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Purity of honey

QUESTION: How can we test the purity of honey?

A. R. Harihar, Palakkad, Kerala

ANSWER 1: The purity of honey can be easily detected using different methods. One such test is the aniline chloride test. Here aniline chloride is first prepared and then used for testing. Three parts of aniline and one part of concentrated hydrochloric acid gives us aniline chloride.

A small ceramic vessel is taken and a small quantity of honey is placed in it. About 5-7 drops of aniline chloride is added to it and stirred well. If the honey is adulterated a crimson red colour appears.

In another method honey is taken in a test tube and equal quantity of water is added to it and stirred well. About 100 millilitres of this solution is taken and 5 ml of ether is added to it. This mixture is kept aside for some time in order to get a fine solution after stirring. The ether layer settling on the top is transferred to another small flat bottom vessel. The ether gets vapourised in a short while and to this resorcinol is added. This gives a red colour. This indicates that the honey has an adulterant.

In addition to all these tests an important factor to be highlighted is about the granulation of honey. One of the nutrients (sugar) in pure honey precipitates when it is subjected to cool weather. This precipitation gives an appearance of sugar crystals. The honey giving more sugar precipitates faster. Mostly this is mistaken for adulteration. But if the precipitated honey is kept in hot water it attains normal liquid state which shows that it has no adulterant.

T. Kalaivani, Chidambaram, T. N.

ANSWER 2: A cotton wick dipped in pure honey when lighted with a matchstick burns and shows the purity of honey. If adulterated, the presence of water will not allow the honey to burn, If it does, it will produce a cracking sound. Generally honey is adulterated by adding a syrup of jaggery. Pure honey does not dissolve in water but impure honey dissolves. So to test it mix a spoon of honey in a cup of water and find out whether it dissolves to check its purity. — The Hindu S & T desk

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