Honey : Source Production, Chemical Constituents, Chemical Tests, Uses and Adulterants

Source, Method of
Production, Chemical Constituents, Chemical Tests, Uses and Adulterants of  Honey


At the end of this
lecture, student will be able to:

• Discuss the pharmacognostical aspects of

– Honey


Synonym: Mel,
Madhu, Honey purified

Source: Sugary
secretion deposited in the honey combs by the bees Apis mellifera, Apis dorsata
and other species of Apis

Family: Apidae


• Nectar (25% sucrose, 75 % water)

• Invertase

• Smoked

• Centrifugation

• Natural draining

• Apply pressure

• Heated to 80oC

• Rapidly cooled


• Colour: Pale yellow to yellowish brown

• Odour: Pleasant and characteristic

• Taste: Sweet and faintly acrid

Chemical constituents

• 70-80% of invert sugar, mixture of dextrose and levulose

• Glucose, fructose, sucrose

• Acids – formic acid, acetic acid, succinic acid

• Enzymes – Invertase, diastase, inulase

• Vitamins, proteins, pollen grains

Chemical tests

• 1 ml of honey + 4 ml of alcohol, some more honey:

– At 4 ml the solution is clear, upon addition of honey, the
solution does not becomes turbid. (Turbidity shows the presence of dextrin and
added glucose)

• Fiehe’s test


•    Demulcent

•    Sweetening agent

•    Antiseptic for
burns and wounds

•    Preparation of
creams, lotions, soft drinks and candies

•    Vehicle for
ayurvedic preparations

Substitutes and

• Artificial invert sugar

• Sucrose

• Commercial glucose

• Liquid glucose

• Adulterants normally contain large amounts of furfural
derivatives – Fiehe’s test

– Honey – extracted with ether, ethereal layer – separated,

– To the residue 1% resorcinol in hydrochloric acid is added

– Faint pink colour – natural

– Persistent deep cherry red / pink colour – adulterated


• Honey is the sugary secretion from the honey comb with
invert sugar content

• Adulterant in honey can be identified by Fiehes test