View Full Version : How to remove moisture from honey

Yellow Bee
10-06-2011, 08:35 PM
We have extracted honey that is approximately 2% more moisture than needed. We already had extracted it and have it in buckets. Is there a way to remove this moisture by using fans and or a dehumidifier? desperate, need help!

10-06-2011, 08:40 PM
You need to expose alot of honey surface area to make the dehumidifier effective. Maybe you could run the dehumidifier in a small room and get the humidity in the air down really low and then pour the honey from one container to another many times. I don't know if that would work, but it might.

2% more than needed? Does that mean 20%?

Yellow Bee
10-06-2011, 08:44 PM
Thanks for the reply. It's at 20.5%. I have large flatter pans I can use to transfer back and forth if you think this would help.

10-06-2011, 08:44 PM
heating my extractor itself and walls helps while spinning, ive dropped 1 to 3 %.

10-06-2011, 08:46 PM
I have large flatter pans I can use to transfer back and forth if you think this would help.

I do. And a fan to blow the low moisture air across the surface of the honey should help too.

Yellow Bee
10-06-2011, 08:48 PM
Great idea.

Yellow Bee
10-06-2011, 08:49 PM
Will try. Thanks for all the info. Hope to get the hang of this business one of these days!!

10-07-2011, 12:31 AM
Someting I would like to build: tall box about 3'x2' but 5' high pour honey into a top tray/pan that has holes drilled in rows so the honey dribbles through. The dribble hits a ss metal strip about 2 " wide bent into a 90 deg corner and runs down to another row of ss metal strips that are offset. at the bottom is a dehumidifier. The honey keeps dribbing from strip to strip until at the bottom it hits a pan that collects and channels it to another bucket.
Box has a channel along the side with a fan to move the air from the dehumidifier up so it travels down through the metal strips, over the honey and returnes to the dehumidifier.

| pan on top dribbes | |
|-------------------| |
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^| < |
_^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^_|air |
\ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ /| ^ |
_\ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ /_| ^ |
_ \ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ /_ _| ^ |
air|pan to collect|air| ^ |
^ |
Humidifiier Fan > > |

You would want to off set the metal 90Deg pieces so that the dribble of the upper hits near the center of the lower. this would cause the honey to have to run down from one to the other and along the 2" metal run. This would in effect stir the honey exposing a large area to the dry air.

10-07-2011, 08:31 AM
instead of all that, why not buy a refractometer. Then there is never a question of moisture. It is so simple to use, you can test honey in the comb. If the honey is to wet, simply put a fan on and a dehumifier, check the next day.

10-07-2011, 09:14 AM
Honeyshack, I think the point is that he has already tested with a Refract. and now has the Honey extracted and wants to lower the mosture content.
I am not sure that a dehumidifier would change the levels in sealed honey. Now if it was 'decapped' it could be hung and the extraction delayed.

And there is always the problem of a couple of frames that change the level of several others that are ok. When they mix in the extraction, they mix. The issue would be then getting mosture out of all of it.

Does anyone know if a dehumidifier will extract mosture through the wax or will it simple make the wax more brittle?

10-07-2011, 12:52 PM
Running a fan across a flat pan of honey will introduce a lot of dust. I have used a method that works fairly well. Sorry I don't have pictures but I'll describe as best I can. Cut the flat center out of a bucket lid so you have a flat, round disk. Cut a hole in the center of that so that a length of 1 1/2" or 2" PVC pipe will fit snuggly into the hole. Cut the PVC pipe to a length that will extend well down into the honey when the round disk on the other end is just at or above the top of the honey. Drill a hole in the bottom end of the pipe that the air line from a fish aquarium pump will fit into. Put the bucket of honey with the PVC pipe & disk in it and the aquarium pump running in a confined space (I used a closet) with a dehumidifier and let it run. The air bubbling up the pipe forces honey out the top that spills on the disk at the top expanding the surface area exposed to dry air. It works faster if you can heat the honey to 100 - 110F. I put my bucket of honey on a heating pad set at its lowest setting. It may take a few days, a lot depends on if you can heat the honey and the dehumidifier, but it will reduce the moisture.

10-07-2011, 01:08 PM
Just remembered I did a sketch of the pipe/disk insert to explain this once before. Here is a link.

Imagine that in your bucket with the air hose in the hole at the bottom.

10-07-2011, 02:17 PM
Yes you can dry down capped honey. Use the dehumidifier and a fan...works great.

My point was...test before you extract...or test the first load...then decide to continue or stop and dry down the frames. Since the honey was tested post extraction...there was a refractometer to be had somewhere.

10-07-2011, 03:05 PM
This looks like it will solve your problem.


Might be handy to have around

10-07-2011, 04:17 PM
If going "high tech" is an option, I may have an idea.

I'm thinking a container with a honey pump, that pumps the honey up so that it dribbles down a stainless mesh/hardware cloth with somewhat large openings. (A bit like Jrbees idea)

There should be a fan inside for air movement.

At the top there should be a pointed condenser, letting the water drip into a drain that takes the water out. - Possibly by a swan-neck or into a separate container to avoid contamination.

As the honey should be heated, and condensation needs cold, the container should be heated and the condenser cooled. In the spirit of high tech, this should be done by a $1000 heatpump.

Edit: Just got thinking that if you know the amount of honey, and how much water should be removed, you should be able to read of a separate container to see when enough water has been removed. -Say you have 50Lb of honey at 20% water content, that means that one pound(two cups) should be removed to give 18%.

10-07-2011, 04:57 PM
I just had to deal with the same problem with 20 gallons of Cabbage Palm honey last month. The average moisture content was at 21% even though all the comb was capped before the extraction. I ended up setting up a dehumifier in a small air tight room with a small fan that was blowing across the 1/2 full buckets of honey. The dehumidifer warmed the room up to almost 100 degrees after 24 hours which helped a lot. Twice a day I stirred the honey, once before going to work and once at night. Beside that I stayed out of the room and tried to keep it air tight. It took about 6 days to dry the honey down to 18%. If you have some large flat pans or containers you should be able to dry out the honey quickly using the same procedure I used. I had the honey buckets sitting on some of the plastic shelving from one of the big box stores. Just try to increase the surface area of the honey as much as possible and let the air flow do the rest. Next year I plan to get some flat storage containers and use them instead of the buckets (this time it was an experiment). If you are worried about getting dust in the honey just filter it again when it is dried out. A lot of wax particles floated to the surface of my batch as it was heated in the room and I was able to filter it out by pouring it through a bucket filter.
I've heard about using an aquarium air pump to bubble dry air through the honey before and would think that it would work great, the bubbles would also cause some stirring of the honey which is important to prevent layering in the container as the honey dries. I just didn't have an aquarium pump handy to give it a try but it would of really been a help with the buckets.
I was thinking of making something to stir the honey with but was nervous that it would cause a spill or contaminate the honey some how. Once you introduce moving parts and machinery into a project monitoring becomes needed. A dehumidifier and a fan just sits there and does the job. Keep It Simple!!
Hope this helps.

10-07-2011, 09:17 PM
i had a 5gal bucket that had about 50lbs in it with about 20% moisture (i needed that empty super, that is why i extracted early). just for experimenting, i took my heat lamp i use for baby chicks and put it about 6" above the level of the honey. which put it about and inch above the top of the bucket. in a little over 24hrs it dropped it to just under 18%. i stirred about every 12hrs. plus the honey was nice and warm so it poured great! i did it in my garage with nothing fancy, just some saw horses and a heat lamp. kind of hill-billy-like, but it worked in a pinch.

10-08-2011, 08:07 AM
i was going to reply to this thread yesterday but i was a bit crusty and my post might have had a nasty tone to it.
After a night's sleep, i got to say this post will still not be on the great side so take it with a grain of salt please!!!

1. we extract honey so we can feed to our family or sell it.
2. we want a quality product
3. we want a clean product
4. beekeeping is an expensive endeavor, paid for by the extracting of honey!!!

Ouch this will hurt... :pinch:

SO...why in the world would anyone think of building a contraption or buying a 14000.00 contraption to dry down honey (no disrespect Mbeck) when we could buy a digital refractometer for 300.00 or a manual one for less, and get honey which was ready to go, clean and safe and with the right mositer.
Building some sort of pan drip system increases the risk of contaminating the honey with dust, with airborne particles, dirty fingers etc...and dang...one more thing to clean to a food grade clean standard...one more big piece of equipment to store, maintain...
The idea of using a heatlamp which was used in a chicken coop....YES i have had chickens and raised chicks for many years...is dirty, dusty and plain cross contamination causing....words can not describe! One could never get that heat lamp, cord, and socket clean enough no matter how hard you tired...to place over a RAW product!!! Good grief.
Wildflowerlanehoney, I understand the need to extract the honey early cause you needed a box. Here is the deal...the honey needs to heat in a hot room over night before extracting to get it to flow better...One box, one night, one dehumifier or one fan would have dropped the moisture in hours.

Beekeepers...use your refractometer...even if the honey is capped...before you extract the frames. If you do not have one, and you sell your honey....get one!! It is or should be part of the "must haves" if you are selling your honey. We are trying to put out a quality product, not make people sick!
Remember these three words.....QUALITY and CROSS CONTAMINATION...when dealing with a food product!

10-08-2011, 02:52 PM
If you have your bees in an area that has high humidity like Florida it has been my experence that you will never be able harvest low moisture honey. I bought a refractometer just for that reason, checking on the moisture in the honey. The best I have been able to get so far straight out of the hive has been 18.5%. I only pull fully capped frames at the end of the honey flow. There is some types of honey, Cabbage Palm for example, that has a high moisture content. We are discussing what to do with high moisture content honey and how to dry it down to acceptable levels. I have tried setting the full supers in a hot room with a dehumidifer and a fan for 48 hours. It helped but there is always the possibility that Small Hive Beetles will move in and destroy the entire crop if the supers are stored that way for too long a time. I agree with Honeyshack that it is better if you can harvest low moisture honey but in the real world it just doesn't work that way.

10-08-2011, 05:58 PM
I learned a lot on how to dry hydroscopic hydro gels for use as a conductive adhesive at my last job.

You can place the substance in a very dry clean room but this takes many days. It also takes longer the dryer the substance gets. In other words you can drop the moisture level of a substance from 45% to 20% pretty quickly but getting it down another 3% takes forever for instance.

Anyways the drying efficiencies increase with air movement as you would expect but in the case of materials that are hydroscopic you have to blast the surface to break up the air molecules at the surface and thereby separate the water molecule from the substrate.

Most people do not want to heat the honey but the warmer the honey is the faster it will give up the moisture. that is probably obvious. Using warm air to blast the surface will also help and you could monitor the temperature of the honey so it doesn't get above your acceptable level. The air can be quite hot (200-250) but the dryer the honey gets the faster it will heat up so you have to watch it if you use high temperature air blast. Now there are several different hot air oven designs used for this purpose but I think a slit nozzle would be best for honey. The slit would be about 1/8 think directed at both sides of a honey pour from another 1/8 nozzle. So essentially you take a 5 gal bucket and cut a slit in the bottom 1/8 wide and direct these air nozzles from both sides as the honey pours out of the bucket and falls into another. Of course you need a pump now to cycle the honey back to the top bucket.

It has already been mentioned that forced air will put dust and dirt into the honey so it is imperative that the nozzle air is filtered and the room is air conditioned (clean air) not cool. That is done by blowing filtered air into the room and letting it seep out cracks through doors and windows that don't seal too well. This is called a positive pressure room. A shop vac with a hepa filter works great but you are using the blowing end not the suction end.

You can take this concept to what ever production level you need. The key thing is that the air needs to scrub the surface of the honey not just blow around. Once the moisture gets into the air it will be pushed out the openings in the room by the dry makeup air that you filter and blow back into the room. If you do not change the air in the room you will accomplish nothing in short order because the relative humidity will go up and defeat the drying efforts.

Good luck with your drying efforts.

10-08-2011, 09:09 PM
This subject has come up before but I haven't seen this solution proposed so here goes. If one gets a vacuum pump such as is used by air conditioning mechanics to remove moisture from air conditioning machinery before charging with refrigerant. One also builds a tank with a removable lid that can support a vacuum of a bit more than 15 psi. In other words an absolute pressure of .3 psi inside and normal atmosphere outside. At small scale a mason jar will probably do.

One would then partly fill the tank and attach the vacuum pump. When the pressure in the tank is reduced to around .3 psia the honey will boil at room temperature. Of course this will result in the temperature rapidly falling so heat will have to be added to keep the temperature up to 70 degrees or so. A water bath will probably suffice. If the initial weight of the honey is known the amount of weight reduction necessary is easily computed.

Advantages- no contact with possible pollutants during processing, honey is never heated above room temperature, air bubbles will expand at low pressures and quickly float out.

Disadvantages- Volatiles, which give taste and smell to many things may be removed faster than the water although some optimizing of temperature and pressure may minimise this (vacuum dried foods are usually well received).

I haven't tried this and hope someone will and report the results here.


10-09-2011, 08:09 AM
Yes, I agree. Vacuum will pull off some moisture but the vacuum pump and condenser is very expensive. Here again the dryer the honey gets the harder it is to pull the moisture out.

As a reference we mixed our gels under a vacuum (26-27 Hg) in a 250 gallon mixer. Moisture was around 90% water and in 6 hours it would pull out about 2 quarts. Reaction was exothermic so it supplied its own heat. Temperature was slightly over a hundred.

Yellow Bee
10-09-2011, 10:02 PM
Thanks to everyone. As to the reason we extracted honey before testing it. We are human and forgot! Won't make that mistake again. We set up a table in a bedroom not currently in use and put the honey in flat cake pans. We ran 3 fans to move air under the table and a dehumidifier in the room. I covered the honey with cheese cloth to keep out dust etc. I stirred the honey every 3 hours for 2 days and then retested. We are down to 17%. As I cleaned and put away our honey spinner I included a note. Test before you spin! Once doing things this way was enough for me! Thanks again!

10-10-2011, 01:22 PM
I don't test mine. Don't the bees know what moisture the honey should be before they cap it?