The moisture content of honey is now considered more important than ever. Regulations now specify the allowable moisture content and beekeepers need to measure it when selling honey. This can be achieved by an instrument called a honey refractometer. It can help prevent your honey from fermenting. To know about the sugar content of the honey and the right time to harvest, a honey refractometer comes in handy.

honey refractometer

What is a honey refractometer and how does it work

A refractometer measures the degree to which light bends as it passes through a solution like a glass of water. So you can get the refractive index and brix reading in this glass of water. Degrees brix is a common scale to measure the dissolved solids in a solution. It helps identify the concentration of a substance in this liquid sample. Degrees brix can also be expressed as °Bx.

A honey refractometer measures the refractive index as it passes through honey. Then you can get the moisture content in a honey sample. Thus, beekeepers are more certain of the risk of honey fermentation. And they can determine whether to make some corrections. There exists capped honey and uncapped honey. Capped honey is more suitable to extract and sell because uncapped honey usually contains a high water content.

Application of refractometer for honey

Beekeepers use a refractometer for honey to measure the honey moisture content. It helps a lot in determining the quality of honey. It is easy to use and accurately measures the amount of sugars. The refractometer is measured on brix scale. A higher brix value means a higher-quality rating. Some brix meter refractometers may also have a water content scale for readings.

It also applies to honey production. Therefore, the higher brix in honey means the better the quality. When using a refractometer, the brix scale and water content scale work in opposite directions. To obtain a high-quality product, the honey should have a low moisture content and a high brix value.

A honey refractometer can also tell you about the condition of your honey. In this way, the beekeeper harvests honey at a right time. If the beekeeper harvests honey too early, the moisture content may be too high. Then it may cause the honey in the jar to ferment, resulting in unnecessary waste. To harvest high-quality products, you need to know how to calibrate and use a refractometer for honey.

refractometer for honey

How to calibrate honey refractometer with olive oil

If you lack a special calibration solution, you can calibrate honey refractometer with olive oil. The steps of calibrating a refractometer are usually as follows.

First, clean the surface of the sample plate with a lint free cloth. Place a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on the sample plate. You’d better avoid air bubbles. Hold the refractometer towards a light source and adjust the angle if necessary. Then focus on the eyepiece. There will be a blue and white area with a sharp line between the two colors. This line is your brix reading. If the reading is not too close to the brix of the calibration oil, you must adjust the refractometer for honey. If using distilled water to calibrate, the reading after calibration needs to be 0 brix.

There is a calibration screw on the handle. Use this calibration screw to adjust the sharp line to the honey measures appropriate for your solution. If your brix refractometer reads olive oil correctly, it is now ready to use. But it is not necessary to adjust the refractometer before each use.

As for digital brix refractometers, the operation to calibrate honey refractometer with olive oil is easier than that. You don’t need a light source and adjustment screw for the angle. Besides, the reading displayed on the screen is very clear.

ATC honey refractometer calibration

Before measuring moisture in honey samples, you need to calibrate your refractometer. It aims to ensure that the beekeeper accurately measures the amount of sugars. So, you’d better perform ATC honey refractometer calibration before using it.

At first, open the cover and clean the prism with a lint free cloth. You’d better clean it each time before you use the refractometer. Next, add a few drops of calibration oil like extra virgin olive oil. The calibration oil is a reference solution with a known brix reading. Its brix will be written into the instructions. The temperature has a great influence on refractive index readings. Thus, you’d better perform the calibration and take honey measures at a room temperature.

The basic steps are the same as calibration with olive oil mentioned above. After adding the sample, you just need to wait a few seconds until it displays 0 brix for distilled water. You can calibrate without the adjustment screw for digital models. But for most refractometers, you also need to make sure that the temperatures of your device and calibration oil are the same. If your device comes with an ATC function like FJD ATC refractometer, it will perform temperature compensation automatically to keep it at room temperature. So, this digital honey refractometer can perform ATC honey refractometer calibration.

refractometer for honey

How to use a refractometer for honey

After calibrating a refractometer, the device is very easy to use. Ensure that the honey is well mixed and the temperature is the same as the refractometer.

The first step is to clean the plate or tank with a lint free cloth. Then add a few drops of honey to the plate or tank and spread it out. It aims to avoid air bubbles in the honey. You may need to close the panel and squeeze out any air by gently pressing it. But this step is unnecessary for digital handheld refractometers.

Next, hold the analog refractometer towards a light source and focus on the eyepiece. For a digital honey refractometer, you don’t need to measure with a light source for its built-in LED screen. Wait until you see a blue and white area with a sharp line at the intersection of the two areas. Or just wait a few seconds to get a stable reading for digital handheld refractometers. For some refractometers, now you can get both brix and moisture in honey.

After the measurement, clean the stainless steel sample tank with a lint free cloth. You need to take multiple measurements and calculate the average value for accuracy. This step especially works when measuring moisture of a large quantity of honey. Clean the refractometer after using. For analog refractometers, you’d better not scratch the prism as it may impair the accuracy.

calibrate honey refractometer with olive oil

Why you need a digital honey refractometer

A refractometer is a useful device if you want to produce honey of high quality. It is designed for measuring sugars and the specific gravity of liquids. And the moisture content of honey can affect how quickly it ferments. Thus, it is vital to measure the honey moisture content. If you want to store your honey for a long time, you’d better use a refractometer for honey. Because the moisture in honey determines to a large extent whether or not it will stay fresh. To keep the honey better, the water content should be lower. For professional beekeepers, it is important to produce honey with the appropriate water content.

There are many honey refractometers with different features on the market. If you want to find a refractometer that fits your needs, check the types of refractometers below.

atc honey refractometer calibration

Types of honey refractometers

You can get two main types of honey refractometers: analog and digital refractometers.

They both can measure the moisture content or sugar content of liquids. The main difference is how the results are read. With an analog refractometer, you look through the eyepiece to read the results. However, digital refractometers will display the readings on the screen.

An analog refractometer is a relatively cost-effective tool to measure the moisture content of the honey. This device can also be applied in measuring sugars and the specific gravity of different liquids. It is a portable handheld model for professional beekeepers and honey producers. For some refractometers, there is also an automatic temperature compensation function to provide accurate readings.

A digital refractometer is a good choice to test honey samples. The refractometer comes with an LCD screen and a stainless steel sample tank. It is very easy to use and carry for its portable size. And for FJD digital handheld refractometer, it integrates all functions into one button. So you can both read the sample and calibrate the brix meter at this button. Besides, this digital honey refractometer can be used by government honey inspectors. That is because it can provide accurate readings for automatic temperature compensation. Professional beekeepers or those who want to grow their honey business may benefit a lot from this tool.

digital honey refractometer

How to choose a refractometer for honey

To choose a good refractometer for honey, the following features need to be considered.

Refractometer type

You can choose to buy an analog or digital refractometer. A digital refractometer will display the readings automatically on the screen. But for an analog refractometer, you need to look through an eyepiece to get the results. Thus, the digital model can eliminate human reading errors. Besides, some digital refractometers work with an integrated button for all functions. So it is easier to use and read. You can choose a refractometer type suitable for yourself.

Measurement range

Different refractometers may display a different measurement range. Thus, you need to determine what range you need. As for the FJD refractometer, it can measure a wide brix range of 0% to 95%. So it can cover almost all your needs including fruit, coffee, seawater, wine, honey, maple syrup, etc. Besides, you can read the brix value within 2 seconds and the accuracy is ±0.1%. To measure the honey by a digital refractometer, a few drops of honey sample is enough.

Temperature compensation

To choose a refractometer, it is necessary to consider the temperature requirements of the honey sample. Because the refractive index can vary with temperature. A good honey refractometer comes with an automatic temperature compensation function. With this, the device will display the same value over a wide range of temperatures. All FJD refractometers have an automatic temperature compensation function. It aims to ensure accurate measurement results regardless of the surrounding temperature.

Best digital honey refractometer

A good way to harvest fermented honey may be of great help to obtain high-quality products. A digital brix refractometer is a great tool for beekeepers, whether they are hobbyists or business people. Because the refractometer is efficient, accurate, and easy to read. Moreover, it can also be used by government honey inspectors.

If you want to own a good refractometer for honey, choose the FJD Refractometer. It comes with different ideal models as they are durable, accurate, and easy to use. FJD digital honey refractometers provide accurate measurements in a clear display. It can help you determine the best time to harvest your honey with appropriate water content. Thus, it is a consistent method to get your honey as good as possible. In a word, FJD refractometers work as multi-function tools like honey refractometers, coffee refractometers, and maple syrup refractometers.