Does Honey Go Bad? Unveiling Its Shelf Life

Quick summary: Yes, honey does not go bad and can last for a very long time. It can crystallize over time, but this is a natural process and doesn’t indicate spoilage.

Raw honey is a fascinating natural product that actually belongs to the oldest form of sweetener recorded in human history. They don’t call it the elixir of life for no reason. It has countless good characteristics for human health, and the recommendation of many doctors is to introduce it as a regular food in your menu.

If you like sweetened tea, it is healthiest to enhance it with honey, and the growing trend is to use it in coffee. One of the well-known facts is that this sweet elixir cannot spoil. We discuss whether this is really the case and what changes can happen to honey in the following. 

raw honey

How Long Does Honey Last?

Can honey last forever? The shortest possible answer is – yes. It can really last for a very long time. Some would argue it’s forever. And it doesn’t have to be pasteurized honey at all. Some specific changes can occur in its texture, which we will explain in more detail in the article, but honey is truly only food that does not spoil. But here are a few crucial assumptions for that to be possible: 

Condition No 1: Honey must be genuine

Unfortunately, forgeries are often sold under the honey label, but those are a mixture of sugar and some additives that aren’t healthy. This is an increasingly common case in the market. Since actual honey produced from bees is relatively expensive food, many find interest in selling adulterated merchandise. Such a product, of course, gives neither the nutritional value of honey nor the durability. Therefore be very careful when buying.   

Condition No 2: Honey must be uncontaminated

For honey to be long-lasting, it would have to be clean of external contaminants and bacterial growth. This means that you should always take the product out of the jar with a clean spoon in such a way that you don’t insert any contamination. Do not allow leftover food or grease to get into your pot. The honey can be spoiled if other food is found in it that could cause microbial growth or disturb its natural balance. This also applies to water molecules. Naturally, it contains a tiny proportion of water, often even below 18 percent, which is a big reason honey lasts a long time. 

What to do When Honey Becomes Hard and Crystallized? 

This is a very common occurrence. It can happen especially for honey stored at lower temperatures. It is also a sign that you have genuine quality pure honey because adulterated ones cannot crystallize. Don’t worry. The crystallization doesn’t mean it is spoiled. In fact, you can easily consume it as such, but if you still want delicate liquid matter, here’s what you need to do.  

Step 1: Put honey in a glass jar

Commonly, it is best to keep it in a glass jar to preserve the quality fully. However, if your have metal or plastic containers, it will be a good idea to transfer the honey to a glass jar before heating it. Choose a pot in which it can stay afterward, so you don’t do double work.  

Step 2: In another bowl, prepare the warm water 

Take another container that is slightly larger than the jar of honey and pour water into it. Let the water be approximately one centimeter below the jar cap to avoid accidentally getting water into it.

Step 3: Heat the water and put in a jar  

Heat the water to a maximum of approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not allow the water to be much warmer than that or boil because high temperatures can destroy specific beneficial qualities of honey. When the water is heated, put a jar in that water and let it stand. Occasionally reheat as the water cools to maintain the temperature. You don’t need to do anything else. The honey will gradually return to its liquid form. 

Which is the Best Way to Store Honey? 

Although it has impressive durability properties and shelf life, it is still better to store properly your honey so that you can enjoy the best quality for a long time. Here are some tips on storing honey, especially if you bought several jars at once and they will last a long time in your kitchen. 

Step 1: Choose a glass jar with a lid 

As we have already said, the best choice is a glass airtight container that has a lid. Glass is the highest quality food preservation material, and be sure to have a cap to prevent external germs from getting into the jar. So placed, honey can really last a very long time until you eat it.  

Step 2: Keep it at room temperature 

Many make the mistake of putting honey in the fridge or in icy places, thinking it will preserve some value. There is really no need for that. The cold will only improve the process of crystallization. Since honey does not spoil, you can keep it at room temperature for as long as necessary without fear. Such a temperature is best, and it will be easier for you because the product will be liquid and pliable. 

Step 3: Always take honey with a clean spoon to prevent contamination

It is very important to always use clean cutlery so as not to contaminate it with other substances. Take out the honey with a clean spoon and close the lid immediately afterward. That way, it will be safe for a long time.  


Can expired honey make you sick?

Yes. Like any other food, spoiled honey can make you sick. If you are not sure of the correctness of the food, rather don’t eat it.   

What if the label says that honey expired?

If the label indicates that honey has expired, it’s advisable to follow the expiration date. While honey generally has a long shelf life, consuming expired honey might result in changes in texture or flavor.

How do I know if my honey is bad?

You can know if honey is bad by looking for signs like crystallization, off-putting odor, frothiness, or an unusual color change. Honey that has developed mold or an unpleasant fermented smell should be discarded.

Is it OK to refrigerate honey?

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to refrigerate honey, although it’s not necessary. Honey can naturally crystallize over time, and refrigeration can slow down this process. If crystallization occurs, you can gently warm the honey to return it to its liquid state.

Is honey that’s crystallized still good?

Yes, crystallized honey is still good to consume. It’s a natural process that occurs over time due to the sugars in the honey. To return it to its liquid state, you can gently warm the honey in a warm water bath.


The benefits of honey are so great that it is advisable to consume it every day, at least a teaspoon of this flower nectar in your favorite tea. Honey can really last for decades without spoiling, and if you notice some changes like it crystallizes or changes color, it in no case means it is spoiled. Follow our tips on how to restore the texture of crystallized honey, and enjoy it for a long time. 

Up next: Honey substitute

*image by donogl/depositphotos GyCsenge/pixabay

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