How to soften honey the right way

EDUCATION

4 minutes, 30 seconds.

Essential Takeaways

Over time, the natural sugars in honey can begin to separate from the water content. The sugars form crystals and the honey can harden.

This is a natural process and indicates that the honey is pure. But unless you want crunchy honey, you’ll probably want to know how to make the honey liquid again.

Fortunately, this is very easy. But it’s just as easy to destroy the beneficial enzymes in the honey in the process. So it’s important to soften your honey the right way.

Even the best quality, 100% pure, raw honey can go hard.

It’s part of a natural process that, luckily, is reversible.

But if you soften honey the wrong way, you risk losing all the beneficial compounds that make it special in the first place.

Particularly the powerful antibacterial properties of raw manuka honey.

So there’s a right way and a wrong way when it comes to how to make honey liquid again.

And that’s what we’ll discuss here.

In this guide to how to soften honey:

  • Why does honey solidify?
  • How to keep honey from solidifying
  • How to soften hard honey
  • What not to do when softening honey

Why does honey get hard?

The main components of honey are water and sugars like glucose, fructose, sucrose, and maltose¹.

This sugar content is much higher than the water content.

It causes the less soluble sugars (like glucose) to separate from the water over time and form crystals.

This crystallization process is perfectly natural, but can make the honey hard.

Studies have investigated what factors influence the rate that honey hardens:

“The rate of crystallization depends on many factors, among which amount of glucose, fructose and water, temperature, glucose super-saturation level, viscosity and presence of pre-formed crystals or impurities.”

Honeys higher in fructose (like tupelo and sage honey) take longer to solidify than honeys with less fructose (like honeydew and buckwheat).

The set honey, or honey crystals, are actually a sign of a purer product.

So if your honey starts to solidify, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

You can do a few things to prevent it, and you can also liquify it again.

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How to keep honey from hardening

Honey setting is a natural process, so you may not be able to avoid it completely. That is, unless you use it up!

But there are some honey care tips that you can use to prevent your honey from solidifying.

And failing those, we’ve included steps to soften the honey again.

How to store honey to keep it from solidifying

The best way to keep honey from solidifying is to:

  • Store it in an airtight container like our rPET jars.
  • Keep it away from direct sunlight.
  • Keep it at ambient room temperature (between 18-24℃ (64-75℉)).

How to soften hard honey (and retain all the good stuff)

What do you do with honey when it gets hard?

You have a few different options from using a water bath to a microwave, or leaving it in the sun. But we recommend a gentle approach to protect the good stuff in the honey, keeping it nutrient rich to enrich your everyday life.

Let’s start with our top recommendation.

How to soften honey in a water bath

We recommend this method for melting your honey because it gives you the most control.

And control is key if you want to keep the beneficial bioactive compounds of manuka honey intact.

Place your honey jar into a larger container.

Fill that outer container with warm water, creating a bath for your honey.

Be careful! Temperatures of 47℃ (116℉) and above kill bioactive enzymes². So if you’re consuming honey for its health and wellness properties, you need to keep it away from boiling water or direct heat.

If you boil the kettle for your warm water bath, make sure you don’t add the honey in until the water drops below this 47℃ (116℉) mark.

Let your honey sit in the warm water for a few minutes before stirring it.

Replace the jar into the water bath and repeat the process until the hard honey has melted.

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How to soften honey in a plastic container or bottle

You can use the warm water bath method with a plastic container or bottle to melt your honey with similar results.

It is best, however, to warm (and store) your honey in a glass or food-grade plastic jar (like our rPET jars).

This matters for two reasons:

  1. An air-tight container keeps moisture out of the honey. Honey can absorb moisture from the air, accelerating the hardening process, and eventually, fermentation.
  2. Chemicals can leech from weaker, lower-grade plastic into the honey. If you’re concerned about protecting a pure product, be wary of how you store it.

If you have New Zealand Honey Co. honey, your honey is supplied in the perfect container already. We only deal with real.

How to soften honey in sunlight

If you have a jar of regular honey and you want to melt it, you could try leaving it in a sunny spot.

Perhaps a windowsill or exposed place on your counter.

But we don’t recommend this method of softening honey.

You might end up heating it too much and killing the beneficial active properties in the honey.

What not to do when softening your honey

There are a few things you might think to do when it comes to melting honey.

For example, you might be wondering how to soften honey in the microwave.

This is a big no-no.

Microwaves heat up food unevenly (which is why you often need to move your food around a bit when using one).

Not only do you have less control over the temperature, but you might end up scorching or boiling some parts of the honey.

And as you’ve seen, this isn’t good news for its chemical composition.

Get your pure, raw manuka honey that’s less likely to harden

We cream our manuka honey to slow down and prevent the hardening process.

We also supply our honey in airtight, rPET jars which are manufactured in a more environmentally-friendly way than glass, and ideal for storing honey.

Your honey may still harden. It’s a pure, raw, product. But the crystals that form will be finer, and easy to melt away.

Still a little confused about set honey and what’s going on under the jar lid?

Read more: Why honey crystallizes (and why you need to fix it).

Order your manuka honey here.

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Sources referenced:

¹ Chemical composition and users of honey, Fortune Journals.

² Is raw food healthier than cooked food? Healthline.


Your wellness journey starts with a spoonful a day.

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