:

 

  1. Make sure your honey is in a glass jar or jars (not plastic). Fill a pot with water that comes to ½ to ⅔ up the sides of the jars.
  2. Place honey jars (sans lids) in pot and bring water to a hot but not boiling temperature.
  3. Gently stir honey every few minutes to help break up crystals. Be careful not to splash any hot water into honey jars.
  4. Remove jars from heat when honey is once again smooth and runny.
  5. Tightly seal jars and store in a cool, dry place.

 

How to Keep Honey From Crystallizing

crystallized honey

Remember, crystallized honey happens naturally over time. Some steps, however, can be taken to minimize or delay crystallization.

  • Maintain steady heat (104°-140°F) during honey bottling.
  • Provide a quick, mild heat treatment (140°-160°F) to dissolve any crystals and expel air bubbles that could initiate crystallization.
  • Store honey in proper containers. Air-tight, water safe stainless steel drums are recommended.
  • Store honey in a cool (50°-70°F), dry location. Storage temperatures above 70°F will compromise the quality and nutrients of the honey over time. Refrigerated storage will quickly crystallize honey and should be avoided.

 

Honey Heating Blankets

Powerblanket Bee Blanket

An effective solution to minimizing crystallization during the honey manufacturing process is utilizing a heating blanket.  The Powerblanket Bee Blanket is ideal because it keeps honey at hive temperatures and prevents loss of nutrients or burning from overheating. If you’re in the business of honey, consider adding a Bee Blanket or other method of temperature control to your manufacturing process. While crystallization can’t necessarily be avoided, a Bee Blanket can help keep your honey at the ideal, smooth viscosity.

Learn More About The Bee Blanket