Honey has many physical and chemical properties that determine its shape, texture, taste and aroma. At its base, honey is primarily a mixture of sugar and water. However, elements such as acids and minerals in solution give its composition a variety of properties. One of these chemical properties is the pH of honey.
Outside the body, honey is acidic until ingested and digested. Once metabolized, honey is considered basic. Confusing but not uncommon, how can honey be both acidic and alkaline?
Introduction To PH
We measure pH on a scale of 0-14. The value determines acidity, alkalinity or neutrality. The strength of this value is illustrated by the reading’s distance from the neutral center of 7.
- Acidic: 0.0-6.9
- Neutral: 7.0
- Alkaline (or basic): 7.1-14.0
Only liquids in which the main component of the solution is water have a pH. For example, there is no pH in vegetable oil or gasoline. Since honey is usually around 20% water, it definitely has a pH.
What Is The Ph Of Honey?
Environmental factors such as geography and flowering species create a variety of honey varieties. We can visually see this from the color of different types of honey, but need to test for chemical changes.
The pH of honey is usually between 3.4 and 6.1, with an average of 3.9.
This reading is measured in several ways:
- General reading litmus paper
- a meter and a probe
- Titrate with sodium hydroxide
Despite the differences, all honeys are acidic before ingestion. The acids contained in honey are organic acids, amino acids, as well as aliphatic and aromatic acids, which impart taste, structure and aroma to the substance. The acidity reflects the flavor profile of honey, reminiscent of the light citrus flavor found in most varieties.
The acidity of real honey increases as the product ages and/or ferments. The fermentation process is a chemical reaction between yeast and sugar, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. When alcohol is exposed to oxygen, it breaks down into acid and water. This produces more acidic honey.
How Can Honey Be Both Acidic And Alkaline?
The kidneys provide balance between the food you eat and your blood system. If you consume honey with an acidic pH that is not good for your kidneys, the acidic compounds can disrupt your blood balance. However, because the kidneys filter these compounds, acidic or alkaline wastes do not enter your bloodstream, but instead enter your urine.
After your body digests and metabolizes honey, the byproducts of these systems are alkaline rather than acidic. Therefore, even though honey is acidic before ingestion, it is considered alkaline.
How To Measure The Ph Of Honey?
As opposed to using litmus paper or meters and probes, scientists use two methods to determine the pH effect of food on the body:
- Ash analysis
- possible renal acid exposure
To determine acidity by analyzing food ash, the food is burned and the resulting ash is mixed with water. The mineral ash that is left behind is the metabolic waste of food in your body. Nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium are alkaline.
Possible Renal Acid Exposure
The PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load) test measures how much acid your kidneys need to filter out a given food. This is mathematically calculated based on equations that enter nutritional data from actual food ingredient tables.
A positive PRAL score indicates that the food forms acids. A negative value means that the food produces alkaline waste in the body.
How Honey’s Ph Affects You
The acidity of honey is no problem for your system. Your stomach is filled with hydrochloric acid, causing its pH to vary between 1-3, which is highly acidic. There is no problem dealing with the acidity of honey.
Your kidneys are effective at preventing acidic or alkaline substances from being absorbed into your blood. Therefore, the only fluid affected by the alkalinity or acidity of food is your urine, which carries waste chemicals out of your body.
Honey Is An Acidic And Alkaline Food
When determining the pH of honey, it is important to realize that there are two different ways to look at pH. One is the effect of dietary pH on body systems as measured by ash analysis and potential renal acid load. Another is the flavor profile of the food before digestion, measured with litmus paper, titration, or meters and probes.
For honey, this lens is important when you’re looking at pH. When you harvest and ingest honey, it is acidic. It is only after you digest and metabolize food that it forms a fundamental reaction in your body.