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Honey has around 20% water content which is one mechanism of it's antibacterial action. If I mixed equal parts of honey and salt how would this affect the water content/activity of honey? Would it lower the content of water and thus provide a stronger antibacterial effect?

Also how would mixing salt with honey affect its other properties?

Thank you.

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  • $\begingroup$ When you mix the salt with the honey, does the salt dissolve? If so, then the water activity of the honey is going down. If not, then it may not be. $\endgroup$ – Curt F. Feb 22 '16 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ If it consists of 20% water I am assuming the salt would dissolve, no? $\endgroup$ – Nakute Marato Feb 22 '16 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ The solubility of salt in honey is probably much different than salt in water because of a large number of other solutes such as sugars, etc. It's very difficult to predict what would happen so in this case I think we need some experimental data. $\endgroup$ – Curt F. Feb 22 '16 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your quick responses. For the sake of the argument let's assume the salt would dissolve in honey. How much salt would I need to add to the honey to reduce the water content to 0%? $\endgroup$ – Nakute Marato Feb 22 '16 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ 1. Reducing water activity is not the same as reducing water content. 2. It would not be possible to reduce water activity to solely by adding salt. 3. You could reduce water "content" to 0 by using an infinite amount of salt. $\endgroup$ – Curt F. Feb 22 '16 at 16:20
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Any antibacterial effect of honey would need to be determined without salt, first, and then compared with the salt added.

It would be hard to state that there is any antibacterial effect without evidence. It would be interesting to see the results of a careful controlled experiment, with varying concentrations of honey on different bacteria. For example, simply covering the growth medium with honey might just prevent growth of aerobic bacteria, as it excludes oxygen, so should not be considered an "antibacterial effect". Comparing the honey with an equally-concentrated sugar solution would help determine if osmosis (or sugar concentration) is the cause of antibacterial actoin.

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The salt will fall out because the 20% water is not enough to dissolve it. Plus many fine salts have anticaking agents such as TriCalcium Phosphate, which are not soluble in water.

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