Mixing Honey and Essential Oils
I've been successfully infusing honey with all sorts of herbs, powders, and botanicals for ages now, so that may be why this thought popped into existence all by itself earlier this year: whether it was at all possible to infuse honey with essential oils.
Logic, chemistry, and everything else says no because honey is water soluble and essential oils are, well, oils. But sometimes, I get a burning desire to test something anyway – just in case science and the rest of the world might have missed something.
(Hey, it happens)
Test One: Essential Oils in Raw HoneyPictured above: the first test. Three grams of raw honey and 1 gram of orange essential oil.
Here's a closeup of the container directly after adding the oil. Very clear distinction between the oil and honey.
Because this was a bit of an impromptu test, I neglected to think about how I was going to seal the container, but a bit of household cling-film did the job. After tightly sealing the cup, I parked it in my observation cupboard (room temp - no daylight exposure).
It was 2 days before I got around to checking, but to my amazement, the honey had absorbed the essential oils. The cling-film was still intact – nothing had gotten loose – so it didn't look like the oils would have had been able to evaporate.
Here's what it looked like. Nothing floating on top, just a homogenous mass.
Was someone a little excited to see this? Well, wouldn't you be?
Before announcing to the world I had broken the secret code of getting essential oils and water-based ingredients to marry seamlessly, more testing was in order.
I transferred the honey/EO from the little cup to a test vial (scraping the cup as clean as I could).
The test was then repeated with the same essential oil and 2 different types of honey. I labelled the vials and let them stand for observation. Pictured below: the vials after 4 months.
On the left: EO in acaia honey, in the middle, EO in heather honey, and on the right, the transferred original sample. The essential oil is clearly visible in both of the vials on the left, while the original test sample is still homogenous, but there is also loss of product.
Of Course it Was too Good to be TrueWhile this was a fun little exercise, it was also quite educational. I've definitely learned that doing tests with volatile ingredients in cute little ceramic cups using only cling film to seal the container probably isn't the best way of getting a trustworthy result.
On the other hand, I still can't figure out what happened to the essential oil. How could it evaporate through cling film? Another possibility is the small imperfections in the glazing of the cup - perhaps the oils were absorbed by the cup. More testing is in order!