Real vs Fake Honey: 17 DIY Home Tests

What DIY Home Tests Can Identify Real vs Fake Honey?

  • Clarity Test
  • Label Test
  • Tilt The Honey Jar Test
  • Chopstick test
  • Thumbnail test
  • Water test
  • Matchstick test
  • Burn Test
  • Bread Test
  • Paper Towel Test
  • Microwave Test
  • Smell Test
  • Taste Test
  • Stickiness Test
  • Crystallization Test
  • Egg Yoke Test
  • Vinegar Test

Appearance Test

Clarity Test:

This is the first test a consumer can perform in the store BEFORE purchasing the honey in question.

Fake honey is processed to the point of having no particles suspended in it. This is more appealing to the shopper’s eye.

Real honey usually contains particles of wax, pollen and can even some bee parts that can be seen in the honey.

Label Test

Read The Label Test:

Another simple in-the-store test is to simply read the label on the honey that is being considered for purchase.

If the label lists things like corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup you know this is not real honey, or at minimum honey that is diluted with cheap sugar syrups.

Viscosity Tests:

Tilt The Honey Jar Test:

The second test an in-store customer can do is a simple visual test that can apply while at the store thinking about buying the honey, but you’re not quite sure you trust it to be real honey.

Once you have a good visual reference of real honey, you can apply it in the store BEFORE purchasing the honey to determine for yourself if the honey is real or fake.

Tilting a jar of honey onto its side and watching the honey move within the jar will help determine real from fake honey.

Real honey will be slow to move much like cooling lava moves down a mountainside.
Fake honey will move much more quickly, kind of like motor oil for your car.

Without having the experience of knowing what real honey moves like in its container, the shopper can compare one honey to another on the store’s shelves. The slowest moving honey has the most potential to be real honey.

Chopsticks Test:

Another viscosity test that can be done at home is to take two chopsticks, dip one of the chopsticks in the real and fake honey at the same time.

Pull the chopsticks out of the honey and let it run back into the honey jar.
Watch it until the honey no longer has a stream of honey going back into the honey jar and is now just forming drops of honey falling back into the jar.

Fake honey will start the dripping process much more quickly than the real honey.

Thumbnail Test:

With your thumbnail pointed upward (parallel to the floor), place a small dab of honey on top of your thumbnail.

Real honey will remain in a round globular formation and will remain in place on your thumbnail.

The fake honey glob will break down its round glob formation and run off of your thumbnail.

Solubility Test

Water Test:

Fake honey will emulsify in water because fake honey has a high water content to start with, so it starts to break down and become absorbed in the water.

Put about a teaspoon of honey in a bowl, pour some room temperature water over the honey and swirl it around like you are panning for gold.

If the honey is fake, you will see the edges of the fake honey start to break down and emulsify in the water.

Repeating this same test with real honey reveals a very interesting result.

Real honey will not emulsify in water and will continue to be a blob of honey in water, looking like an egg yolk.

As you continue to swirl the water over the real honey, it remains intact and starts to take on the appearance of a honeycomb.

Flammability Tests

Match Test:

Dip a wooden match stick in the honey to be tested.

The match will not lite if dipped in fake honey because the match has absorbed some of the water from the fake honey.

Fake honey has a higher water concentration than real honey.

A match dipped in real honey does not absorb water and will light when struck.

Burn Test:

Twist up a paper towel to form a corner at the end of the twisted paper towel.

Dip the tip into the honey to be tested. Cover the tip of the paper towel with the honey up onto the paper towel about ½ inch or more.

Put the tip of the honey coated paper towel into a flame.

Real honey will catch fire after a while and burn like a candle wick, using the honey as its fuel source.

Fake honey will not burn. It just has too much water content to even catch the paper towel on fire.

Absorption Tests

Bread Test:

This home test of real vs fake honey is relying on the excessive water content in the fake honey to identify the fake honey from the real honey.

Water always seeks equilibrium. It will flow from the higher concentration to the lower concentration. We can use this law of physics to do the following two tests, the bread test and the paper towel test.

Spreading FAKE honey on bread will cause the bread to become wet and soggy in a few minutes as the bread absorbs the excessive moisture in the fake honey.

Fake honey will GIVE UP some of its water content to the bread because the fake honey has more water content than the bread.

Spreading REAL honey on bread will cause the bread to become hard in a few moments as if it were stale.

Real honey will TAKE some of the moisture out of the bread because the real honey’s water concentration, usually about 17% water, has less water than the bread, so water tries to reach equilibrium and will absorb the moisture from the bread.

Paper Towel Test:

On two separate paper towels, place about a ½ teaspoon of each honey being tested.

Fake honey will soak through the paper towel because of the fake honey’s high water content.

Real honey will not soak through the paper towel because the real honey has very little water content in it.

Heat Reaction Test

Microwave Test:

Place about a ½ teaspoon of the honey being tested into the bottom of a glass microwavable safe small bowl (about the size of a small ramekin).

Turn the microwave on high for about a minute with the bowl of honey being tested inside the microwave.

Heating fake honey in a microwave for about 1 minute will cause it to foam and bubble but it will not caramelize.

Heating real honey in a microwave will cause the honey to caramelize quickly, but it won’t bubble and foam.

Sensory Tests

Smell Test:

Fake honey made with feeding bees sugar water has no aroma.

Real honey, made from flower nectar, can often have a faint smell of the flower source of the nectar.

Taste Test:

The fake honey made with the addition of sugar syrup to real honey will have a lingering sweet taste as it takes longer for sucrose (sugar syrup) to stop stimulating the taste buds.

Real honey (glucose and fructose) clear the taste buds much more quickly.

Stickiness Test:

The addition of sugar syrup to honey will cause the honey to feel sticky between your finger and thumb.

Real honey does not feel very sticky between your finger and thumb.

Reaction To Cold Test

Crystallization Test:

Real honey, made by honeybees, is processed by the bees using enzymes produced in the bee’s own body, fake honey has none of these enzymes.

These enzymes, along with real honey’s water content being very low, make real honey vulnerable to crystallization when exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the honey being tested in your refrigerator.
The usual temperature inside a refrigerator is about 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Real Honey will crystallize after being cooled to below 50 degrees.

Fake honey will not crystallize.

Real honey comes from various flower sources and has different crystallization criteria. For example, honey made from nectar gather in the almond orchards is one of the quickest kinds of honey to crystalize over time or exposed to cool temperatures.

Simple solution:
Place your honey in the refrigerator until it crystallizes (fake honey never will).
Once the honey has proven to be real by crystallization, simply de-crystallize the honey and store it at room temperature.
Learn more about honey decrystallization…..

Chemical Reaction Test

Egg Yoke Test:

Place an egg yolk in a small bowl (egg YOKE only).
Pour some of the honey being tested into the bowl with the egg yolk and mix it with the egg yolk thoroughly.

Real honey will cause the egg yolk to take on the appearance of the yolk being cooked.

Fake honey will have no effect on the egg yolk.

Vinegar Test:

  • Put a tablespoon of honey that is being tested into a small bowl.
  • Add about a ½ teaspoon of water to the honey.
  • Add 3 drops of vinegar.
  • Mix well.

Real honey will not have a reaction.

Fake honey will create a foam.

Final Thoughts

The best way to assure you are purchasing real honey rather than fake adulterated honey is to buy from a local beekeeper.

Manufacturers of fake honey are getting better and better at passing these test and fooling people into believing the honey is real honey.

The cheapest best test is to look at the honey being tested under a microscope and look for evidence of pollen in the honey.
Real honey will always have some pollen in it.

But fake honey producers are getting smart enough to start adding a little pollen to their fake honey in order to pass this more sophisticated test.

The ultimate current test is one that requires laboratory equipment that can identify the carbon count in the tested honey.

Real honey, made by bees from real flowers, will consist of carbon chains made up of chains of 3 carbons. Three carbon chains are produced by the flowers that produce the nectar bees convert to real honey.

Fake honey will contain sugar syrups made from plants that bees do not gather nectar from, these are the plants that have a 4 carbon base structure. These plants depend on wind for pollination, not the bees.

C4 plants are things like corn, cane, and grasses.

But fake honey producers have even found a way around that test by discovering they can produce cheap sugar syrup from sugar beets, a plant that is a C3 plant but not a nectar producing plant that bees collect nectar from.

So adding cheap sugar beet syrup to dilute their honey makes it almost impossible to detect this sugar syrup additive.

Happy Honey Testing

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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