Why is most honey filtered?

According to USDA Grading Standards for extracted honey, filtered honey is honey that has been filtered to the extent that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles and other materials normally found in suspension have been removed.

Honey that is filtered by packers is filtered for various reasons:

  • Many consumers prefer honey that is liquid and stays liquid for a long time.
  • All honey crystallizes eventually. Suspended particles and fine air bubbles in honey contribute to faster crystallization. Filtering helps delay crystallization, helping the honey to remain liquid for a much longer period than unfiltered honey.
  • Many consumers prefer honey to be clear and brilliantly transparent.
  • The presence of fine, suspended material (pollen grains, wax, etc.) and air bubbles result in a cloudy appearance that can detract from the appearance. Filtering is done to give a clear, brilliant product desired by consumers. For the filtered style of honey, USDA Grading Standards for Extracted Honey give higher grades for honey that has good clarity.
  • Honey is filtered to remove extraneous solids that remain after the initial raw processing by the beekeeper.
  • Various filtration methods are used by the food industry throughout the world. Ultrafiltration, a specific kind of filtration used in the food industry, should not be confused with other filtration methods generally used in the honey industry. When applied to honey, ultrafiltration involves adding water to honey and filtering it under high pressure at the molecular level, then removing the water. It is a much more involved and expensive process, which results in a colorless sweetener product that is derived from honey, but is not considered honey in the U.S.
  • Honey that is filtered through more traditional methods is still honey, even if pollen has been removed along with other fine particles.

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