Why Does Honey Crystallize & How To Stop It From Happening

Why Does Honey Crystallize & How To Stop It From Happening

Manukora Staff

8 minutes

Raw honey naturally crystallizes over time, which alters its texture but not its quality. This guide explains why it happens, how proper storage prevents crystallization, and simple methods to re-liquefy hardened honey.

Key Takeaways

  • Raw honey naturally crystallizes over time, especially in cool temperatures
  • Crystallization does not affect taste/quality and honey is still safe to eat
  • Proper storage conditions prevent crystallization
  • A warm water bath reverses crystallization without damaging nutrients

Comparison Table

Raw Honey

Pasteurized Honey

Dehydration Method

By bees

High heat processing

Nutrient Levels

Highly potent and beneficial

Can be depleted


Thick, rich, creamy

Uniform syrupy texture

Tendency to Crystallize

High over time

Low due to processing

Does storing raw honey in the fridge cause crystallization?

Yes, storing raw honey in cool temps like the fridge will likely cause it to crystallize more quickly over time. It's best to store raw honey at room temperature.

Executive Summary

How to Stop Honey From Crystallizing 

Has your honey become too hard to scoop, or has it taken on a crystallized appearance? The good news is that there’s no reason to worry.

  • When honey is in its raw form, it’s normal for it to harden over time, especially when stored in cooler temperatures.

So, let's discover why this happens and what you can do about it, so you can enjoy the yumminess of Manuka honey — even after it's hardened.

Why Does Honey Harden?

  • Unlike pasteurized (heat-treated) honey, raw honey will naturally crystallize (or harden) over time.
  • Sometimes the change in texture is due to improper storage. Yet, many times, it’s just the result of raw honey’s tendency to crystallize over time.

While crystallization can visually be off-putting, you can rest assured the honey itself is still safe to consume.

When honey crystallizes, it won’t affect the taste or longevity of its potency; it simply causes that raw honey to take on a different consistency.

Raw Honey vs Pasteurized Honey

To understand crystallization better, it can help to know more about raw honey and how it differs from processed honey. So, let's take a closer look.

What Is Raw Honey?

At Manukora, our raw Manuka honey is never extracted from the hives before the bees have finished naturally dehydrating it. To know if the honey is adequately dried, beekeepers refer to individual honey storage cells.

  • Each cell should be capped with white wax (almost like a lid for each compartment of honey). No honey should be visible; if it is, it’s still being dehydrated.

To ensure each batch of our Manuka honey retains its unique, rich flavor and beneficial nutrients, we’ve spent a long time refining our harvesting process.

  • We ensure each honeycomb is capped before harvesting; this way, the honey is already at a low moisture level, allowing us to avoid high-heat processing. 
  • We then pass the honey through two coarse filters. This filtration process removes any undesired debris (such as remnants of wax) while keeping the beneficial nutrients of the honey intact (which we validate through our third-party testing).

Once packaged, each Manuka product is sent to a third-party testing site to confirm its levels of beneficial nutrients like MGO, Leptosperin, and others used by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to ensure authenticity.

Finally, our Manuka products get a special QR code that offers unique traceability. This code will tell you:

  • Confirmation of authenticity
  • The batch number of the product
  • Third-party batch test results for MGO and Leptosperin
  • The harvest region

What Is Pasteurized Honey?

Pasteurized honey is often dehydrated using high heat to obtain a uniform color, consistency, and texture.

  • Unlike raw honey, which is often gently warmed to no more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit, pasteurized honey is typically flash-heated and rapidly cooled. 

Honey is heat-sensitive. This means that when it gets above a certain temperature, its natural chemical composition of sugar and fructose can be disrupted, and some of its beneficial nutrients can be depleted. 

  • Not only are the chemicals within the honey changed, but so are its appearance and texture. As you might note, most processed honey will have a similar color and consistency — translucent, syrupy, and bright gold.

On the other hand, raw Manuka honey is rich like caramel, with an irresistibly indulgent, thick, buttery, and creamy texture. The lack of high-heat processing allows Manuka honey to retain its texture, flavor, and beneficial nutrients.

Why Isn’t All Honey Pasteurized? 

As we’ve mentioned, pasteurization compromises Manuka honey's beneficial nutrients, and we prefer to keep that very special trait.

  • At Manukora, we understand that while our honey offers a delicious bite and sensory experience, many people are seeking the wellness benefits of the nutrients found in raw Manuka honey. This is why we never pasteurize our honey.

We feel there’s no need to intervene in the natural honey-making process that produces such potent, unique nectar. The bees take care of the dehydration process for us, which takes a bit longer, but we would never rush perfection.

Why Dehydrate Honey?

You can’t have honey that isn’t dehydrated in one way or another. 

Your honey can quickly spoil if it isn’t dehydrated by either the bees or manually through high-heat processing. Ultimately, this process eliminates moisture and prevents bacterial growth.

  • In fact, an industrial dehydrator takes a fraction of the time it takes for the bees to dehydrate the honey. 
  • This is why many commercial honey companies choose to harvest their honey early and dehydrate it themselves. 
  • However, as mentioned above, this can deplete its beneficial nutrients, which is why, at Manukora, we allow the bees to do what they do best. 

Can You Stop Honey From Hardening?

Crystallized honey can feel impossible to reverse, and chances are you’d like to indulge in your healthy snack at your convenience, not the convenience of the honey.

However, keeping your honey soft and creamy is much easier than you’d think; it’s all about how you store it.

How Do I Store Raw Honey? 

Store-bought pasteurized honey can be stored anywhere, and it will generally maintain its uniform color and consistency.

Raw honey, however, benefits from thoughtful storage. Raw honey can crystallize or even become less viscous with moderate temperature changes, so storing it at the correct temperature is key.

  • We suggest storing your raw honey at room temperature, in a dry place, out of direct sunlight — Manuka honey is best stored at approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).

How Do I Soften Crystallized Honey? 

Softening crystallized honey is fairly easy, but you must be careful not to use too much heat as it can negatively affect your honey.

  • Put a bowl of water in the microwave for under a minute (long enough to get it warm to the touch but not too hot). Place your honey jar in the warm bath.
  • Remove the lid, but make sure the water doesn’t get into the honey. Once the honey is exposed to moisture, it can spoil because of the bacteria that naturally proliferate in that moisture.

Check on the honey in about five to 10 minutes. 

If it’s still too tough to stir or get out of the container, you can reheat the water and repeat the steps above (though 10 minutes is usually enough to get the honey in even a full Manukora jar smooth again). 

Wrapping Things Up 

Raw honey will naturally harden if stored for prolonged periods at a temperature cooler than room temperature. 

While its appearance may seem a little out of the ordinary, crystallized honey is completely fine to eat, both as-is and when warmed back to its creamy consistency. 

Manuka honey from the majestic Manuka tree to your table, 

  • For an energy boost, learn about the unique Honey Energy benefits of Manuka honey. 
  • To understand the source of this superfood, delve into the Manuka Tree Origin and its impact on the honey's quality.

Fun fact: Creamed honey is a type of honey that has been guided into a micro-crystallized state, and it makes for a delicious topping on toast! You can check out our article on creamed honey here for everything you need to know.


Is crystallized honey safe to eat?

Yes, crystallized honey is completely safe to eat. While the texture and appearance might differ from its liquid state, the quality, taste, and potency of the honey remain unchanged.

Does honey's crystallization affect its health benefits?

No, the crystallization process does not compromise the health benefits of honey. The beneficial properties of honey, especially raw Manuka honey, are retained even when it crystallizes.

How long does it usually take for raw honey to crystallize?

The crystallization time for raw honey can vary based on numerous factors including its floral source, storage conditions, and temperature. Some honeys can start to crystallize within weeks, while others might take months or even longer.

Is it possible to reverse crystallization multiple times?

Yes, you can soften crystallized honey multiple times using the warm water bath method. However, it's important to avoid overheating the honey to maintain its beneficial properties. 


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