How to tell if honey is pure [your foolproof guide] (2024)

What is pure honey?

What do we mean by “pure” honey?

There are a few different terms you might come across here, so let’s break them down.

Pure honey

Pure monofloral honey

Pure multifloral honey

Unadulterated honey, i.e. no additives.


This doesn’t necessarily mean the honey is also raw or organic.

The unadulterated honey has come predominantly from the nectar of one species of plant.


All of our honeys are pure monofloral manuka honey.

The unadulterated honey has come from the nectar of multiple plants species.


It’s more difficult to regulate what’s in these honeys as a result.

Read more: What is monofloral honey and why does it matter?

Sadly, it’s not a given that a product labeled “honey”, or even “pure honey”, is in fact, purely honey.

That’s because honey is such a hot commodity throughout the world that the supply can’t always keep up with the demand.

Not only that, but the common test used to identify “pure honey”, the C4 carbohydrate test², doesn’t distinguish between the types of sugars found in honey samples.

Some may come from the honey itself, and some may not.

As a result, diluted or contaminated products make it onto the shelves. And it can be difficult to know which is trustworthy and which isn’t.

But starting here is a great step. It’s all about understanding what makes certain honeys “fake” and knowing how to spot them.

The most common ways that honey is adulterated

  • Added sugar syrup

It’s a cheap ingredient and hard to detect. Some sugar types can only be identified using specialized technology, so jars may not be checked at this level during production or import.

  • Obscured country of origin

The US placed anti-dumping duties onto honey exports coming from certain countries³ to try to derail the problem of diluted products on shelves⁴. Unfortunately, some of those exports are now labeled as coming from their country of transfer rather than origin, making it harder to spot the imposters.

  • Not testing for or disclosing contaminants

Pesticides can be found in honey for a number of reasons. Bees travel miles to collect nectar, so it’s difficult to control whether they take from organic or non-organic plants if the hives aren’t placed in remote areas.

Beekeepers may also use pesticides to treat their hives (this isn’t something we do).

We test our honey for contaminants and all our products are certified glyphosate free.

Since the test for pure honey doesn’t actually identify what’s in the honey sample, there’s no general certification you can look for to ensure you’re getting the real stuff.

This is one of the reasons why manuka honey is pricier and more coveted; it is tested, highly regulated and traceable.

With the right accreditations, you know you can trust what’s in your jar.

Read more: Fake honey: what you need to know to avoid buying it.

What is pure honey good for?

Both regular honey and manuka honey specifically have been tested for potential health benefits.

Pure manuka honey often comes out on top for its unique potency of antibacterial properties.

These properties are useful for a broad range of medical purposes from daily health and wellness to topical treatments. (It all depends on which manuka honey grade you go for).

Evidence shows that pure manuka honey is good for:

  • Cleaning and healing wounds
  • Protecting and repairing scars
  • Easing digestive and stomach problems
  • Managing diabetes
  • Alleviating rosacea, acne, and eczema
  • Easing allergy symptoms

And lots more.

Read more: Thinking of buying medical grade honey? Read this first…

How to tell if honey is pure

Here’s a quick checklist of signs that your honey isn’t pure.

Keep scrolling for some at-home tests you can perform to help determine whether your honey is likely to be the real deal.

3 signs that your honey isn’t pure

If you want to know the difference between pure and impure honey, look for these signs.

Whilst not foolproof, they are red flags for adulterated honey.

  1. It’s unusually runny

    Pure honey is typically thick and viscous. While it can become more runny when warm, it shouldn't be unnaturally so.
  2. It doesn’t crystallize

    Crystallization is a natural process that happens to the sugars in pure honey. It’s a good sign of a pure product, but it should be noted that not all pure honeys crystallize either.
  3. It’s overly sweet

    Adulterated honey may contain additional sweeteners. Pure honey often has a more natural flavor. This does vary though between honey types, so isn’t a reliable measure of purity on its own.

Still unsure if your honey is pure?

Try some of these easy tests below. They’re still not 100% conclusive, but they should give you a pretty good idea.

Testing pure honey with your thumb

Put a drop of honey on your thumbnail.

Does it run off easily, or stay steady for a while?

Pure honey is a viscous, sticky substance. It shouldn’t run straight off your thumb.

It's important to note that honey that is very warm will also have a thinner viscosity - this can be corrected by cooling it in a cool pantry or even refridgerated for a time. But a quality manuka honey will still have substance to it.

Testing pure honey with vinegar

Honey and vinegar is actually a common wellness duo. It’s called oxymel⁵.

Oxymel should have a syrupy consistency.

If you add 2-3 drops of vinegar to your honey and it foams, it’s unlikely that your honey is as pure as you might like.

Testing pure honey with water

Add a spoonful of honey to a glass of water.

Pure honey should settle in the water.

If your honey dissolves immediately, it’s possible it also isn't pure or has been altered in some way.

Testing pure honey with heat

Did you know that honey is flammable?

Dip a cotton swab in your honey and carefully light it with a match.

If it catches, or starts bubbling and caramelizing, you probably have pure honey. If not, you probably don’t.

Testing pure honey with a paper towel

Blot a small amount of honey onto a paper towel, and fold the towel.

Adulterated honey is more likely to seep through like water than thicker, pure honey.

5 questions to ask when buying pure honey

We can’t know whether honey is genuinely 100% pure without testing it in a lab.

(Unless it’s manuka honey with a certified UMF™ grade. In this case, the testing has been done for you).

But there are some questions that we can ask to verify whether a brand that calls its honey “100% pure” can be trusted.

  1. Can you see “pure honey” on the label?

    Ok, it sounds obvious, but it’s only step one.

  2. Does this brand have a well-established reputation?

    Do a little digging. How does their website look? Their social media? Do they have a lot of reviews online? Do they appear to be credible and trustworthy in the industry?

  3. Are they transparent about their processes and manufacturing?

    Honest honey brands have nothing to hide. Is it easy to find information about how they produce their honey?

  4. Are they transparent about where their honey is produced and packaged?

    We previously mentioned the issues with some international honey exports. Find out where your honey is coming from.

  5. Do they have any official accreditations?

    If the honey is not manuka honey, then it won’t have a UMF™ grading. But there may be other genuine and helpful accreditations that the brand has earned to suggest it’s trustworthy.

It’s not rocket science.

If the honey is ridiculously cheap compared to others on the shelves, and you can’t find much information about the brand, then it’s potentially not pure honey.

Be sure your honey is 100% pure, always…

The most reliable source of pure honey is certified pure manuka honey.

That’s because, as one of the most famous and priciest honeys on the market, it’s subject to special rules and regulations⁶.

This protects both customers and the integrity of the honey.

All our honeys are 100% pure and certified glyphosate free.

They’re produced, packaged and labelled right here in New Zealand by our experienced beekeepers.

Learn more about our story.

Shop pure manuka honey.

External sources referenced:

¹Honey is one of the most faked foods in the world, Insider.

²Presence of C4 sugars in honey samples, ResearchGate.

³Truth, lies, and honey, The Conversation.

Honey from the people’s republic of China, Federal Register.

Honey and vinegar: are there health benefits? WebMD.

UMF four factor quality testing, UMFHA.

Internal sources referenced:

UMF™ honey and the UMFHA

What’s the deal with organic honey?

How to avoid buying fake manuka honey

Our honeys are glyphosate free: what that means

Why is manuka honey expensive?

Manuka honey vs regular honey

How much UMF™ is enough?

Manuka honey for wounds

Manuka honey for scars

Manuka honey for stomach problems

Manuka honey for diabetes

Manuka honey for acne

Manuka honey for eczema

Manuka honey for allergies

How to tell if honey is pure [your foolproof guide] (2024)

FAQs

How to tell if honey is pure [your foolproof guide]? ›

Take a tablespoon of honey and mix it in a glass of water. If the honey is pure, it will lump together and settle at the bottom without readily dissolving. On the other hand, if it dissolves easily and blends uniformly with the water, it may indicate adulteration, possibly containing added moisture or syrups. 2.

How do you know if honey is 100% pure? ›

Take a tablespoon of honey and mix it in a glass of water. If the honey is pure, it will lump together and settle at the bottom without readily dissolving. On the other hand, if it dissolves easily and blends uniformly with the water, it may indicate adulteration, possibly containing added moisture or syrups. 2.

How can you tell if honey is pure or fake? ›

Drop a teaspoon of honey into a glass of water. Fake honey will immediately start to dissolve, whilst raw honey will drop to the bottom of the glass intact. Place a drop of room temperature or cooler honey on your finger, If the 'honey' spreads then it is fake honey.

How can you tell the difference between raw honey and pure honey? ›

Raw honey — comes straight from the hive and is available in filtered or unfiltered forms. Regular honey — pasteurized and may contain added sugars. Pure honey — pasteurized but contains no added ingredients.

How do you pick pure honey? ›

Check the ingredients label on your honey for added sugars. If the product is pure, it should only list honey as its ingredient. Purchase honey produced from your local area.

How do you test the purity of honey at home? ›

To begin with this easy test, fill a glass with water and add a teaspoon of honey. Stir it once, if the honey is pure it will settle at the bottom and will not dissolve in water. It may form a lump or settle down. Adulterated or impure honey may dissolve or create a cloudy appearance.

Does 100% pure honey crystallize? ›

Why Does Raw Honey Crystallize ? Honey is a super-saturated solution of primarily two sugars: glucose and fructose. Just like with your powdered lemonade, it is a natural process for some of the sugars in a super-saturated solution to eventually come out of solution. All raw honey will crystallize due to glucose.

Which honey to avoid? ›

Avoid any honey labeled as “ultrafiltrated.” Don't be fooled by honey labeled as “pure.” This has no legal significance and doesn't actually guarantee purity. Look for the label “True Source Certified” instead. True Source Honey independently verifies the ethical origins of honey.

Is Costco honey real? ›

Costco Buys | 🍯 Did you know Kirkland Signature Honey is True Source Certified? The True Source Certified seal was created to ensure authenticity and…

Is grocery store honey real? ›

There's a high chance that your store-bought honey is fake. While fake honey usually includes some amount of real honey, it is often mixed with other corn, rice, or sugar cane syrup to reduce its cost. These fillers are far cheaper than raw honey and are used to produce more honey, quicker.

What does unpasteurized honey look like? ›

straight from the honeycombs of the hive, then strained to remove large debris. like beeswax and dead bees. Raw honey tends to be a little more cloudy. than regular honey because of these traces of pollen, yeast, wax, etc, but that's not always the case.

What is the healthiest honey to buy? ›

When it comes to choosing the healthiest honey, you should look for one that is raw. Raw honeys are not pasteurized and bypass filtration, a process that may reduce its nutrients. A great variety of raw and unfiltered honey is available on Amazon.

What does real honey look like? ›

Sticks to the thumb – Place a drop of honey on your thumb. If it doesn't stick and drips away, it is not pure. Look & smell – Pure honey is always cloudy and not shiny in appearance and it has a hint of flowery smell, whereas an impure honey might be shiny, transparent and gives out the smell of sugary syrup.

Which brand of honey is 100% pure? ›

Nature Nate's | 100% Pure Raw & Unfiltered Honey.

How do you know if honey is 100% natural? ›

Take a glass of vinegar water and add a few drops of honey to the glass. If the mixture starts forming a foam, then it indicates that your honey is impure or fake. However, if no foam is formed, it means that your honey is pure.

What color should pure honey be? ›

Honey color ranges from nearly colorless to dark brown, and its flavor varies from delectably mild to distinctively bold, depending on where the honey bees buzzed. As a general rule, light-colored honey is milder in taste and dark-colored honey is stronger.

Does 100% honey mean raw honey? ›

Pure honey only means that it has not been cut with corn syrup, sugar or another ingredient to dilute it. Usually, pure honey has been heated for pasteurization and filtered at least once if not twice, which is what separates it from raw honey.

Does 100 pure honey go bad? ›

No, honey does not go bad. Because honey has a low water content and high acidity, it's an unfriendly place for bacteria to thrive. As long as the lid stays on and the honey stays free of added moisture, honey can be stored in the cupboard indefinitely.

What is the difference between pure set honey and pure honey? ›

What is the difference between clear and set honey? The higher the fructose content, the longer the honey will remain liquid. Some honeys contain more glucose than fructose and, therefore, are very likely to crystallise swiftly. There is no difference in the taste or nutritional value of these two states.

Does pure honey dissolve in water? ›

FACT: Pure honey is naturally water-soluble and will always dissolve in water. It dissolves more quickly in warm water. MYTH: Dip a match or candle wick in honey and see if it can still be set on fire. Pure honey will burn, while adulterated honey will not, due to added water content.

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