Regular Honey, Raw Honey and Manuka Honey: What’s The Difference?

We sometimes get asked what the difference is between Manuka Honey and Raw Honey. Manuka honey is a type of raw honey, but often considered in a category of its own because of its unique benefits.

In this blog, we describe the difference between raw and regular honey, and why Manuka honey is considered a class of its own.


What is Regular Honey?

Regular honey is any honey that has been through the process of pasteurisation or filtration. Under this process,  honey is heated at high temperatures to kill any yeast that may be present to prevent fermentation occurring. It also slows down the crystallisation of honey.

Because of its low moisture content and high acidity of honey, bacteria and other harmful organisms cannot live or reproduce in it, so unlike dairy products, honey is pasteurized primarily to prevent fermentation [1] rather than to kill the potentially harmful organism.

Fermented honey does not necessarily pose any health risk, and if the moisture content of the honey is below 18% (as it usually is), the yeast cells cannot reproduce. [1]

Another factor contributing to the popularity of processing honey is that it makes it look cleaners and smoother, which is considered to look better than the more textured, less consistent looking raw honey.

The honey you find in the supermarket will most likely be regular, unless otherwise stated, except for Manuka Honey which is raw.

What is Raw Honey?

Raw or uncooked honey is any honey that has not been pasteurised nor put through an intensive filtration system. It is primarily in the same form as it would be found “in the hive”.

Raw honey is rich in nutritional value, including approximately 22 amino acids, 31 different minerals and a wide range of vitamins and enzymes, found in trace amounts [2].

Without the ultrafiltration process, raw honey retains pollen. Pollen is what the honey is made from. In a paper published in 2016, researchers unequivocally recommended bee pollen as a valuable dietary supplement due to its biological and therapeutic properties [3]. Processing methods like heat treatment and ultrafiltration can remove bee pollen.

Raw honey is usually put through a straining process to remove beeswax, propolis, and other organic particles. However, this process still leaves behind potent medicinal compounds such as pollen and some remnants of royal jelly.

To be considered raw, the honey must not be heated above the typical temperature of a hive – about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or 35 degrees Celsius. When honey is heated past the maximum hive temperature, the living enzymes and other nutritional components intrinsic to honey will be compromised, and it starts to degrade, as is the case with regular honey. [4]

Raw honey will usually granulate, or crystallize, to a thicker consistency after a few months. This can appear as large crunchy grains or smooth and creamy. Both consistencies are normal for raw honey. The rate of crystallization varies based on the nectar source. [4]

Why is Manuka Honey Unique?

Manuka Honey is unprocessed, raw honey. It is not pasteurized nor put through an intensive filtration system.

Unlike other types of raw honey, Manuka honey comes from the pollen of the Manuka tree, a native tree found in New Zealand. Manuka has many health benefits and medicinal properties.

Methylglyoxal (MG) is an enzyme unique to Manuka honey that does not exist in any other honey. This enzyme is derived from the Manuka plant and has a high level of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which makes Manuka Honey unique.

Manuka Honey has a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) that indicates the amount of Methylglyoxal in the honey and its antibacterial potency.

Choosing Your Honey

If you intend to consume honey for its health benefits, it helps to be well informed so you can select the honey that suits the intended use.

Pasteurization and microfiltration performed on regular honey alter its natural state. Research suggests that this process reduces its biological and therapeutic properties. For this reason, raw, unprocessed honey is considered significantly more beneficial as a health food or natural medicine.

Manuka Honey, a type of raw honey, is regarded as one of the most valuable types of honey because of its antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. The distribution and sale of Manuka Honey is well regulated, genuine products can be identified through certification, such as the NZ Government Fernmark certification licence.

Look for the New Zealand Government licence known as the Fernmark label on Manuka Honey products to make sure they are the real deal from New Zealand.

Forest Maker Honey

Here at Forest Maker Honey we offer Manuka honey with a range of Unique Manuka Factor levels, so you can find the honey that suits your intentions and your budget. We are proud to be accredited with the NZ Government Fernmark certification licence, and that the profits from our honey sales goes back into regenerating the Manuka forests from where it came. 

which honey is right for you?