Some honey heating options

Supplier: SBH Solutions By: Nigel Smalls
26 February, 2013

At SBH Solutions we are always being asked by honey people for heating solutions.

The trouble is that there is no one answer - it all depends upon your volume, what your ambient temperature is, how much time you have and of course how deep your pockets are.  Part of the problem is of course that "honeys ain't honeys" and some are very difficult to shift from a solid state.

205 litre drums

For 205 litre drums, there is no doubt that the happiest of our customers are the ones using the HHD 1000w full length insulated jacket. Not only does it provide a lot of insulation against heat loss, but also an even heating all the way around the drum, from top to bottom. So leaving overnight in a shed or factory will generally see the honey heated without any discolouration or loss of quality, with the temperature control provided by a capillary thermostat.

The HJD 450w half height jacket is the "baby brother" to the HHD, with slightly thinner insulation to boot, but still with a thermostat. We have had mixed result with this, from a melt out in 5 hours to extract in a cold room, to another situation where it took 48 hours to reach a usable temperature. It all depends on the starting ambient. Some customers like Brookfarm have been known to have both HHD and HJD, using them on different manufacturing lines.

Many smaller users feel that they cannot justify the cost of the insulated jackets and use silicone band heaters which can be 15% of the cost of an HHD. These rely on a significant heat density applied to a small area which dissipates around the drum surface or into the product quickly enough not to damage or discolour the contents.

Our 750w band at 152mm wide dissipates the heat the most, but in many areas would not be sufficient heat due to starting ambient, so some users will take the 76mm wide 1000w or even the 102mm wide 1500w band. In some cases, another piece of metal sheet is used to slightly draw away from direct heat to the drum wall, but we cannot recommend this.

IBC Heater Jackets

A mass of honey is of course harder to heat and takes longer. Time is the major factor here as it can take days. We recommend the use of an 2200w IBC2 jacket and lid, or the 2000w IBC1 Hi-Heat. The IBC2 has the advantage of allowing a different temperature to be set at the top half, or for the top circuit to be switched off as the volume in the container is used up.

However, the IBC1 Hi-Heat is used successfully by Beerenberg in replacement of a heated ISO container where they once stored their IBCs. This made-to-order jacket includes insulated skirts that hang in the pallet space to reduce air movement under the base. One customer with an IBC2 plus lid still found that he needed to build himself a makeshift hot box around the IBC due to the cold position of his shed.

Custom Jackets

We are able to custom make heater jackets to suit different drums or IBC. For instance, we manufactured a special size for Capilano's stainless steel drum used on the sachet line; it takes so long to empty that the honey taken from the heating oven needed to be maintained at a level temperature.


For HHD and IBC jackets we offer trial before you buy, or for  emergencies we offer short-term hire of iBC2 to get customers out of trouble. Ask for details.


  1. Insulated heater jackets provide the most energy efficient solution for drums and IBC.
  2. Silicone band heaters can be used with care as the heat density can damage the honey.
  3. IBC heater jackets are efficient but slow.
  4. For very large volumes, drum and IBC ovens provide an effective alternative, although they are expensive to purchase and run.