How To Decrystallize Honey in The Microwave

How To Decrystallize Honey in The MicrowaveNothing beats a bowl of honey on breakfast cereal or as a sweetener for tea and coffee. It is one of my favorite pantry staples, and a day can’t go by without craving that rich, creamy taste.

My grandmother swears that a spoonful before bedtime relieves allergies and prevents colds. Since then, it has become a tradition to have fresh jars of this natural cough syrup in the house – just in case!

But sometimes, the liquid gold hardens into tiny clumps and doesn’t pour quite as easily from the jar. Never fear! With a microwave, you can quickly restore crystallized honey back to its original state.

Here’s how to decrystallize honey in the microwave.

Transfer desired amount of honey to a microwavable container. Place it in the microwave and heat at medium power (50%) in 30-second intervals until softened, stirring after each interval. Once liquefied, remove from microwave and use as needed.

For more insights on why honey crystallizes, how long it takes to soften in a microwave, what happens when heated, and much more, please see below.

 Why Does Honey Crystalize?

How To Decrystallize Honey in The MicrowaveHoney crystallization is simply sugar precipitating out of the liquid honey to form minute crystals.

The process is purely natural and does not affect the quality or flavor of your sweetener in any way. In fact, it is a positive indication that your honey is unadulterated and has not been overheated, watered down, or mishandled.

To understand further why this happens, let me take you on a quick science lesson.

For starters, honey is a supersaturated sugar solution with less than 20% water and traces of minerals, vitamins, and other substances. In other words, there are insufficient water molecules to hold all the sugar molecules together.

Over time, the water separates from the sugar, forming tiny crystals that pile on each other. Eventually, you are left with a jar full of hard, crunchy lumps of crystallized honey.

However, sometimes the process can be fast and occur within a few weeks, while other times, it can take six months or more. It depends mainly on a few factors, including storage temperature, amount of pollen in the honey, and much more.


What Factors Contribute to Honey Crystallization?

As I’ve mentioned, the rate at which honey crystallizes depends on a few factors.


1. The Pollen Concentration in Honey

Pollen indicates the type of plant the bees fed on during their honey-making adventures. They function as building blocks for sugar crystals, hastening crystallization. Raw, pure, and unfiltered honey contains more pollen than its processed counterparts and hence crystallizes faster.


2. Storage Temperatures

Refrigerating your honey or storing it between 50-59F will speed up the crystallization process. To curb this, simply store it above 77 F, and you should be set for a while. However, be careful; a temperature above 104F will damage its essential enzymes.


3. Glucose to Fructose Ratio

Crystals form easier when there’s excess glucose than fructose. The ratio varies depending on what plants the bees feed on.

For instance, clover, alfalfa, mustard, and dandelion all have high glucose levels and low fructose levels. These honey are typically easy to find but crystallize quickly. The opposite is true for blackberry, tupelo, and maple, which have high fructose levels and comparatively less glucose.


4. Honey Processing

Honey that has been heated, filtered, pasteurized, strained, and diluted with water before jarring does not crystallize. The heating process destroys any remaining pollen and enzyme activity that could induce fermentation, halting crystallization. However, it degrades essential compounds too.


Can You Microwave Honey to Soften It?

How To Decrystallize Honey in The MicrowaveAlthough not the best method, microwaving is an easy and quick option to soften honey.

However, to achieve the desired results, you must proceed cautiously.

I know how it feels when your honey crystallizes after a few months of sitting on your shelf or at the back of your pantry. It’s frustrating to scrape hardened bits off your jar only to have them clump up again after a few days or weeks.

While I don’t mind the pleasant crunchy texture of crystallized honey, sometimes, I want it runny for my tea. Fortunately, microwaving always works for me. However, if honey is heated for too long, the sugar caramelizes, destroying raw honey’s flavor and beneficial enzymes.

So, what should you do?

I find that microwaving my syrup jar in 30-second increments, stirring between intervals, works best. Set the power setting to medium so the honey can decrystallize gently without scorching or burning.

However, I must sternly advise against microwaving honey in its original bottle. The high temperatures will melt any plastic sealant and contaminate the honey with toxic chemicals. Instead, I recommend transferring your jar into a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl.


How Long Do You Microwave Honey?

Typically, a honey jar will take about 30 seconds to decrystallize in the microwave. The time may vary depending on how much honey you are softening and your microwave’s wattage.

However, timing is only appropriate if it does not affect the enzyme activities that contribute to the flavor and aroma of the honey. Beyond 140°F (60°C), the enzymes are destroyed, compromising the quality of the honey.

As a result, special attention should be given when heating your syrup jar. I find microwaving it in 30-second bursts works best, with less chance of overheating. Repeat this process, stirring between intervals, until you reach the desired consistency.

If you notice any charred scent while heating, remove it from the microwave immediately. But if some crystals remain, return to the microwave and continue heating until all have dissolved.


What Happens If You Heat Up Honey in Microwave?

How To Decrystallize Honey in The MicrowaveMicrowaving honey above 140°F degrades its quality, while at 160°F, the sugar caramelizes and turns into a hard, unusable goo.

Myths and fallacies abound when it comes to heating honey in the microwave. Some argue that it makes it poisonous, while others maintain that microwaves destroy its nutritional benefits.

So, what are the facts?

I took the liberty of microwaving a jar of local raw honey for 5 minutes on high and found some interesting facts.

Contrary to what I have been led to believe, it did not become toxic and remained absolutely sweet. However, the honey lost some of its natural flavor and smell when left for too long. Worse, the beneficial enzymes were destroyed by the high temperatures.

In my opinion, microwaving honey only works if the process is constantly monitored and done in short bursts to prevent overheating. If that fails, seek alternatives to heating your honey, such as immersing the container in warm water or using a double boiler.

These methods allow for gentle heating without altering the chemical structure of the honey, retaining all its benefits.


What Is the Best Way to Decrystallize Honey in Microwave?

Here are some tips for reviving your hardened honey in the microwave:


  1. Never microwave your honey jar in its original container, as it can lead to disaster. Most packages are made of plastic and will melt when heated, releasing toxins into your honey. Instead, transfer it to a microwavable safe dish or bowl, such as glass or ceramic.


  1. Decrystallize only what you need. You will notice that microwaved honey crystallizes faster than other methods. Over time, repeatedly zapping your honey can destroy the beneficial enzymes, leaving you with a sugary syrup instead.


  1. When microwaving honey, heat at 30-second intervals and stir in between cycles. The breaks give you control over the process and prevent overheating. On the other hand, stirring ensure that every crystal dissolves and that heat is distributed evenly, preventing burnt patches.


How To Decrystallize Honey in The Microwave

Now that we’ve established microwaving is a safe way to decrystallize honey, it’s time to get started.


  1. Transfer your jar of hardened honey into a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Only scoop out what you need for the recipe at hand.


  1. Place the bowl with the honey inside the microwave and heat it on low-medium power in 30-second increments.


  1. Remove the bowl from the microwave, stir well, and then continue heating for another 30 seconds. Repeat this process until all the crystals have dissolved into liquid honey.


  1. Constantly monitor the temperature of the syrup as you microwave and keep it below 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Overheating causes the sugars to caramelize, resulting in a burnt flavor and the destruction of enzymes.


  1. Once the crystals are dissolved, carefully remove the jar from the microwave as it will be hot.


  1. Serve on top of waffles, toast, oatmeal, or fruit for an extra burst of sweetness. Alternatively, let the honey cool down before adding it to ice cream, salad dressings, sauces, or marinades for an extra kick.


How to Prevent Honey from Crystallizing


Honey crystallization is inevitable, but you can slow it down. Here is how.


  1. Store honey between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit or at a cool room temperature (below 72 degrees Fahrenheit). Refrigeration, for example, will only accelerate crystallization and should be avoided.


  1. Instead of a plastic container, store honey in a glass jar. Plastic containers are more porous, absorbing moisture from the air and speeding up crystallization.


  1. Seal your jar tightly with a lid and keep it away from light. Leaving it open allows particles to enter and exposes the honey to moisture, hastening the process. Also, make sure that the storage jar is clean and completely dry.


  1. Do not steep honey with herbs. This is especially true if the herbs are leafy, such as rose, because their fluids contain compounds that induce crystallization.


  1. Buy what you can consume! I know it sounds obvious, but buying small quantities saves you the hassle of having to decrystallize your honey every time you crave it.


Final Thoughts

Although not the optimal method for decrystallizing honey, microwaving offers a quick and convenient solution. However, high temperatures can alter the flavor and destroy beneficial enzymes inherent in raw honey.

And if the temperatures are left unchecked, sugar may caramelize, resulting in a burnt flavor. Therefore, microwave in short bursts at low power settings, often stirring, until you achieve a liquid consistency.

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