Honey, a sweet and delicious food made by bees. And yet, as odd as it may seem, it never seems to spoil over time. So why is that? To answer that, we have to look at the properties of honey.
The first key property that allows honey to never spoil is its low water content and water activity. At a very low 17%, honey has a lower water content than most bacteria and fungi. In fact, most bacteria and molds need a certain water activity (on a scale of 0 to 1) of 0.75 or higher to be able to grow. Honey has a water content of 0.6, making bacteria unable to hydrate and thrive and the honey resistant to spoiling.
But that’s not all. Another key factor is the acidity of honey. Honey’s acidity is at an average Ph of 4, due to a contribution of certain acids. But the most important one is gluconic acid, produced by bees enzymes on glucose molecules in the honey. This in turn boosts the antibacterial properties of honey as bacteria tends to thrive in neutral conditions as compared to acidic ones. Another byproduct of gluconic acid is Hydrogen Peroxide, which can also limit bacterial growth.
Another interesting fact is that Honey has been used as an impromptu wound dressing to treat small wounds and burns!