How to Decrystallize Honey

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This guide helps you understand how to decrystallize honey without damaging the nutritional profile. When your container of delicious golden honey turns into a semi-solid, gritty mess – don’t panic. Your honey has likely crystallized – a natural process. Whether you are an experienced honey connoisseur or newcomer to this sweet delight – you can have your honey back in liquid form in no time at all.

Jar of honey that will soon need to be decrystallized due to sugar crystals growing inside.

If you are a long-time consumer of raw honey, I am sure you have experienced times it has “turned to sugar”. This is a common description for honey undergoing crystallization. Thankfully, decrystallizing honey is not difficult.

Why You May Need to Reliquify Honey

The natural process of crystallization can be alarming to someone who does not understand why it is happening. As raw honey begins to change large, gritty crystals form. As they continue to grow, the entire jar can become solid.

Why Honey Changes Form – Sometimes

Honey bees make honey from many different sources of plant nectar. The watery nectar from flowers differs a bit from plant to plant.

The chemical composition of various nectar sources and their levels of sugars can result honey that crystallizes quickly – or not. This is why some types of honey crystallizes fast and others do not.

Reverting Honey Back to Liquid Form

Most people prefer honey in a liquid state. Thankfully, you can re-liquify your honey without destroying it’s raw properties. This raw food is alive with enzymes, antioxidants, pollen and other natural goodies.

Heat will melt the sugar crystals that are forming in the jar or container. But, too much heat will harm the integrity of your honey. The trick is to restore it back to liquid using a slow controlled heat.

Raw honey that has crystallized in a jar and decrystallized honey in small jar image.

Materials

While there are several ways to decrystallize honey, the most common method involves a pan of hot water on the stove. You only need a few materials for that.

  • saucepan
  • water
  • heat source

Process

The easiest way to bring honey back to a liquid state is the slow and easy route. We want to create a “hot tub” figuratively speaking for our jar of honey.

1. Be sure your honey is in a heat safe container (spoon it out into a glass jar if necessary). I like to add a lid on top – loosely. (This prevent water from getting into the jar).

You can also transfer the contents to a medium sized bowl if you want to remove it from the container. But, this extra step is not necessary.

As we begin the process, it is a good idea to have a lid on the jar. Honey should always be stored in a jar with a tight fitting lid to protect it from moist air. A high water content in your honey will cause fermentation or spoilage.

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2. Fill a pan with several inches of water. Place your jar of honey in the pan. You do not want to submerge the jar in water. (Do not let water cover the top of the jar.)

Water only needs to go up to the level or height of honey in the jar. Don’t let water get in it.

3. Gently, heat the water until it becomes very warm. It should not boil. Once you see steam starting to rise – it is time to turn off the heat source – or remove the pot from the heat.

Now, let your jar of honey sit in this hot water bath until the water cools. Once that happens – tighten the lid on your jar of honey and gently shake it. Do you still see any crystals floating? If so, repeat the process.

Expert Tips

  • the water bath is easy for glass containers. (But don’t worry if your honey is in plastic, we can use another method-that I will discuss shortly.)
  • for the process of de-crystallization, there should be a little excess room in the jar to allow room for expansion.
  • don’t get your water too hot. Water boils at 212°F-but we don’t want to get our water that hot! (Use a thermometer to heat a small amount of water in a saucepan to about 110 – 115° F.)
  • you can also heat water in a tea kettle and then pour it into a large bowl – sitting your honey jar in the water.

Melting Honey – How Hot is too Hot?

This is a common debate among honey connoisseurs. Isn’t the whole idea of raw honey to have some that has not been heated? Yes, that is true. But, how hot is too hot.

Most researchers agree that temperatures over 110° F damages enzymes and anti-oxidants. And, anything over 140° F ruins the natural properties completely.

While 110° F may seem to be quite hot, keep in mind that it probably gets that hot or hotter in the hive.

Bees do regulate the inside hive temperature through hive ventilation. However, they are still at the mercy of mother nature and can only control sections of the hive.

Gentle warming to a reasonable temperature should not damage the beneficial enzymes. This can be accomplished easily-if you take your time.

How to Decrystallize Honey in a Plastic Bottle

If you need to decrystallize a plastic honey bear (or similar), you have some extra considerations. Putting a plastic bear or any plastic container in very hot water may result in melting the bear.

And, as we have already discussed the microwave is not a good option either. You will melt your bear and ruin the nutritional value of your honey.

You have a couple of options. If the honey is thick but not solid, perhaps you can transfer it to a glass jar. And then, proceed with a hot water bath.

What if the honey is solid in your plastic container? Create a water bath similar to the one outlined earlier. But, this time keep the water temperature lower than 100° F.

It will take a while, but you may be able to loosen it enough to pour it out of the plastic. Once it is in a glass container the task becomes easier. Then, you can proceed with the first method of a hot water bath that is warmer.

Setting the plastic container in a warm sunny window is also a good way to get things headed in the right direction.

Another Option

Do you own a car? Some people report excellent results decrystallizing honey in their car. If you live in a region with warm temperatures, you may be able to heat your glass jar inside the car on a sunny (not hot) day.

How hot the car interior gets depends on the season and your location. It is important to monitor the inside temperature of the car to avoid damaging your raw honey.

Decrystallize Bulk Honey

Beekeepers often store their seasonal honey harvest in sealed 5 gallon buckets. It is not unusual for some of it to turn solid in the bucket.

Others who practice bulk food storage may experience granulated honey in large containers too. For home use, scoop out the amount that you think you will use soon.

Put it in a glass bowl or jar and proceed with the hot water bath method. This allows you to avoid exposing the whole bucket to heat unnecessarily.

Another option for bulk storage is a bucket wrap heater. This product fits around the bucket and gently warms the contents back to a liquid state.

Warming Cabinet

Beekeepers often bottle their honey in smaller jars. When you sell honey it is hard to know what size container your customers will want.

The problem is that most consumers don’t understand granulated or crystallized honey. They fear that it is damaged in some way. In truth, it is just as nutritious as liquid – but it doesn’t sell as well.

A warming cabinet is easy to make and use. It works wonders when you have several jars of to warm. If you don’t have the materials to make one like mine – you can use the same principal to create a warm box to hold your jars that need to be converted back to liquid form.

Actually, honey can be stored frozen to prevent crystallization-but most people do not want the bother of doing that.

FAQs

How many times can you liquify your honey?

The process can be repeated again and again. However, remember that each time we heat the honey – even a lower temperatures, we may cause some very minor damage. Especially when it is repeated multiple times.

Does crystallization cause honey flavor to change?

Yes, the process of sugar crystals forming can alter the flavor, taste or aroma but not in a significant way for most varieties. Some people prefer it this way and purposely make creamed honey.

Will keeping my honey in the refrigerator delay crystals forming?

No, actually a refrigerator is the worse place to keep raw honey. This is the temperature that encourages crystallization.

Why can’t I pour the honey in a pan and heat it that way?

Without a double boiler technique and gentle heat – you would over heat your honey and damage it. Do take care to avoid getting water in your jar though.

Will my decrystallized honey become solid again?

Yes, it can happen-though generally the honey changes form at a slower rate the next time.

How long does it take to re-liquify honey?

The amount of time required to completely decrystallize your honey depends on: the amount of honey in the jar, how solid it is and the temperature of the water ba

Can you heat honey in the microwave?

Please don’t microwave your honey. Microwaving does not evenly heat the food. Also, the microwaving process may damage some of the nutritional properties.

Will it hurt YOU to put your honey in the microwave? No, it should still be safe to eat and use.
microwave heat honey no do not

Final Thoughts

Please remember that crystallized honey is still good – don’t throw it out. In fact, you can use this natural tendency to make creamed honey with a smooth texture. However, if you need or prefer something that pours, choose a honey decrystallization process and give it a try.

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Raw honey - how to decrystallize honey safely

Decrystallize Honey Tutorial

Charlotte Anderson @ Carolina Honeybees, LLC
A few quick tips to help you bring crystallized honey back to a liquid state.
4.84 from 6 votes

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Tools

  • Saucepan

Supplies
 

  • 1 jar honey in glass jar
  • 2 pints water

Instructions
 

  • Place your honey in a heat safe container (glass jar) or ceramic crock.
    You don’t have to add the loosely attached lid but I like to in order to protect the honey from water splashes.
    White jar of crystallized honey with lid before liquified image.
  • Heat several inches of water in a pot on the stove until it is almost boiling (but not quite) – then remove from heat.
    Heating water in a saucepan on the stove image.
  • Slowly lower the jar of honey for decrystallizing in the hot water bath. Leave the jar sitting in the hot water bath until the water cools.
    Another option: place the honey jar in another pan and slowly pour in the warm water. You will have to repeat this process several times. Slow and steady.
    Jar of semi crystallized honey in hot water bath for liquification image.
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