I'm lucky enough to be able to purchase raw honey in bulk from a local apiary, so we always have it stocked. The many uses of honey make it one of my first “go to” home remedies, and a delicious addition to many recipes. Below I list some of our favorite honey uses that are too good not to share.
Uses for Honey #1 – Canning and Preserving
Honey has an amazing shelf life – they've found containers of it in the pyramids that were still edible. It's also great for helping you to preserve other foods.
To make honey syrups for canning fresh fruits or dipping fruits before dehydrating, use:
- 1 1/2 cups honey to 4 cups water for Light (less sweet) syrup
- 2 cups honey to 4 cups water for Medium (moderately sweet) syrup
Remember, honey may darken fruits a little, and will give a different flavor than processed sugars. Choose a lighter honey for a less pronounced flavor difference. Fruits dipped in honey syrup before dehydrating will be more like candy, with a sticky surface. You can use these syrups for preserving fruits, such as canned peaches. Many of our low sugar jams, jellies and spreads also substitute honey for sugar.
Uses for Honey #2 – Wound Care
The Book of Honey explains how honey heals:
Honey promotes healing in a variety of ways. The high sugar and low moisture levels create an osmotic effect, drawing liquid out of anything that comes into contact with it. If this is a bacterium, it is dessicated and dies. The same hygroscopic effect (ability to absorb and hold moisture) means that excess fluids are drawn from the wound site, which helps to reduce edema (build up of fluid in tissues) and inflammation. Added to this, honey is acidic, which creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria. Finally, honey is a source of hydrogen peroxide, which is a well-known antiseptic. Dilute the honey (by moisture from a wound, for instance) and the enzyme kicks in again, giving the antibacterial activity in the honey a boost. The honey carries on working efficiently, even though the hydrogen peroxide is much less concentrated than a standard 3 percent antiseptic solution. The honey is gentler and will not harm tissues.
I managed to tear a small hole on the side of one of my fingers this week while working in the garden, and the imbedded dirt just wouldn't wash out. I put on a honey bandage overnight, and by the next day the wound was clear of debris and the swelling was greatly reduced. Even though I managed to tear the hole open again the next day while canning (I don't like to wear bandages when I'm sticking my hands in water all the time), it closed up quickly and is showing no signs of infection.
You can read more about how to use honey for healing in the post “Honey as Medicine – Prevent Infection, Kill Bacteria and Promote Healing“.
Uses for Honey #3 – Cough Remedy
My younger son was a preemie (one month early), and when he was a little peanut he would always get stuck with coughing and sinus drainage during cold and flu season. Nighttime was the worst, because a random coughing fit could end with him throwing up all over his bed. We tried over the counter cough medicine once. It came right up again. Enter frantic internet search, and the realization that the remedy we needed was right in the cupboard. Thankfully he grew out of throwing up in the middle of the night, and has grown into a strapping teenager, but if one of us starts to get a tickle in the back of the throat, we reach for a spoonful of honey. If we need a general immune booster along with cough care, we'll try homemade elderberry syrup. (It's easy to make, and doesn't have all the additives like most store brands.) If we need some heavy duty help, I turn to these Cold and Cough Care remedies.
Uses for Honey #4 – Seasonal Allergy Treatment
Local, raw honey contains all the flowery, polleny goodness from the area where it was gathered, and regular doses of this honey often help with seasonal allergies. Depending on the severity of the allergies (and your sweet tolerance), you may try anywhere from one to three doses per day with 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon per dose. Bee pollen or chewing on a honeycomb are also commonly recommended. For more seasonal allergy remedies, visit “15 Home Remedies for Seasonal Allergies“.
Uses for Honey #5 – Skincare
From exfoliant to lip balm, honey cleans and protects, leaving skin smooth and soft. You can use honey “as is” for a simple facial mask. Wash with warm water to open pores, and smooth the honey over your face, avoiding the eye area. Leave for 15-30 minutes. Wash off with a soft cloth. For a more substantial mask, try the following recipe.
Honey Oatmeal Mask
Adapted from The Book of Honey
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon rosewater or distilled water
Blend the oatmeal and honey. Add rosewater or water. Mix until well blended. Wash face and apply as directed for basic honey mask.
Honey can also be used to make a simple lip balm to protect and heal dry, chapped lips.
Honey Lip Balm
Adapted from The Book of Honey
- 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon beeswax
- 3/4 teaspoon honey
- 4 drops lemon or peppermint essential oil
- Vitamin E Capsule
Place oil, honey and beeswax together in a double boiler or bowl placed in a pot of warm water. (Don't let the water get in the oil/wax mix.) Heat gently until wax is completely melted. Add essential oil and contents of vitamin E capsule (to help preserve the lip balm). Mix well. Pour into jar or lip balm tube and allow to cool and set.