Harvesting honey and having enough spare to sell is surely an exciting prospect for any freshly minted beekeeper.
The thing about honey is that it is not uniform, as there are various types and they all weigh different amounts per volume. So, whether you opt to sell your honey by the bottle or cut out pieces of the raw comb filled with honey, there will be some guidelines to adhere to.
While on average, honey weighs approximately 12 lbs per gallon, the density, water content, purity, and of course the type of honey-all factor into this weight.
So, the smartest way is to grab a scale and weigh out the honey to determine the real weight.
Weighing honey should be simple once you understand the process. This article aims to answer questions you may have about the weight of honey.
The confusion about different types of gallons
First things first. When it comes to a gallon, this pesky unit for measuring volume or amount of space something occupies, often confuses people. A gallon of milk, water, or paint will always be the same amount of liquid, but will not weigh the same.
Why, you ask? – Mostly because US gallons are different from the imperial gallon In the US, a gallon equates to 128 fluid ounces, also known as 3.785 liters. In the United Kingdom, and places such as Canada and some Caribbean countries, a gallon is 4.546 liters.
But there is more… A gallon has more than one meaning in the United States as the US also has a measurement for dry ingredients.
A dry gallon in the United States measures at 4.404 liters. The fluid gallon is therefore 14.1% smaller than the dry gallon, while the imperial fluid gallon is 3.2% larger.
We know that you are already getting dizzy from all of this ‘gallon extravaganza,’ so we decided to use American gallons to keep a standard of understanding in this article.
Is weight really required on honey packaging?
Apart from determining the weight of honey, which differs from the amount in milliliters, it is a legal requirement from the US Food and Drug Administration to include the net weight of the product that is being sold.
Both in pounds/ounces, as well as the metric weight in grams, should be included on the lower third of the front of the label.
It is also important to include the country of origin when it comes to honey.
In South Africa, there have recently been investigations into the purity of honey as it came to the foresight that many honey products sold as pure honey were mixed with syrup and sugar water.
This problem seems to be a global one. Honey of a single origin is generally much more trustworthy than honey originating from numerous countries.
The variation of honey density
The density varies between different types of honey. If a gallon (3.79 liters) of honey is dense, it may weigh even more than a gallon of less-dense honey.
But why does the density of honey matter? Why should you bother with it?
The density is often the telltale sign of how pure the honey is. It is essential as it determines the number of chemicals in the honey. So, denser honey is essentially purer.
A single drop of pure honey will stay on your finger, while contaminated honey will start spreading and spill. You can also test the purity with a glass of water.
Pure honey will sink when dropped into the glass.
Another method to check the purity of honey includes the flame test. If you dip a match into pure honey and strike it, it will still burn.
Heating honey will also provide answers as contaminated honey will become bubbly or foam when heated. Pure honey will caramelize quickly.
Factors influencing the weight of honey
There are various factors that could influence the weight of honey. Here are a few of them:
Moisture content in honey affects the weight of the final product. The higher the moisture content, the heavier the weight.
The moisture content of raw honey is ideal when it is less than 14%, while good quality honey should be processed with less than 20% water content, ideally 17-18%.
It is measured with a refractometer, a device that weighs the content of a solution such as honey by the refraction of light. To get the optimal results, it is important to ensure your instruments are calibrated.
The water content in honey comes from moisture content in the air and will reduce with time as the bees work. It will influence the ability of the honey to stay fresh and avoid fermentation. This is why it is not a good idea to harvest your honey too early.
Various types of honey also have different moisture content.
For example, clover honey has a water content of 23%, which is okay, but other types will start fermenting at this measurement.
Methods to remove moisture content include using a humidifier and a fan in a small room.
Heat is another factor that influences the weight and quality of your honey. It can have an effect on the enzymes, color, flavor, and scent of honey.
Because temperatures fluctuate between seasons, honey weight can therefore also vary. This can also vary between different regions.
In hot summer months, there is generally more humidity in the air, leading to the build-up of moisture content in the honey.
Heating honey is also a method to remove moisture, but of course, this can influence the quality of the honey if temperatures rise too high. Temperatures inside hives typically reach 35 degrees Celsius.
As the name suggests mono floral honey comes from a single source of flowers. It is also known as varietal honey.
However, even the same type of flowers can differ from one season to the next. Mono floral honey can range in color, aroma, and density as not all flowers are equal.
Beekeepers generally harvest the honey directly after the flowers have receded.
Because the honey is from a single source, the weight of the honey will differ from those from multiple sources.
While these flowers can still slightly differ from year to year, it creates a more constant density in the honey that is produced.
The way honey is stored can influence not only the quality of the honey but also the weight.
The best method to store honey is in an airtight container or glass jar, out of direct sunlight.
Moisture that enters containers that are not airtight will cause extra moisture to enter the jar. Keep your honey in a room with consistent temperature else it can change color.
Purity of honey is essential to determine the quality of the honey.
Denser honey is essentially purer while honey with added substances or more water will be of worse quality and generally lighter due to the reduced density.
Pure honey will not run from your finger, but if other elements such as syrup or sugar water are added, it will become runny.
As mentioned before, there are various tests such as the flame test or using a glass of water to test the purity of honey.
Different honey weighs differently per gallon
Because of their origin, temperatures, the humidity in the air, and of course the types of bees, different kinds of honey have slightly different weights.
In general, honey will always be near 12 pounds per gallon but can vary slightly.
Here are some examples of honey variation in weight between a few honey types.
|Honey type||Characteristics||Plant||Weight per gallon||Weight in Kilograms|
|Acacia||Light and clear with a rich floral aroma||Robina pseudoacacia flowers||12 lbs||5.44kg|
|Alfafa||Spicy with a scented, though mild aroma||Purple and blue alfafa flowers||11.44 lbs||5.18kg|
|Aster||Thick honey that crystallizes fast, light in colour, sweet smelling. Tastes best raw||Aster flowers||More than 12 lbs||5.44kg|
|Avocado||Buttery and rich||Avocado flowers||12 lbs||5.44kg|
|Basswood||Mild and delicate, floral aroma, light yellow||Basswood or linden flowers||12 lbs||5.44kg|
|Buckwheat||Dark in texture, high iron and antioxidant content,||Buckwheat flowers||12 lbs||5.44kg|
|Wildflower||Mixed from random flowers. Always varies in taste. Anti-microbial properties.||Random flowers||Never more than 12 lbs||5.44kg|
Variations between honey and other substances
A gallon of honey can weigh significantly less, or more, than other substances as the density differs.
Did you know that the densest material available out there is mercury? It is thirteen and a half times denser than water.
Here we look at some other fun everyday substances and compare the weight of each to that of honey per US gallon.
|Substance||Weight per gallon in pounds||Weight per gallon in kg||Characteristics that influence it, if any|
|Honey||12 pounds||5.44kg||Varies slightly between different honey varieties|
|Syrup||11 pounds||4.98kg||This is the minimum required weight to be legal|
|Water||8.34 pounds (3.87kg)||3.78kg||This is at room temperature|
|Milk||8.6 pounds||3.9kg||Fat and nutrient content could vary slightly, for example full cream milk to that of 2%|
|Wine||Approximately 8.4 pounds||3.8kg||Wine consists mostly of water, however the density may differ due to different grapes, as well as different fermentation processes.|
|Gasoline||Range between 0.71Kg/L to 0.77Kg/L in commonwealth countries and approximately 6.073lb/gallon in the United States.||2.7kg in the United States||Weight varies due to the different additives added to the crude oil in different countries. For example, detergents are used to reduce carbon buildup in engines, and dyes and ethanol are added as well.|
|Diesel||Roughly 7 pounds per gallon in the United States, and a little over 7 pounds per gallon in Canada.||3.17kg||Diesel weight will also vary slightly with temperature variations.|
|Paint||Varies between 6 and 12 pounds||2.72-5.44kg||The type of paint will influence the weight. An oil-based paint will be different than a latex or acrylic or enamel paint.|
|Mercury||112.95 pounds||51.23kg||Mercury is the densest element found naturally occurring on earth.|
|Propane||4.24 pounds||1.92kg||According to a former senior engineer, the weight will vary depending on whether it is under standard sea-level atmospheric conditions as a gas or in a pressurized vessel where it becomes a liquid.|
If you are curious about how these weights compare to other measurements, this handy converter will assist you in converting your substances into the weight you require.
The Wrap Up
There are many factors that go into the weight of honey. Because it is a natural substance, the density will differ due to water content, purity, and the type of flower the honey was created from.
Although different types of honey will have different weights per gallon, the purest honey will weigh approximately 12 pounds per gallon.
Because the weight of honey can differ, it is always best to buy, or sell your honey by the weight, and not by the quantity.