The only way to test purity of honey is there is no right way to test honey than to trust your a reliable local supplier. We found this interesting argument by a beekeeper on Quora and did change a word and are presenting as it is.
Test honey at Home? Simply put, you cannot. NONE of those fun and simple tests you see on the Internet are reliable tests of unadulterated honey.
“Pure” honey is honey that has had nothing added to it to adulterate it. Some would add to the definition that nothing has been removed either, so they consider honey that has been strained or otherwise filtered to remove particulates to somehow be less “pure” than unstrained honey. Honey is never a single-substance material, so the idea of purity is really a non-starter to begin with. You cannot have honey be “pure” like water can be pure with only 100% H2O molecules. Honey is a mixture or blend of a number of sugars, organic acids from nectar (that add flavor and aroma), a handful of small enzymes from the bees’ honey guts, and particles of pollen, hairs (and perhaps other body parts) from the bees, several species of bacterial endospores, and spores from a variety of common molds. “Pure”…yeah, right.
Commercial interests add things like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), flavorings, and in rare cases, water, to “pure” honey to basically extend the original, more expensive, honey so they can still charge the current going honey prices for something that is no longer just honey. Current prices for honey are good because demand for honey continues to stay relatively robust in the world marketplace. There is really no way to test at home to see if your honey has been adulterated.
- Adding honey to water to see if it sinks or dissolves is bogus. HFCS also sinks and does not dissolve. Lighter varieties of honey, especially early spring varieties from delicate flowers or from some kinds of trees, like maple, in my experience, will fairly easily dissolve.
- Similarly the finger or thumb roll test is bogus because honey is NOT a universally uniform product. Some honey is more dense than others—even from the same point of origin. Some honey will drip more easily than others because of the differences in viscosity and percentage of specific sugars in the particular honey. Even the same honey might bead up on one person’s finger while roll off another’s, because of skin texture and especially skin oils and acids.
- The “sticky-ness” test is like the thumb roll test. The all-knowing interwebs will have you believe that honey is not sticky like liquid sugar adulterants. Ask any beekeeper the day after they have extracted honey from the combs if they think honey is sticky. If they do not simply look at you like to are the most stupid cow on the planet, they will tell you that honey is, indeed, very sticky and that they have too work very hard to not get the stuff anywhere they do not want it to be—because it can cause a sticky mess. Honey is mostly sugar and like sugar liquids, it is sticky and can be a sticky mess.
- Likewise the “bubble” test fails to provide proper information. Viscosity of honey from hive to hive, bee variety to bee variety, nectar source to nectar source, and especially time of year when produced varies. Some honey will be highly viscous and when the bottle is turned upside down, the bubble(s) will travel quite slowly, while some honey will have bubbles that move much more rapidly. Try out a bottle of Karo syrup some time. The bubble test would have you believe that this commercially produced product is like “pure” honey. (…and this is exactly one of the reasons that HFCS and other corn syrups are added to adulterated honey to extend it before sale.)
- The “flame” test is bogus, because the water content of pure honey varies a great deal from season to season, from one geographic region to the next, and from one apiary to the next. My spring honey has a higher water content than folks in Montana ever get, because my bees use the very easy to access large pondI have a few feet away to obtain water and only allow the the honey to drop to 20% before capping the comb, while the folks in Montana’s bees generally have less free access to fresh water and the people cannot even harvest their “spring” honey until weeks or a month after I do.
- Looking at the honey to see its color and clarity tells you exactly…“nothing” about its purity. “Pure” honey can be “water white” (almost colorless) to almost as deeply brown-amber colored as molasses.
In addition, some honey will start out a moderately light color and because of its components will oxidize and chemically change over time to become darker while sitting on the shelf. Suspended particles in “pure” honey can be anything from bee parts to floor scrapings from a repacking factory in India (lots of repacking of Chinese honey happens there before export to the West).
Honey producers, especially those who sell honey at the commercial level, know and have known for a long while that the only way to test honey to assure that it is only honey and has not been adulterated with HFCS or other extender products os to send samples off to a lab. There are a handful of labs in the USA that one can use, but the process is time-consuming and relive expensive. Only those who are buying and selling honey imported from outside the USA or Europe (Argentina has been a good neighbor here, too) use the labs.
As others have already said in answering this question, your best “test” is to buy your honey from local beekeeper-vendors or markets that use locally-sourced honey from beekeepers you could actually meet if you wished to. Avoid imported honey that has been repackaged. [Side Note: In the USA, you can call the honey a “product of the USA,” even if you import it from elsewhere, as long as you re-package it by putting it into individual packages for sale in the USA. Isn’t the legal system great?) and honey from the huge-scale producers who use imported honey and you will eliminate the greatest number of cheaters from your pool of honey providers. If you have a local source, you will quickly learn the difference in taste (and aroma) between real honey and adulterated honey and will become addicted to having a variety of honey from different floral sources.
The original write-up on Quora by Kirk Janowiak: https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-test-the-purity-of-honey