How To Decrystallize Honey: (Step By Step Instructions)

Honey can and does crystalize both before and after honey harvest. The techniques to decrystallize harvested honey are very easy. Crystallization of honey still in the honeycomb frame is nearly impossible to decrystallize.

How can harvested honey be decrystallized?

  • Place the container of crystallized honey in a hot water bath.
  • Place the container of crystallized honey in a slow cooker.
  • Place the container of crystalized honey in a microwave using medium power.

Hot water bath technique to decrystallize harvested honey:

  • Place the jar of crystallized honey in a container about twice the diameter of the honey jar.
  • Pour boiling water into the large container. The boiling water will cover the honey container about 3/4 and warm the crystalized honey.
  • Wait for the honey to decrystallize.

This hot bath technique will take several minutes to completely decrystallize the honey. The length of time will depend on:

  • The temperature of the honey when it is placed in the hot water bath.
  • The quantity of honey being decrystallized.
  • The quality of the honey being decrystallized.

If the honey is not completely decrystallized as the water bath cools down, repeat the process.

The advantages of the hot water bath are:

  • The honey will not be “burnt” with the hot water bath technique.
  • There is no requirement to stir the honey being decrystallized in a hot water bath.

The disadvantages of the hot water bath technique are:

  • The length of time it takes for the honey to decrystallize.
  • The additional task of setting up the hot water bath again if the honey does not completely decrystallize with the first hot water bath treatment.
  • Some glass honey containers may break when boiling water is added to warm the much colder honey. Using a canning jar with this technique is preferable.
  • The glass honey container may become too hot to touch during this process.
  • Glass must be used; plastic will melt under the heat of boiling water.

Slow cooker technique to decrystallize harvested honey:

  • Place the crystallized container of harvested honey in the slow cooker.
  • Place enough water in the slow cooker to cover about 75% of the honey container.
  • Leave the lid off of the slow cooker.
  • Set the slow cooker to the lowest setting on the slow cooker.
  • Check the heated water temperature; the ideal temperature is 120 degrees fahrenheit but temperatures up to 135 are acceptable.
  • Set it and forget it.

The advantages of the slow cooker technique are:

  • This technique is a set it and forget it technique.
  • Plastic honey containers can be placed in the slow cooker as long as the lowest setting does not heat the water to 140 degrees fahrenheit, the temperature that some plastic containers may start to melt.

The disadvantages of the slow cooker technique are:

  • All slow cookers heat contents to a different temperature, so the first time this technique is used with a specific slow cooker, the water temperature will need to be monitored to determine what temperature the water will reach in that particular slow cooker’s lowest setting.
  • The slow cooker technique can take up to several hours to decrystallize the honey.

Microwave technique to decrystallize harvested honey:

  • Place the container of harvested honey, with the lid removed, in the microwave.
  • Set microwave to medium power.
  • Heat the crystallized harvested honey in 30 second bursts.
  • Stir honey between microwave bursts.

The advantages of the microwave technique to decrystallize harvested honey are:

  • The microwave technique is much faster at decrystallizing the harvested honey than the hot water bath technique.
  • The honey container is much less likely to break if it is a microwave safe container.

The disadvantages of the microwave technique to decrystallize harvested honey are:

  • Plastic containers of harvested honey can and do melt in the microwave. What a mess!
  • The microwave can burn the honey. The honey being decrystallized needs to be stirred every 30 second.
  • The honey container can become quite hot making it hot enough to burn the hand of the person stirring the honey every 30 seconds.
  • Health conscious people do not ever use a microwave to decrystallize honey as the microwave can destroy the enzymes in the honey, the primary reason for the health conscious person to consume honey.

Why does honey crystallize?

Honey crystallization happens when the water content in the honey becomes supersaturated with sugars and the sugar “falls out” of the water/sugar solution forming crystals.

There are two types of  sugars in the water of the honey:

  • Glucose.
  • Fructose.

The balance of these two types of sugars in the water within the honey determines how rapidly or slowly the honey will crystallize.

Glucose will crystallize much more quickly than Fructose. The fructose crystallization will be a fine texture while glucose crystallization produces a much more gritty consistency.

The type of flower nectar collected by the bees are a factor in honey crystallization.

How do I keep my honey from crystallizing?

  • Store honey at temperatures above 50 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Store honey in glass jars, not plastic.
  • Know the source of nectar from which the honey was made.
  • Filter the honey.

When honey drops below 50 degrees fahrenheit crystallization will accelerate.

Plastic containers allow the water content of the honey to vacillate which changes the concentration of the water/sugar solution in the honey making it more vulnerable to crystallization.

Knowing the source of the nectar the bees used to produce the honey can greatly reduce the chances of your honey crystallizing. Flower nectar higher in concentration of fructose will be less likely to crystallize.

Flowers containing a higher concentration of fructose include:

  • Acacia
  • Sage
  • Tupelo

Flowers containing a lower concentration of fructose include:

  • Clover
  • Lavender
  • Dandelion
  • Ivy

Honey made from nectar from many sources is usually labeled as “wildflower”.

Filtered honey will crystallize more slowly. Bits and pieces of pollen and wax in unfiltered honey offer a catalyst for supersaturated water/sugar solutions to form crystals around.

Once the crystallization process begins, it accelerates because the already formed crystals act as a catalyst around which other crystals form.

Can crystallized honey be eaten?

Yes. Crystallization is not a degradation of the honey, it is simply the glucose or fructose falling out of solution forming crystals.
Many consumers of honey prefer crystallized honey.
Glucose crystallization forms a more grainy texture while fructose crystallization forms a smaller, finer, more smooth crystallization.

Honey that has already been harvested by the beekeeper is pretty easy to decrystallize, however, if the beekeeper has crystallized honey in the beehive honeycomb frames, it can be a BIG problem to extract the honey from that frame.

And for a Flow hive it can be a complete disaster!

How can honey in the unharvested hive frame be decrystallized?

It is almost impossible to decrystallize honey in a framed honeycomb. Most beekeepers recommend using the framed honeycomb, containing crystallized honey, to feed to the bees; an excellent substitute for feeding bees sugar water when bees need feeding.

Some very persistent beekeepers have tried to decrystallize honey while still in the honeycomb, with varying degrees of success, using the following techniques:

  • Heating the entire frame in the oven.
  • Heating the entire frame in an Sous Vide bath.
  • Heating the entire frame with an electric blanket.

The primary reason to decrystallize honey in the honeycomb, still in the frame, is to allow using a more efficient technique to extract the honey from the honeycomb while still in the frame. This is accomplished by using a centrifuge piece of electric equipment that spins the honeycomb frame around, frame fully intact, and extracts the honey, leaving the comb intact.

Now the frame with intact comb can be re-inserted into the beehive. Since the honeybees will not have to build honeycomb from scratch, the frame of honeycomb will be filled with honey again much more quickly.

Crystallized honey in the honeycomb will appear as a white dot in the honeycomb.

Bees can extract the liquid honey in the frames easily, and they will also remove the crystallized honey.

For the flow hive, the crystallized honey can prevent the beekeeper from utilizing the mechanical “cell breaking” maneuver required to harvest honey from a flow hive frame. Forcing the issue can break the plastic honeycomb cells and ruin the frame making it useless for future use.

Crystallized honey in the honeycomb is found most frequently in the spring as the result of the bees inability to maintain a hive temperature during the winter than would keep the honey in a liquid state. Additionally, the nectar collected by the bees in late fall is frequently ivy nectar. Ivy blooms in the fall and has a high concentration of glucose rather that fructose. Glucose crystalizes much more quickly than fructose.

Related Topics:

Can beeswax be eaten?

Yes. Beeswax is perfectly safe to eat but it has no nutritional or health benefits of consumption.
Beeswax dose offer some medicinal benefits in topical application.

What are the medicinal benefits of beeswax?

Ingestion of beeswax has no medicinal benefits and is considered an inert substance although some doctors feel it has protective qualities for the stomach.
Topical application benefits include moisture retention in the skin and mild anti-inflammatory properties.

Happy Beekeeping

Paying It Forward

Robert Donaldson

I am Elizabeth's father, a physical therapist, and someone who has completely landscaped our family home's nearly 1/2 acre lot after losing our home and landscape to the Thomas wildfire in 2017. All landscaping was done to accommodate our wildlife friends, especially the birds and bees.

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