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Q: I was in a “kosher” supermarket and found a few brands of steel wool without a hechsher. I remember reading that oil is used in the production of steel wool so as to reduce friction. Does anyone know what type of oil is used? In other words, should all steel wool need to have a reliable hechsher?
A: The experts we spoke to were of the opinion that mineral oil would be used for this purpose, and since mineral oil is kosher from any source you can feel free to use any steel wool even if it is not kosher certified.
On a related topic, some steel wool comes with soap already on the steel wool. The soap does not pose a kashrus concern, even if the company acknowledges that it is made from non-kosher animal fat (as one prominent brand does), because soaps are considered inedible. Accordingly, you may use the steel wool even if it contains soap.