There are many uses of honey products, such as a healthcare supplements, beauty care supplies, and a natural sweetener. Consumers use color to judge the quality of honey products, which ultimately leads to their purchasing choices. Image Source: Flickr user Natalie Maynor

It’s only mid-February, and despite Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction this year, spring is already on its way. Soon the farmers markets will open up with stands of young plants, early vegetables, and, of course, my favorite commodity…honey! All those jars filled with that rich, sticky substance are just waiting for someone like me to snatch them up. With its many delicious uses, honey has become a staple in my household, no matter what season it is, and finding the best honey products is always my top priority.

There are various types of honey products on the market today and each has many uses, such as healthcare supplements, beauty aids, and, of course, food products and natural sweeteners. It’s no wonder that the market for honey is booming and the competition to create a quality product is high. To meet consumer demands, honey producers know that the first step to a top product is visual appeal. Honey products are classified according to several standards such as honey color, filtrations, aroma, and flavor. However, when shopping for quality honey products, honey color is the primary factor that most buyers refer to when making their selections. Measuring honey color is the first step in developing a quality honey product, and the right tools in color measurement can help make the job easier more effective.

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Honey color measurement standards

Measuring honey color is more important that just final product appearance. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has set specific regulatory standards for honey color and the appearance of honey related products. This grading scale uses optical density to measure the color designations of extracted honey and to meet the U.S. fancy comb-section honey color requirements. Spectrophotometers offer the best technology for measuring optical density in liquid substances and modern instrumentation options have become highly versatile and effective for quantifying these measurements.

Using spectrophotometers, numerical data is obtained which measures caramel color based on absorbance and transmittance values. This information is classified by an optical density reading of white water, extra white, white, extra light amber, amber, and dark amber. Using the APHA (American Public Health Association) color scale of whiteness values, comparisons are determined for classification of honey color based on clarity and purity to meet the regulatory standards expressed by the USDA.


Honey color is measured based on optical density readings. Spectrophotometric technology is specifically designed to meet honey color measurement requirements for regulation standards and quality control. Image Source: Flickr user Dino Giordano

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Addressing the challenges of sample measurement

Spectral technology offers the most advanced method of analysis for honey color. However, measuring high viscosity sticky substances can present some challenges. Proper sample holders are essential for measuring these types of liquids and developing an average sample reading is critical for maintaining consistency and quality standards. The HunterLab MiniScanTM XE Plus spectrophotometer is specifically designed to measure honey color from a variety of angles and create an average color reading for the most accurate results. The cube shaped sample holders are uniquely designed to measure both the middle and sides of the sample, providing more superior results than the standard one-way method of analysis. The plastic sample holder design is both affordable and washable, making it ideal for honey color measurement. For other honey product sample measurement needs, HunterLab spectrophotometers are uniquely designed for adaptability and larger surface area measurements.


When choosing color measurement instrumentation, it is important to choose a product that is adaptable to various sample types and offers a high level of accuracy. Image Source: Flickr user Emma Jane Hogbin Westby

HunterLab is a leader in color technology and spectrophotometric instrumentation. With over 6o years of experience in color measurement, we have the foundation and knowledge to address any color measurement need or challenge. We pride ourselves on our customer relations and work hard to form a partnership with our clients in order to develop the highest quality products available. Contact us today to find out why top industry leaders choose HunterLab for all their color measurement needs.