This section is from the book "A Treatise On Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler", by Charles Herman Sulz. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Beverages.
When recently prepared, honey is a translucent or nearly transparent, pale-yellowish or brownish, thick, syrupy liquid, which, on keeping, separates a granular deposit, and is ultimately changed into a crystalline mass intermixed with some liquid. It is stated that California honey gathered in May becomes granular in a few days, but if taken in the season remains liquid for a long time. It has a slight acid reaction, an agreeable odor, varying more or less from causes mentioned above, and a sweet taste followed by a slight acridity. E. Dietrich (1877) ascertained that, by dialyzing honey into water, the dialyzed portion, on concentration, has a golden-yellow color and a remarkably fine floral odor, while the residue upon the dialyzer was destitute of honey odor and had a sweet but insipid taste. In some parts of Africa a brown, and even greenish honey has been observed, which may be produced by different species of Apis. Clarified honey has the same properties, except that it is more transparent, and has the specific gravity 1.30 P.G., 1.27 F. Cod.; neither the United States nor the British Pharmacopoeia indicates the density, which for our climate ought not to be below 1.38.
Honey dissolves readily in water, also in diluted alcohol, yielding in both cases slightly turbid solutions which have a faint acid reaction. A mixture of honey with two parts of water should have a specific gravity between 1.101 and 1.115 (U. S.), which permits the density of the honey to vary between 1.38 and 1.44.
The odor of honey is doubtless due to a minute quantity of volatile oil, which, according to Calloud, is intimately associated with a yellow coloring matter, melichroin, separated by the nectaries and bleached on exposure to sunlight. Small quantities of wax, and gummy matter are usually present, and A. Vogel (1882) found in crude honey about one per cent, of formic acid, which appears to preserve it from decomposition; but the main constituents are grape-sugar or dextrose and fruit-sugar or levulose, of each of which from thirty-two to forty-two per cent., or a total of about seventy-two to seventy-eight or eighty per cent., is present. The honey of an American wasp, Polybia apicipennis, according to Karsten, contains a little cane-sugar, and the same may be the case with honey from other sources; this constituent, however, is gradually changed to invert-sugar, which is a mixture of grape and fruit-sugars. It is the grape-sugar which renders honey granular, while the fruit-sugar remains liquid; the former turns polarized light to the right, the latter to the left. The albuminates, mucilaginous matter, pollen, and ash present in honey vary between about 0.5 and one or two per cent.; the ash left on incineration is generally between twelve and sixteen per cent., and, according to Hager, should not exceed five per cent.