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Pesach FAQs

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Alcohol – Cosmetics

Q. I know that alcohol can be made from wheat.  What about things like isopropyl alcohol?

A. Benzyl alcohol, methyl alcohol (a.k.a., methanol), isopropyl alcohol, and stearyl alcohol are not made from chametz.

Ethyl alcohol, a.k.a. ethanol, can be made from chametz, and isoamyl alcohol is often a byproduct of whisky.  (These may also appear on an ingredient panel as part of a compound such as ethyl acetate or isoamyl butyrate.)  Accordingly, they are not recommended unless they are known to be free of chametz.

Denatured alcohol, a.k.a. SD Alcohol, is ethyl alcohol which has been blended with other materials to render it not potable; there are different opinions as to whether such alcohol is forbidden on Pesach.  The cRc position is that if the denatured alcohol is in a product manufactured in the United States, one can use the product.


Q. Does perfume have to be specifically approved for Pesach?

A. That depends on whether denatured ethyl alcohol is or is not considered inedible. For more on that issue, see the Pesach FAQ on “Alcohol”.


Q. Is it okay to use my regular toothpaste on Pesach?

A. There are those who take the position that toothpaste is considered inedible, since any food that tasted like toothpaste would never be served as a meal-item. This is the justification for why many Rabbis permit the use of any toothpaste (year-round) despite the possibility that the glycerin contained in the toothpaste is made from non-kosher animal fat. Others argue that toothpaste is halachically considered edible, and they are supported by the fact that people put toothpaste into their mouths every day (and that young children choose to eat it).  Some follow that position all year-round and will only use a toothpaste that is certified as kosher (or free of glycerin).

The cRc accepts the lenient approach as relates to year-round use but recommends that one be machmir for the strict opinion as relates to Pesach.   Therefore, for Pesach we recommend that one only use a toothpaste that is known to be chametz-free.

What ingredients in toothpaste might be chametz?  Just about every variety of toothpaste contains sorbitol, which is created by “hydrogenating” glucose.  Glucose can be derived from chametz, kitnios, or completely innocuous ingredients, and (although most glucose and sorbitol in the United States is not made from chametz) we cannot recommend toothpaste unless we know what the glucose is made from.  Toothpastes also commonly contain other minor ingredients which raise chametz concerns.

Allergen Statement

Q. How come the food I bought for Pesach says “may contain wheat” on the label? Isn’t wheat chametz?

A. Foods that contain an allergen must declare that on their label. Wheat is an allergen, and if the label says, “contains wheat”, the food is presumably chametz.  [Although, bear in mind that items made with matzah meal may be kosher for Pesach, even though they obviously contain wheat.]  Some manufacturers go one step further and add a “precautionary” statement, such as “manufactured on machinery that processes wheat”, or “may contain wheat”.  These types of statements are not required by law and are voluntarily included out of an abundance of caution.

The fact that the food was produced in a facility that also houses or processes wheat is not a reason for consumers to be concerned that the product is chametz.  This is because in most cases there is no realistic chance of mixing of chametz into other foods.  Even if a small amount of airborne flour (for example) did get into the chametz-free food, that is not of halachic significance, and the food may be eaten on Pesach.

There are some cases where there is a legitimate risk of contamination.  One example of this is quinoa, as some factories that package quinoa also package other grains, and it is possible that kernels of wheat or barley will be mixed into the quinoa.  In these types of cases, cRc will recommend that the food only be eaten if specially certified for Pesach, which ensures that the food is free of chametz and kitnios.


Q. Why do nuts which contain BHA or BHT require hashgachah for Pesach?

A. BHA and BHT (Butylated hydroxyanisole and Butylated hydroxytoluene respectively) do not inherently pose a Pesach concern, but they are often applied to nuts (and other foods) in a soybean oil base. Soybean oil is kitnios; therefore, we cannot recommend items with BHA or BHT unless they are specifically certified for Pesach.

Bottled Water

Q. Is bottled water acceptable for Pesach without special certification?

A. Yes, and this is true even if the water also contains minerals such as calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate, potassium bicarbonate, potassium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, or sodium chloride. But if it contains vitamins and/or citrates (e.g., calcium citrate), then it should only be used if certified as kosher for Pesach.

Brown Sugar

Q. What about brown sugar makes it that it requires Pesach certification? Isn’t it just sugar that does not have the molasses removed from it?

A. Genuine brown sugar is a precursor to white sugar and does not require special Pesach certification. However, nowadays much of the brown sugar sold in the market is white sugar which is colored brown with molasses or caramel color, and those two ingredients are potentially not acceptable for Pesach.  Additionally, in some brown sugar, the process begins with an enzymatic “inversion” of the sugar.  For these reasons, we recommend that consumers only purchase brown sugar that is certified for Pesach or approved for Pesach by a reliable agency.

Buy Before Pesach

Q. I see that you recommend certain items for Pesach but say they should be bought before Yom Tov. If they do not contain any chametz, why can’t I also buy them on Chol HaMoed?

A. First a bit of background – the prohibition against eating chametz on Pesach is so strict that if the tiniest amount of chametz is mixed into food on Pesach, the food cannot be eaten. In other words, the standard rules of bitul b’shishim do not apply.  But that is only true if the chametz was mixed in on Pesach; if it happened before Pesach, the food is permitted assuming the chametz was batel b’shishim.

There are a handful of items – milk, eggs (in the shell), bagged salads, baby carrots – where (a) additives are used which might be chametz (although they likely are not), (b) the additives are in such small proportions that they are surely batel b’shishim, but (c) these foods arrive at stores very soon after they are prepared.  Raw eggs have an additional concern, due to the slight chance that there was chametz in the ink used to mark the eggs or as an additive to the water used to wash the eggs. As a result, the milk, eggs, etc. which you buy on Chol HaMoed might have been produced on Pesach with a chametz additive which cannot be batel (since it was added on Pesach).  Accordingly, we recommend that if these items are not available with Pesach certification, one should purchase them before Yom Tov to avoid these concerns.

Coatings on Fruits & Vegetables

Q. Are there any kitnios or chametz issues regarding the coatings put on fruits and vegetables?

A. Generally not, but the exception is dried fruit, such as raisins, which may have a kitnios coating to keep the fruits from sticking to one another and should only be used with Pesach certification.

Decaffeinated Coffee

Q. Why does your guide say that decaffeinated coffee has to have hashgachah for Pesach? Why is the coffee more problematic if the caffeine was removed?

A. There are several methods of removing caffeine from coffee beans, and a common denominator between them is that the beans come in contact with a (hot) liquid which draws the caffeine out of the bean.

The liquid used for decaffeination may be water, a chemical solvent (i.e., ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, carbon dioxide), or a combination of the two.  Sometimes water extracts the caffeine from the beans, and then the solvent is used to extract the caffeine from the water before the water is reused.  In cases where the chemical solvent has direct contact with the beans, the beans are often soaked in hot water or steam to soften them before the solvent is applied.

The Pesach issues with these processes are that (a) ethyl acetate may be derived from chametz, and (b) the water used in the process is sometimes purified (hot) on a carbon bed, which is in turn purified with hot ethyl alcohol, which may be derived from chametz.  Due to these concerns, decaffeinated coffee is only recommended on Pesach if it bears a reliable kosher certification, which guarantees that the decaffeination process has no traces of chametz or kitnios.  [In addition to the issue of decaffeination, instant coffee and flavored coffee require hashgachah for Pesach.]

Egg Matzah

Q. The Pesach egg matzah in the store says that it can only be used by the elderly or infirm. Why would it say that?  Either it is kosher for Pesach or not?

A. The Ashkenazic custom is that healthy people do not consume “egg matzah” (i.e., matzah made with liquids other than water), but anyone who is incapacitated or sick and would benefit from eating egg matzos is permitted to do so (Rema 462:4). The decision whether one may consume egg matzah should be made in consultation with a Rabbi.  [Even when egg matzah is permitted, it must bear a reliable Pesach certification.]


Q. Is there anything I need to know before buying eggs for Pesach?

A. Raw eggs that are still in the shell can be used for Pesach, even if they are not specifically certified for Pesach. This is true of both white and brown eggs and also applies to eggs which are pasteurized in-shell.  However, eggs which are not specifically certified for Pesach should be bought before the holiday, so as to avoid the slight chance that there was chametz in the ink used to mark the eggs or as an additive to the water used to wash the eggs.  [Such chametz would not pose a concern if it was present before Pesach.]

In contrast, liquid eggs (refrigerated or frozen) and cooked eggs require special Pesach certification, because they may possibly contain sensitive ingredients or have been processed on equipment used for other items.

Frozen Fruit

Q. Your Pesach Guide says that frozen fruit may be used without hashgachah if it is not sweetened or cooked. What if the ingredient panel says that it contains ascorbic acid, citric acid, or sugar?

A. Ascorbic acid or citric acid may be made from chametz or kitnios (or innocuous). But if the ingredients are just fruit and sugar, and the product is not cooked, you may use it for Pesach, even without special certification.

Frozen Vegetables

Q. Why do frozen vegetables require Pesach certification?

A. Frozen vegetables sold as “raw” are, in fact, cooked for a few minutes in a process known as “blanching”. Some of the factories which blanch vegetables also blanch pasta/chametz, and, therefore, frozen vegetables should only be used with Pesach hashgachah.  This guarantees that the vegetables were not cooked on equipment which had been previously used for chametz.

Gluten-Free Foods

Q. My family is gluten-free, so does that mean we can eat all our gluten-free food on Pesach?

A. People who are celiac or otherwise choose to avoid gluten will not eat items that contain wheat, rye, spelt, and barley, and at first glance it would seem that anything labeled gluten-free is automatically suitable for Pesach. The simplest reasons why this is not accurate are that (a) oats can be gluten-free, yet oats mixed with water is chametz, and (b) corn, rice, and beans are all gluten-free but are not eaten by Ashkenazic Jews due to the custom of avoiding kitnios.

In addition, to qualify as gluten-free, the FDA requires that the product be shown to contain less than 20 ppm of gluten.  This may be an appropriate standard for people suffering from celiac disease, but such tests will not show whether the product was produced on hot equipment used for chametz/gluten (which was not kashered) or whether the gluten-free products had incidental contact with gluten-containing grains during transit or processing.  Such issues have been observed by Mashgichim overseeing kashrus for items claimed to be gluten-free.

However, there is a more fundamental reason why gluten-free products are not necessarily acceptable for Pesach – the standards for gluten-free and chametz-free are not the same!  The term “gluten” is used to refer to specific proteins (gliadin, hordein, and secalin) found in certain grains, and any item free of those proteins can be labeled gluten-free.  Of course, these grains also have other components such as starch, which may be gluten-free but are most definitely chametz.  Thus, for example, in some countries wheat starch which is converted into glucose, later becomes alcohol, and finally ferments into vinegar, may be labeled “gluten-free”, yet the product is clearly not suitable for Pesach.  A real-life example of this is Benefiber powder which is made of pure wheat dextrin and is chametz, but since it is free of wheat protein it is labeled as being gluten-free (see  Similarly, Scotch whisky is made of malted barley and is surely chametz, yet the Scotch Whisky Association proudly reports that it is acceptable for coeliacs (the English spelling of celiac) (see question #90 at  These examples reflect the fact that the standard for gluten-free is not the same as the halacha’s standard of chametz-free.

Accordingly, we recommend that people wishing to purchase food for Pesach check that the item is certified as being kosher for Pesach and not merely rely on a company’s gluten-free claim.

Ink Used to Mark Meat

Q. My butcher told me that he trims the ink marks off beef that will be sold for Pesach. (Sounds like a good idea for all year!)  What would be the reason for that?

A. The government and shochtim mark meat with special edible inks. The USDA regulates the exact ingredients allowed in the ink, and several of them are possibly chametz, but – in the United States – those chametz-sensitive ones are most likely kitnios.  The sensitive items include dextrose, (denatured) ethyl alcohol, and glycerin.  As no one has been able to obtain approved inks which are certified as being kosher for Pesach, many Rabbonim recommend that people should cut the “ink mark” off the meat which they cook on Pesach.  [It cannot easily be washed off.]  It is likely that the letter of the law is that the ink does not have to be removed (since the kitnios is likely batel b’rov in the ink, the sensitive ingredients are batel in the meat, the alcohol is denatured and also likely evaporates when the meat is stamped), but nonetheless it is an appropriate practice to remove the ink-mark before cooking the meat.

Invert Sugar

Q. Does invert sugar require special Pesach certification?

A. Yes; the process of “inverting” sugar (i.e., increasing the percentage of fructose as compared to glucose) requires an enzyme or a food-acid, and those ingredients are Pesach-sensitive.


Q. Is kamut chametz?

A. Kamut is a variety of wheat which, just like all other wheat, can become chametz if mixed with water and left unattended for 18 minutes. Accordingly, kamut and kamut-based products are not recommended for Pesach.

Milk Substitutes

Q. Is there any type of milk alternative on Pesach for those who are allergic to milk protein or sensitive to milk sugar (lactose)?

A. Rice milk and soy milk are common milk substitutes. Both beverages are kitnios and are, therefore, surely not permitted for Ashkenazim who are in good health and can manage without these items, but they may be halachically appropriate for someone with a medical condition.  A more serious concern is that these items often contain chametz either in the enzyme (a barley-based beta amylase) or in the flavoring.  Similar concerns apply to almond milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk (although these three are not inherently kitnios).  [Both the enzyme and flavoring comprise less than 1/60 of the beverage but cannot be batel because they respectively serve the role as davar hama’amid or milsah d’avidah lit’amah.]  A more recent concern is that the milk might be hot pasteurized on equipment used for oat milk.

Please check the cRc Pesach Guide or website for details as to which brands are acceptable for this year.

Some people react negatively to lactose-containing milk, because their bodies do not produce enough lactase, the enzyme which digests lactose.  These people can drink regular cow’s milk without any complications if (a) the lactase enzyme is mixed into the milk or (b) they take a pill of lactase together with their milk.  [Lactaid is a popular brand for both forms of lactase.]  The Pesach concern with this solution is that lactase is commonly created through a process known as Koji fermentation, which uses wheat bran as a primary ingredient.  Therefore, the cRc policy is that one may use milk containing lactase if the lactase was added by the company before Pesach, and one may use non-chewable lactase pills on Pesach.  However, one may not add lactase-drops to milk on Pesach, and one may not use chewable lactase pills (even if the person swallows them).


Netting and Twine

Q. I heard that the string used to hold together roasts can be chametz. How can string be chametz?

[A primary source for much of the information presented below, is Rabbi Yaakov Lach, author of Chullin Illuminated and manager of a twine and rope company.]

A. There is currently only one manufacturer in the United States who takes “dirty” cotton from the fields and converts it into twine. That manufacturer produces both regular and “polished” twine, and until a few years ago he would sprinkle flour onto the polished twine at the end of the process to help it dry.  The application of flour was a very messy operation done in the part of the plant where the twine was wound onto the rolls, and invariably there would be a dusting of flour on the non-polished twine as well.  Rabbi Wagshall (New Square) became aware of this and prevailed upon this manufacturer to switch from flour to ground marble (rock) powder.

There is no reputable information as to whether the same issue applies to twine manufacturers in other countries.

This type of twine is used by bakeries and is also sold to companies which use it to manufacture the netting which holds together pieces of meat.  Due to concerns that the twine might have a dusting of flour on it, many hashgachos are particular that the twine used in a matzah bakery and the netting used in their packing houses must come from sources which are known to be free of this chametz concern.

That said, the actual concern of flour/chametz having an effect on the person’s food b’dieved, appears to be quite minimal if the person used netting made from unpolished twine.  The halachic rationale for that position is that even if the twine was made in a factory that also uses flour, the ratio of flour to twine is assumed to be relatively small and is likely decreased each time the twine is wound/unwound or handled (e.g., when creating the netting, packaging it, putting it on the meat).  Thus, the only concern is that a miniscule amount of flour remains on the netting, and then if the meat is cooked on Pesach, it will affect the meat.  However, it would appear that any bit of flour left on the netting would be treated as already being in a mixture which is designated as being “lach b’lach” – either because it is mixed/absorbed into the actual netting or into the meat – such that it was already batel before Pesach.  Lastly, there is only a safek if there is any flour on a given netting or piece of twine, and many are of the opinion that safek of an issur mashehu is batel even on Pesach.  [See Shulchan Aruch OC 467:9 as per Magen Avraham 467:9, and other Poskim discussing that halacha.]

While these lines of reasoning justify the permissibility of the meat made in a netting of unknown status, it is appropriate that a hashgachah should be careful to only allow “approved” twine and nettings to be used in certified bakeries, stores, and packing houses.

A secondary (year-round) issue which was raised by Rabbi Elisha Rubin (OK) is that there are some nettings companies that submerge the nettings in a kosher-sensitive liquid so that the netting will be “quick release” or have other special features.  It is worthwhile to pay attention to these issues when selecting a netting to be used in a kosher packing house.

Olive Oil

Q. I saw a report about how common it is for olive oil to be adulterated, and that makes me wonder how you can recommend extra virgin olive oil for Pesach even without special certification. What am I missing?

A. From time to time, questions are raised as to the authenticity and kashrus-status of extra virgin olive oil.  These are primarily based on a study done by the University of California at Davis (UCD) in July 2010, as reported by a journalist named Tom Mueller.  The cRc has considered these concerns and does not deem them significant enough to affect our recommendation that extra virgin olive oil may be used for Pesach and year-round without hashgachah.  Many other hashgachos have independently come to the same conclusion.  [Other oils and other forms of olive oil, require certification both for Pesach and year-round use.]  The reasons for this are as follows:

  • There is a certain amount of government oversight that product is properly labeled.
  • UCD did a follow-up study in April 2011 and noted that the adulteration they are seeing falls into three categories – (1) oil which has oxidized due to heat, light or age, (2) intermingling of refined olive oil, and (3) oil with low quality due to overripe olives, improper storage, and similar issues.  Issue #2 poses a small kashrus concern, but the others do not.
  • UCD acknowledged that it is very rare for other oils to be mixed into extra virgin olive oil.
  • Others have raised significant questions regarding the unfavorable aspects of the UCD reports:
    • A group which filed suit against olive oil companies based on the UCD study, withdrew their lawsuit because they could not replicate the results (
    • NAOOA (North American Olive Oil Association) reports that in their repeated tests of retail samples of all types of olive oil, they have occasionally found adulteration, but it has consistently been in brands that have less than 2% of national retail market share.
    • NAOOA further stated that, “U.C. Davis was only able to arrive at its much-publicized failure statistics through crafty combination of results from chemical tests rejected by the International Olive Council (IOC) and sensory analyses done by panels that stand to benefit from promoting domestic production. The tests used are referred to as PPP and DAGs; they’ve been considered and rejected by the IOC because of failure to produce consistent, reliable results.”

Paper Bags

Q. When my mother takes hot cookies out of the oven, she puts them onto a paper bag to cool off. Does she need specially certified bags for Pesach?

A. Any kind is fine.


Q. Why do raw pecans require hashgachah for Pesach?

A. In most cases, when the nut is removed from its husk it comes out in two full segments – one from each side of the nut.  When that doesn’t happen, and the nut comes out in smaller pieces, that raises suspicion that the nut has been infested with the larvae of an insect called the pecan weevil.  One way to separate the infested pieces is by putting all of them into a bath of ethanol or isopropanol; the nuts that are infested will float to the top, and those which are not infested will sink to the bottom.  To avoid concerns that this may have been done with chametz or kitnios ethanol, we recommend that pecan pieces only be purchased if they have special certification for Pesach.  [This concern does not apply to whole pecan segments, which are recommended even if they are pasteurized, unless they are blanched, roasted, or have other ingredients added.]

Rice Cereal

Q. We’ve been told not to use commercially produced rice cereal for Pesach. What can we substitute for that?

A. Commercial rice cereal is not recommended for Pesach, because of the possibility that oatmeal flakes might inadvertently be mixed in, and because a chametz enzyme may be used in the processing. Instead, you can prepare your own rice cereal at home if you use specially designated pots and utensils (since rice is kitnios) and do not wash those items in the Pesach sink.  The internet has plenty of recipes for home-made rice cereal, and a common one is to grind rice in a blender, and then cook it up at a ratio of 1 cup water to every quarter cup of ground rice.


Q. Why does the cRc require a Pesach hechsher on unflavored seltzer?

A. There are several ways to collect carbon dioxide used to create seltzer, and one of them is as a byproduct of the production of beer or whisky. Of course, beer and (just about all) whisky is chametz, and there is a difference of Rabbinic opinion as to whether the chametz status transfers to the carbon dioxide gas.  Some are of the opinion that since carbon dioxide is a gas, and it is “scrubbed” of all chametz taste, it is permitted on Pesach, even though it comes from a chametz source.  The cRc follows the stricter opinion that treats the gas as chametz, since it is direct result of the beer or whisky production.

Tonic Water

Q. Does tonic water require special Pesach certification?

A. Yes. The carbonation might be derived from beer or whisky (see “Seltzer” above) and the flavor may contain chametz or kitnios components.  Depending on the brand, the tonic water might also contain other ingredients, such as citric acid, which are Pesach-sensitive.

Vanilla beans

Q. Are vanilla beans kitnios?

A. No.

Vegetable Wash

Q. Does vegetable wash require hashgachah for Pesach?

A. Yes. Although there are a few kosher vegetable washes on the market, to the best of our knowledge none of them are certified for Pesach.  If consumers wish, they can substitute a small amount of dish liquid (any are acceptable) which will do the same job, if not better.


Q. Can unflavored vodka made from potatoes be consumed on Pesach without special certification?

A. No. The process of producing alcohol for vodka necessitates enzymes, such as malted barley, which may be chametz, and involves the use of hot equipment which may have been previously used for chametz alcohol.  Therefore, we cannot recommend it without special Pesach certification.

Wheat Grass and Barley Grass

Q. Are wheat grass and barley grass chametz?

A. No. Only the wheat or barley berry/grain can become chametz when mixed with water, but the grass/stalk on which the grain grows cannot.  It is noteworthy, however, that wheat and barley grass are typically sold in a dried form, and we would not be able to recommend such a product for Pesach without verifying that no chametz was dried on the equipment used for drying the grass.

Baby Bottles

Q. Can we use the same baby bottle for Pesach that we have been using beforehand?

A. One should either purchase new baby bottles or kasher your existing ones before Pesach.

Please also bear in mind that most infant formulas – even those approved for Pesach use – contain kitnios.  Accordingly, if you put infant formula into the bottle, you should not wash it in the sink used for Pesach foods, but rather wash it in the bathroom or elsewhere.

Barbeque Grill

Q. We want to barbecue on Chol HaMoed.  What do we need to do in order to kasher our grill?

A. The grates of a barbeque grill must be kashered with libun gamur, and the simplest way to do this is by sandwiching the grill between layers of charcoal. Place a layer of charcoal on a cement surface, put the grate on top of the charcoal, and cover the grate with another layer of charcoal. Light all the charcoal, and allow it to burn for an hour. This will kasher the grates. [See for a short video on this process.] Alternatively, one can purchase separate grates for Pesach.

The rest of the grill can be kashered with libun kal, which can be accomplished relatively easily, as follows: If the grill comes with a cover, light the grill with coals or gas, close the cover, and allow it to burn on its highest setting (or filled with a considerable amount of coal) for an hour. If the grill does not have a cover, follow the same procedure, but make sure that all surfaces of the grill are covered with coals. As with all items being kashered, it is crucial that the grill be cleaned thoroughly of all food residue, which is often a particular difficulty in a barbeque grill. In fact, if the grill has too many holes, cracks, and crevices where food may get trapped, one should refrain from kashering the grill at all.


Q. How should I clean out my braces after eating chametz for the last time before Pesach?

A. We have been told by orthodontists that [for those people who do not have a water-flosser (e.g., Waterpik)] the best way to clean braces is to use a “proxa brush” which has a narrow-bristled end that fits between the different wires and brackets. It is an inexpensive and effective tool for removing all residue from braces and other dental appliances.

Convection Oven

Q. How should I kasher my convection oven for Pesach?

A. A convection oven (or a convection microwave oven) functions much like any other oven but has an added fan that circulates air during cooking. This increases the oven’s efficiency, encourages uniform temperatures in the chamber, and speeds the cooking process.  The fan is typically located behind a grate or shield (that protects the user for accidentally touching it) but is close enough to the cooking chamber that food and vapor will splatter and reach the fan.

Thus, although a convection oven can be kashered just like every other oven, the cleaning which precedes the kashering is more intense and complicated.  In most cases, the only way to clean the fan is to remove the protective shield from in front of it, and manually scrub the fan until it is free of all residue.  Only then can the standard kashering of the oven begin.

Counter Covers

Q. Do you have any recommendations for covering non-granite or stainless-steel countertops instead of using disposable plastic shelf or lining paper?

A. Some people have Formica-type covers professionally made to cover their counters for Pesach. Standard Formica is made of a very thin layer of laminate/plastic glued to a thick piece of wood, and the special Pesach covers are made from the same laminate glued to a thin piece of wood (to make it easier to maneuver and save from year to year).  If this is not an option for you, you may want to use disposable plastic shelf-liners, lining paper, or corrugated plastic sheets.

Countertops – Kashering

Q. I noticed in your Pesach Guide that you permit kashering countertops using irui, unlike the ruling of Mishnah Berurah 451:114 who requires an even m’lubenes.  Can you please point me to the logic or source for rejecting this opinion?

A. Shulchan Aruch 451:20 says that tables should be kashered via irui kli rishon. However, Mishnah Berurah 451:114 questions this ruling, because occasionally a hot davar gush (solid food) of chametz might be placed onto the table, and we are machmir for those opinions that davar gush has the status of a kli rishon such that irui kli rishon would not be a sufficient kashering.  Based on this question, Mishnah Berurah recommends that tables be kashered via irui kli rishon using an even m’lubenes to bring the level of kashering closer to that of a true kli rishon.  Why then does our kashering guide says that a table can be kashered via a mere irui kli rishon and makes no note of an even m’lubenes?  The answer to this question requires a deeper understanding of the halacha of “rov tashmisho”, as follows:

Shulchan Aruch 451:6 rules that – if a utensil is aino ben yomo – the method of kashering is determined by looking at the primary way the utensil is used (rov tashmisho), such that a table can be kashered via irui kli rishon, because the primary use of the table is not for a hot davar gushRema agrees that the letter of the law follows Shulchan Aruch’s ruling, but says that the Ashkenazic custom is to be machmir and choose a method of kashering that even suffices for the secondary uses (miut tashmisho) of the utensil.  Accordingly, in the case of a table irui kli rishon is insufficient, and that is the basis for Mishnah Berurah’s point.  Since it is merely a chumrah to be concerned with miut tashmisho, one is not required to follow that chumrah in cases of b’dieved (as noted in the aforementioned Mishnah Berurah and in Rema 451:6) or in cases where that will mean it is impossible to kasher the utensil (see Sha’ar HaTziun 451:51, based in essence on the ruling of Rema YD 121:5).

Accordingly, if one were able to kasher a table or counter via irui kli rishon with an even m’lubenes that would be the best way to kasher it, and in fact there are some people who do this.  However, for most of the public this suggestion is impractical due to the (a) inability of many surfaces to withstand such heat and (b) the difficulty in properly using an even m’lubenes over a large surface.  Therefore, we treat this situation as one where kashering based on miut tashmisho will mean that it is impossible to kasher the utensil and rely on the letter of the law that one may kasher based on rov tashmisho (i.e., irui kli rishon without an even m’lubenes).


Q. Can I kasher my dishwasher for Pesach?

A. The first step in kashering any item is to remove all residual chametz. With this in mind, Rema 451:18 rules that any utensil which has small cracks and crevices where food might get trapped should not be kashered for Pesach, because of the difficulty in getting the utensil perfectly clean.  According to our Posek, Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz zt”l, the racks, silverware holder, and drain/filter areas of a dishwasher are classic examples of Rema’s ruling; since there is a concern that food might be left in these areas, a dishwasher cannot be kashered for Pesach.  Others hold that Rema’s ruling is limited to strainers and other items that (a) have smaller and many more holes, and (b) come in direct contact with Pesach food.

Faucet With Spray Hose

Q. The faucet in my new kitchen has a spray hose.  Is the kashering of that faucet any different than a regular one?

A. The first step in kashering any item is to remove all residual chametz. With this in mind, Rema 451:18 rules that any utensil which has small cracks and crevices where food might get caught should not be kashered for Pesach, because of the difficulty in getting the utensil perfectly clean.  This poses a concern for many pull-out faucets, because the hose is made of a ribbed material, where bits of food can get trapped and then fall out into the Pesach food.  Accordingly, any faucet with this type of hose cannot be kashered for Pesach.

The good news is that the only concern is if the faucet is pulled out, thereby exposing the ribbed portion of the hose.  Therefore, one may use the faucet on Pesach if (a) the hose is not pulled out, and (b) the rest of the faucet is kashered in the typical manner as described in our Pesach Guide and website.

Glass Stovetop

Q. I love my glass stovetop and want to know how to kasher it for Pesach.

A. It has been suggested that the proper way to kasher a glass stovetop would be to (a) clean and leave unused it for 24 hours, (b) cover with water while the stovetop is cold until there is a sheet of water on the glass surface, (c) lay a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil over the entire stovetop loosely forming a dome-like hood, (d) put a crumbled ball of foil in the middle of the burners to support this hood, (e) turn all the burners on and wait until you see the water start bubbling, and (f) remove the tin foil to prevent potential cracking of the glass.

Unfortunately, we cannot agree to this creative suggestion because (a) it assumes hag’alah is effective on glass, when in fact at least libun kal is required, (b) it is not clear that the suggested method will actually be successful in getting boiling water on all surfaces or will just result in pockets or puddles of boiling water with other surfaces unaffected, and (c) one may not kasher if there is a fear that the process will break the utensil, as the person will be reticent to continue the kashering until completion; see Shulchan Aruch 451:1.  That is plainly the case if one covers this type of stovetop with foil and turns on the burners.

Instead, we recommend you see the Kashering the Kitchen section of the cRc Pesach Guide for our recommendation of how one should kasher (part of) a glass stovetop and use it on Pesach.


Q. Why is there a difference of halachic opinion whether granite tabletops and countertops can be kashered?

A. It is well established that stone can be kashered (see Shulchan Aruch 451:8) and one would, therefore, imagine that all Rabbis would agree that granite can be kashered. However, granite is commonly sealed with a synthetic coating to prevent staining, and there is a difference of opinion as to whether that coating can be kashered.  Some Rabbis follow the opinion that synthetic materials cannot be kashered and, therefore, rule that sealed-granite cannot be kashered.  [A subset of this group is that some Rabbis follow this strict opinion for Pesach but not when kashering from non-kosher to kosher.]  The cRc and most other hashgochos accept the lenient opinion that synthetics may be kashered; therefore, our Pesach Guide provides directions for how granite and other sealed stone surfaces can be kashered.

For more on the question of whether synthetics can be kashered, you may want to see Iggeros Moshe OC 2:92 & 3:58, Tzitz Eliezer 4:6:c, and Minchas Yitzchok 3:67.

Hag’alah – Time

Q. How long does the silverware have to stay in the boiling water of hag’alah?  How about if I’m kashering a pot?

A. The hag’alah water should be boiling before you put the silverware or pot into it, and once you put it in the kashering is “instant”. One exception is that if the item is so heavy – such as something made of cast iron – that it cools the water considerably, you should leave the item in the water until the water once again reaches a boil.

Hand Towels and Oven Mitts

Q. Do I need separate hand towels and oven mitts for Pesach?

A. Hand towels do not have to be replaced for Pesach. Rather, they should be washed on a hot cycle in the washing machine before Yom Tov.

Theoretically, the same would be effective for oven mitts, but since (a) pieces of food often adheres to the mitts, and (b) they are used in close proximity to food, the common practice is to have separate oven mitts for Pesach.

Induction Cooktop

Q. How can I kasher my induction cooktop for Pesach?

A. Induction cooktops do not have a heating coil or other heat source, and, therefore, there is no realistic way to kasher them.  The only way to use the induction cooktop on Pesach is to put a physical barrier between the cooking surface and the pots.  This can be accomplished either with “induction discs” (widely available to help people cook on an induction surface with pots that are not ferromagnetic) or a “mat” that is designed for an induction cooktop.  Although the cooktop will not have been kashered, the barrier prevents any absorbed chametz from spreading to the pots and food.

On a related note, using an induction cooktop raises significant halachic issues on Shabbos and Yom Tov, some of which might be eliminated by the use of the induction discs noted above,, and consumers should consult with their Rabbi for direction on this matter.

Iron for Kashering

Q. My son suggested we kasher our countertops by running a hot iron over them.  Would this work?

A. One cannot kasher a counter with a clothing iron without any water present. [The exact details as to why are beyond the scope of this Guide.] Theoretically, hot water could be put onto the counter and then the iron could be used to bring that water to a boil, but it would be too difficult to know if every spot came into contact with boiling water (or if, instead, the water only hit certain spots), so we would not recommend it.

Kedairah Blech

Q. Is it possible to kasher a kedairah blech for Pesach?

A. Yes, it can be kashered with hag’alah. The kedairah blech, a.k.a. the “un-blech”, has two parts – a pan and a cover. The first step is to clean the pan and the cover thoroughly, and not use them for 24 hours.  The pan should then be kashered by filling it with water and bringing that water to a rolling boil.  The top of the cover (i.e., the side which comes in contact with the pots) must be submerged into boiling water.  One possible way to do this would be by placing the cover upside down in the pan as it is filled with water, which is brought to a rolling boil (as described above).

Mouth Guard

Q. I wear a mouth guard (e.g., nocturnal bite plate) at night to keep me from grinding my teeth, and my son wears something similar when he plays ice hockey.  Can we also use them on Pesach?

A. Yes, they should be thoroughly cleaned with a brush and soap, and then you can use them on Pesach.

Ove Gloves

Q. During the year, I use “Ove Gloves” to protect my hands from hot pots and pans.  Are they like tablecloths and towels that can be washed in the washing machine and then used for Pesach?

A. Theoretically, Ove Gloves or other oven mitts can be kashered just like a tablecloth or towel, but since (a) pieces of food often adheres to the mitts, and (b) they are used in close proximity to food, the common practice is to have separate oven mitts for Pesach.

Paper Towel Dispenser

Q. I have a free-standing paper towel dispenser which is on the kitchen counter all year long.  Can I use it for Pesach?

A. Yes, just clean it thoroughly and put on a fresh roll of paper towels.

Pot Used for Kashering

Q. Is it necessary to kasher meat utensils in a meat pot, or dairy utensils in a dairy pot?

A. The only requirements for the kashering pot are that it be clean and not have been used for 24 hours. Once those requirements have been met, you may kasher any dishes in it, regardless of whether they or the pot were previously used for kosher, non-kosher, dairy, meat, chametz or Pesach.  Some have a minhag to have a designated “kashering pot” which is used for nothing else but kashering; families with this custom should continue to follow it.


Q. You say that quartz countertops can be kashered with irui kli rishon (pouring boiling water on the surface).  I was told that if I put a hot pot on the counter the heat will ruin my counter, so won’t I damage the counter by pouring boiling water on it?

A. We asked Mr. Rick Glickman, of Dream Kitchens, about this and he said that thermal shock (sudden dramatic change in temperature) can cause a quartz countertop to have fissures or even melt the epoxy.  That would happen if someone put a hot skillet right onto the counter or poked it with a hot poker.  However, boiling water (which, obviously loses its “boil” pretty quickly even though it’s just off the fire) and even steam will not have that effect and its perfectly safe to kasher with them.

He further added that quartz countertops are 93-98% quartz which is the 4th hardest substance on Earth and surely wouldn’t be affected by heat, and the only concern is the resin that makes up the final few percentages of the counter and which is more sensitive to heat.


Q. I have been told that the spits, poles, and skewers in a rotisserie oven can be kashered with libun kal from kosher meat to pareve.  If so, can I do the same when kashering from chametz to Pesach, since chametz is also kosher?

A. No. In this regard, the kashering requirement after chametz is stricter than after kosher meat, because chametz is a forbidden item (issurah), (albeit only for 8 days a year), while kosher meat it is inherently kosher/permitted (hetairah).  Accordingly, although libun kal suffices when kashering between kosher meat and pareve, a more intensive libun gamur is required to kasher the skewers from chametz use for Pesach.  [The rest of the rotisserie chamber, can be kashered with libun kal regardless of whether it was used for kosher, non-kosher, chametz or anything else.]

Sink Insert

Q. My sink is porcelain, so it cannot be kashered, and, therefore, for Pesach I will wash my dishes in a bowl-like “insert” that I put into the sink.  Does the insert have to cover all interior surfaces of the sink?

A. No, but you should be careful to ensure that Pesach food, Pesach dishes, and any hot liquid never goes into the space between the insert and the sink.


Q. Can I kasher my countertops with a steamer?

A. The general rule (as per Iggeros Moshe YD 1:60) is that one must kasher with water which is in liquid form and cannot kasher with steam. Accordingly, a steamer can only be used for kashering if two conditions are met.  First, the steam must condense to the point that the whole area being kashered is covered with water, and second, that water must be at approximately the boiling point (212°F).  Most steamers sold for cleaning purposes do not meet these criteria and cannot be used for kashering.

Urn – Kashering

Q. I have an electric urn which I use all year for heating hot water.  Do I have to kasher it before I use it for Pesach?

A. If an electric hot water urn remains on the counter during the year, it must be kashered in order to use it on Pesach. This is because during the year someone might have warmed up a challah on it or poured water directly from the urn into an oatmeal or instant noodle soup.  Even if no one remembers doing this, one must be concerned that it may have happened at some point.

In this context, Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz zt”l ruled that if it is the type of urn which is not brought to the table, is not washed with chametz items, and the family is 100% sure that they (and their children and guests) never used it for anything but heating hot water, and there was no inadvertent hot chametz contact (e.g., being accidentally splashed with chametz), it may be used for Pesach without kashering.  Most homes are not disciplined enough to reach this level of confidence and should, therefore, kasher the urn.

Warming Drawer

Q. My wife uses a warming drawer every night to keep the food warm until I come home from the office, and we would really like to kasher it for Pesach.  How should I kasher it if it cannot get hotter than 200°F?

A. Kashering a warming drawer typically requires heating it to temperatures that it is not designed to reach on its own. The simplest way to get it hot enough is to light one can of the type of canned fuel used to heat chafing dishes (e.g., Sterno cans) in the warming drawer.  Make sure to leave the door of the warming drawer slightly ajar, so that there will be enough air to allow for combustion.  One standard (2-3 hour) ethanol or methanol cans should be adequate to heat an average sized warming drawer to libun kal temperatures for about 2 hours.  [Wicked-cans that use diethylene glycol as a fuel, should not be used for kashering.]  As with all kashering, before you begin, the warming drawer must be thoroughly cleaned and not used for 24 hours.

Water Dispenser

Q. Can we use our water-cooler for Pesach?

A. If a water cooler only dispenses cold water, it can be used for Pesach after it is cleaned well on all sides (especially around the spout).

However, if it dispenses both hot and cold water, then the spout and the area around it will also need to be kashered via “irui kli rishon”.  To accomplish that you should (a) clean the entire cooler thoroughly, as noted above, (b) not use the cooler at all for 24 hours, (c) remove the carboy/container that holds the water, (d) tilt the unit onto its side, and then (e) pour boiling water over both spouts and the area surrounding them.  Once this is completed, a fresh carboy/container of water should be installed, and the dispenser can be used for Pesach.

Water Filter

Q. Do we need a separate Brita water filter for Pesach, or can we just clean the picture and put a new filter cartridge in?

A. The pitcher should be cleaned well on the inside and outside because it is used all year round at meals where chametz is served, and it would be commendable to use a new filter cartridge for Pesach. [Placing your “chametz” cartridge in water for Pesach will allow you to reuse it after Pesach.]  There is no need for a hot kashering of the pitcher.

Canola and Safflower Oils

Q. Why is it that canola oil is kitnios, but safflower oil is not?

A. Many food items potentially qualify as kitnios, but we accept the rulings of Chok Yaakov 453:9 and Iggeros Moshe (OC 3:63) that only those items used for food and considered kitnios in previous generations (when the minhag was established) are forbidden, but others are not. We do not have record of safflower oil being used for food purposes at the time of the establishment of the minhag or in subsequent generations, and, therefore, we assume it is permitted.  Others, particularly those from Eretz Yisroel, who do not accept Chok Yaakov, may hold that safflower oil is forbidden.

On the other hand, canola oil has quite a history of being used and treated as kitnios, as follows:  Rapeseed oil was (and is still) used in Europe for hundreds of years, was likely even used when the minhag was first beginning, and in a well-known teshuvah of the Maharsham 1:183 regarding oil of kitnios he assumes that raps, the German word for rapeseed, is kitnios.  Thus, we see that rapeseed was treated as kitnios even in earlier times.

Rapeseed oil was/is banned from food use in the United States due to high levels of erucic acid found in the oil.  In the 1970s, Canadian researchers bred a form of rapeseed that had low levels of erucic acid, and that oil was approved for use in the United States in the 1980s.  To differentiate this new breed of rapeseed oil they named the new breed “canola” which also showed off their civic pride for having created a “CANadian OiL”.

Thus, canola oil is really a form of rapeseed oil (and is also known by the acronym LEAR – low erucic acid rapeseed), and since rapeseed is kitnios, the canola version is also forbidden on Pesach.


Q. Someone has a chronic illness which requires her to eat cornstarch every single day.  How can she do so on Pesach without eating any chametz?

A. The general Ashkenazic custom is to refrain from eating kitnios, but that custom is waived for people who have a significant medical need. A Rabbi would sanction those people to eat kitnios but would caution them to avoid chametz.  In that context, several years ago, we contacted the OU regarding the Argo and Kingsford brands of pure cornstarch, and they informed us at the time that those products were produced without any chametz additives and suitable for use by anyone who may eat kitnios on Pesach.  It is worth verifying this information before each Pesach to make sure nothing has changed in the factory.

Dill and Coriander (Anise)

Q. I was surprised to see that the cRc shopping guide lists a few varieties of anise (caraway, cumin, coriander, dill and fennel) as kitnios.  Can you explain to me why that is the case? 

A. Rema 453:1 rules that anise and coriander are not kitnios. Some of the later Poskim (Taz 453:1 & 462:3, and Chok Yaakov 453:9) basically accept this psak but suggest that these spices be checked carefully to make sure none of the five primary grains are mixed into them.  Other Poskim (Magen Avraham 453:3) take a stricter approach and are of the opinion that one should avoid these spices, since it is so difficult to check whether grains are mixed into them.  Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz zt”l accepted the ruling of Mishnah Berurah 453:13 to follow the stricter approach.  Accordingly, these spices are listed in our shopping guide as “kitnios”, although a purist could argue that even if they are forbidden, the term “kitnios” does not apply to them.

Leaves and Tendrils

Q. While peas and beans are not allowed for Pesach, how about the leaves and tendrils of the pea plant?  There are no pods, just the tender greens from the tips of the new plant, before the pea plant flowers and the pods begin to form.

A. Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz zt”l ruled, based on Yad Yitzchok 3:92, that only the bean or seed portion of a kitnios food is forbidden, but the stalk and other plant material is permitted. Therefore, one would be permitted to eat the leaves or tendrils of a pea or bean plant on Pesach.  However, once the bean begins forming, that part of the plant is forbidden.  For example, alfalfa sprouts commonly have miniature/immature beans at the end of each sprout, and that bean portion is forbidden.  Thus, for all practical purposes one may not eat alfalfa sprouts on Pesach, because although the sprouts per se are permitted, the bean is not.

Quinoa and Amaranth

Q. Are quinoa and amaranth kitnios?

A. Quinoa and amaranth are seeds which are similar enough to wheat and barley that they theoretically would be kitnios, and in fact, some Poskim do treat them as such. However, Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz zt”l accepted Iggeros Moshe’s (OC 3:63) position that foods which were not consumed by Jews at the time the minhag of kitnios began are not forbidden on Pesach.  At the time when the minhag began (6-7 centuries ago) no Jews lived in the South American and Far Eastern countries where these grains grew, and, therefore, quinoa and amaranth are not considered kitnios and may be consumed on Pesach if one can be certain that no chametz-grains are mixed in.

This last caveat poses a particular concern for quinoa and amaranth, as these small seeds are often packaged on the same equipment as other small grains such as wheat, barley and oats, which means that they can only be used after being carefully checked that no chametz grains are mixed in.  Accordingly, we recommend that people only use quinoa which is specially certified for Pesach, which ensures that it is free of other grains.


Q. I see you consider sorghum kitnios, but yet you approved of the certified sorghum whisky.  How can it be approved if it is kitnios?

A. As with other forms of kitnios, only the “grain” or seed is forbidden, but the stalk and other plant material are permitted. Whisky is made from the sorghum stalk and, therefore, although we cannot eat sorghum grain on Pesach, we can drink sorghum-based whisky, if it is certified as kosher for Pesach.


Q. My doctor prescribed antibiotics.  Is it okay to take them on Pesach?

A. The cRc recommends all medicinal items in pill form, which includes most of the antibiotics that adults take. The same does not apply when dealing with liquid or chewable medicines, which are considered “edible”.  Since there is a chance that they contain chametz, they should only be used if they are known to be free of any concerns.

However, antibiotics are an exception that rule.  Generally, antibiotics are given to treat ailments which, if left untreated, can lead to a situation of sakanah (danger to life).  Therefore, one may consume antibiotics regardless of the ingredients used in creating them.

Chewing a Pill

Q. My grandmother has a difficult time swallowing pills.  May she chew a pill which is generally swallowed (and for which we have no information whether it contains chametz)?

A. Yes.

Coated Pills

Q. It says on your website that one can take any pill medication that is swallowed.  Does that include coated pills such as Advil?

A. Most pills which one swallows are coated with a glaze, wax, or shellac which makes the pills easier to swallow, and some of these coatings have some form of simple sugar (e.g., sucrose) mixed in to make it even more pleasant to swallow the pill. None of these ingredients pose a Pesach concern.  Occasionally a pill is coated with sweeteners which are Pesach-sensitive (e.g., sorbitol or mannitol) or which contain a flavor; such items would be listed as one of the inactive ingredients, and we would not recommend those for Pesach.  [This occurs so infrequently, that our general recommendation remains that all pills are permitted.]

An example of this issue is the Advil brand family of tablets.  The (inactive) ingredient panel of the standard Advil tablets and caplets shows that they contain pharmaceutical glaze (i.e., shellac) and sucrose, and one who swallows an Advil pill notices that they have a more pleasant/sweet taste than pills coated with a non-sweetened coating.  These do not pose a Pesach concern.  However, on rare occasion one will come across a tablet whose ingredient panel indicates that its coating contains mannitol or a flavor, and those items are not recommended.


Q. I’m scheduled for a colonoscopy on Chol HaMoed Pesach, and the doctor said I have to drink some preparatory beverage on the day before.  Is it okay to do that on Pesach?

A. It appears that the primary solutions used to flush the patient’s colon in advance of a colonoscopy are polyethylene glycol-based (e.g., GoLYTELY, NuLYTELY, MiraLAX). The ingredients used in the unflavored versions of these solutions do not pose any Pesach concern and may be consumed on Pesach.  These solutions are also available pre-flavored or with a “flavor pack” that one adds to the solution, and these are not recommended for Pesach.

If someone is unable to drink the unflavored solution, a Rabbi and doctor should be consulted as to whether one may take the flavored solution and/or reschedule the procedure for before or after Pesach.


Q. Can I use a chewable contraceptive pill such as Femcon FE?

A. Femcon FE contains ingredients which are likely kitnios or innocuous but may be chametz (maltodextrin and spearmint flavor). Since the pill is chewable it is considered “edible” and, therefore, we cannot recommend it for Pesach (even if you swallow the chewable pill), and the best choice would be to have your doctor prescribe an alternative non-chewable contraceptive.  If that poses a particular difficulty for you, you might want to discuss the issue with your Rabbi and doctor.  It is worth noting that it may be possible to avoid the issue of taking the chewable pills on Pesach by scheduling the “off” week (i.e., brown pills) for the week of Pesach.

Dental Tape

Q. Is dental tape the same as dental floss, as far as using it on Pesach?

A. Yes, as with dental floss, dental tape is acceptable to use on Pesach, whether it is or is not waxed, as long as it is not flavored.

Fever for a Child

Q. What can I give my child if they develop a fever on Pesach?

A. Each year, the cRc researches different fever-reducers and pain relievers to see which are suitable for use for Pesach. Some of the results are ready in time for inclusion in the printed cRc Pesach Guide, and some others can only be found in the cRc app, or at

You may notice that our recommendation for many of these items is that they are “possible chametz”, which means that they contain ingredients which are sensitive for Pesach but likely do not pose a Pesach concern.  You might want to consult with your Rabbi before Pesach so that he can direct as to when it is appropriate to give “possible chametz” to a sick child (or adult).

Glucose Tablets

Q. Can a diabetic use glucose tablets on Pesach?

A. Although there is a small chance that the common ingredients in glucose tablets (dextrose, ascorbic acid, citric acid, and flavors) might well be chametz, the likelihood is that they are not, and – considering the seriousness of controlling one’s diabetes – it is permitted to take them on Pesach. If one’s doctor permits them to substitute some other item (such as dried fruit or sugar cubes) for glucose tablets, and those items are known to be kosher for Pesach, it would be preferable to use that substitute.

Hand Sanitizer – Alcohol

Q. Do alcohol-based sanitizers require Pesach certification?

A. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers such as Purell, typically contain at least 62% ethyl alcohol, which may possibly be chametz. However, Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz zt”l checked a sample of hand sanitizers and said that they are as inedible as other liquid soaps and may, therefore, be used on Pesach, regardless of the source of alcohol.  [An additional factor to consider is that the alcohol used in the hand sanitizers is denatured.]


Q. My due date is Erev Pesach.  If I’m in the hospital over Pesach, is it okay if I’m connected to an intravenous?

A. If a person is in the hospital for Pesach and it is medically advised that they be attached to an intravenous line, they may agree to this.  This is because (a) it is unlikely that it contains chametz and (b) even if it did, there is halachic rationale to permit any incapacitated person to use it.


Q. Which laxatives may I use on Pesach?

A. Any laxative which comes as a pill which one swallows (as opposed to chewing) is acceptable on Pesach, as it is considered inedible. However, most laxatives are sold as powders which one mixes with water or another beverage.  These are, therefore, considered edible, such that one must have information as to whether the powder contains chametz (or non-kosher ingredients).  See the cRc Pesach Guide and website for updated information as to which laxatives are acceptable for this Pesach.


Q. Is it okay to use my regular toothpaste on Pesach?

A. There are those who take the position that toothpaste is considered inedible, since any food that tasted like toothpaste would never be served as a meal-item. This is the justification for why many Rabbis permit the use of any toothpaste (year-round) despite the possibility that the glycerin contained in the toothpaste is made from non-kosher animal fat. Others argue that toothpaste is halachically considered edible, and they are supported by the fact that people put toothpaste into their mouths every day (and that young children choose to eat it).  Some follow that position all year-round and will only use a toothpaste that is certified as kosher (or free of glycerin).

The cRc accepts the lenient approach as relates to year-round use but recommends that one be machmir for the strict opinion as relates to Pesach.   Therefore, for Pesach we recommend that one only use a toothpaste that is known to be chametz-free.

What ingredients in toothpaste might be chametz?  Just about every variety of toothpaste contains sorbitol, which is created by “hydrogenating” glucose.  Glucose can be derived from chametz, kitnios, or completely innocuous ingredients, and (although most glucose and sorbitol in the United States is not made from chametz) we cannot recommend toothpaste unless we know what the glucose is made from.  Toothpastes also commonly contain other minor ingredients which raise chametz concerns.


Q. Why does cRc not recommend Tums for Pesach, but other Rabbis do?

A. The reason for the difference in policy as to whether Tums is recommended for Pesach is a Rabbinic difference of opinion as to whether one must refrain from consuming products which contain flavors of unknown kosher and Pesach status. Some Rabbis take a lenient position since most of the flavor-contributing chemicals are not chametz, no single chemical’s taste is perceived in the final product (i.e., zeh v’zeh gorem), and the flavor is used in tiny proportions.  Other Rabbis disagree based on halachic and factual grounds which are beyond the scope of this document.  The cRc follows the latter, stricter approach to this question.

The Rabbi who certifies Tums as kosher reports that that he is unable to determine whether the flavorings used in Tums are acceptable for Pesach.  Therefore, the cRc is unable to recommend them.  Others who list certain Tums products as acceptable for Pesach are aware of this but accept the lenient approach outlined above, which rules that flavors of unknown status do not compromise the Pesach status of the Tums.  It is noteworthy that there is corn starch in every variety of Tums which we looked at, which means that even according to the lenient approach Tums should only be consumed by those who are either Sephardic or ill and permitted to eat kitnios.

Certified Bread on Pesach

Q. Why do I see fresh-baked bread with a cRc in the supermarket on Pesach?

A. Chametz owned by a Jew on Pesach is not kosher and would not be certified as kosher by the cRc or any other reputable hechsher. Why then might you see freshly baked bread with a cRc in the supermarket on Pesach? There are three possibilities:

    • The bakery which manufactures the bread is owned by non-Jews.
    • The bakery is owned by Jews year-round, but is sold in its entirety to non-Jews for Pesach. To avoid such sales from being absolute shams, most hashgochos will only allow this if special conditions are included in the sale (e.g., the non-Jew is actually paid the profits the bakery earns over Pesach).
    • The bread was sold to the supermarket before Pesach, and they froze or otherwise stored the bread for sale on Pesach.

Special attention should be paid to the possibility that a bakery is usually kosher-certified but is owned by a Jew and manufactured the bread on Pesach, and the company agreed to leave the cRc symbol off the packaging for the duration of Pesach.  In such cases, the hechsher does not actually appear on the label, and a Rabbi verifies that the company complies with its agreement.  After Pesach consumers should be careful to purchase only those packages which bear the kosher symbol.

Coated Pills – Kept Over Pesach

Q: Over Pesach I neglected to stow away some flavored Walgreens brand acetaminophen caplets with Cool Ice flavored coating along with the chametz that my family sold. After the chag, I found these pills and was concerned that they might have the issue of chametz she’avar alav haPesach. The cRc Pesach Guide is already off the website, so I couldn’t check about whether the concern with these coatings was chametz or kitnios. In any case, I now wonder if I have to be worried about the acetaminophen, and if so then how I should proceed from here. I should mention that I did not actually see the chametz on Pesach and that we sold all of the chametz at our address rather than specifying certain cabinets or closets.

A: Although, as you seem to be aware, we wouldn’t recommend that you use that medicine on Pesach, if you forgot to sell it with the chametz you may feel free to use it after Pesach as the likelihood is that there is no chametz in it which isn’t batel. The fact that you sold the “whole house” instead of specific cabinets makes the answer even more straightforward.

Contact Lens Solution

Q. Do I need special contact lens solution for Pesach?

A. We reviewed the ingredients used in several popular brands of contact lens solution and did not see anything which was sensitive for Pesach. But we did not get to see every single product, so to be sure yours is acceptable, please send a copy of the ingredient panel to [email protected] so one of our Rabbis can evaluate your specific product.

Disposable Gloves

Q. Is there anything wrong with using disposable gloves on Pesach?

A. Disposable gloves do not pose an inherent issue for Pesach, but some are coated with a powder to prevent the gloves from sticking. The powder is likely made from kitnios or an innocuous material, but it is possible that it will be chametz.  For example, a company recently began marketing disposable gloves which are dusted with colloidal oatmeal to help hydrate the skin they come in contact with.  Accordingly, we recommend that people only use powder-free gloves, or ones that are otherwise known to be free of concern.

Ethanol as Fuel

Q. If ethanol can be made from chametz and one is not allowed to own or benefit from chametz, does that mean that I should not use ethanol to fuel my car on Pesach?

A. You may use ethanol to fuel a car because:

    • In the United States, the overwhelming majority of that type of ethanol is produced from corn, which is kitnios (and one is permitted to own and benefit from kitnios on Pesach).
    • In the United States, ethanol is rarely used as a fuel in a pure state. Rather, it is mixed with 15-90% gasoline, and the gasoline mixed in renders the fuel completely inedible (נפסל מאכילת כלב) such that it is permissible to own and benefit from it on Pesach.

Mechiras Chametz

Q. How can one sell liquor and prescription medicines to a non-Jew as part of mechiras chametz, if the Illinois law is that the sale of those items requires a special license?

A. The Poskim understand that local governments do not restrict small private sales of this sort, especially if they are done for religious purposes.

Real Chametz

Q. My family’s custom is that before Pesach we eat or destroy all “real” chametz and only perform mechiras chametz for items which are probably not chametz anyhow. How should I know what is “real” chametz?  Specifically, can we sell flour and oatmeal?

A. We recommend you read the article, “Which Foods are Chametz” in the cRc Pesach Guide. Briefly, you will see there that bread, pasta, pretzels, beer, whisky, and many breakfast cereals are unquestionably true chametz, others such as flour, oatmeal, and non-Pesach matzah, are safek (possibly) chametz, while many others such as yeast, vinegar, vitamins, and flavors could be chametz but in the United States are likely just kitnios.

Salt in a Pesach Project

Q. A teacher wanted to know what to do since she accidentally iodized salt into the kids’ haggados. Should she tear out the page since iodized salt needs hashgachah for Pesach?

A. There are a few reasons why there is no need to worry: Firstly, even if the glue doesn’t render the salt inedible, this case may qualify as “יחדו לישיבה” (yichdo l’yeshiva), a halacha which states that under specific situations, there is no prohibition to own chametz which is designated for non-food use, even if the chametz remains edible.  For more on those halachos, see Shulchan Aruch 442:9.  In addition, the iodine in salt is not inherently chametz but rather is not used for Pesach (without special Pesach certification), because it is typically mixed with starch which may be chametz.  The starch is surely batel b’shishim into the salt, and, therefore, l’chatchilah we would not eat iodized salt on Pesach without special certification, but there’s nothing wrong with owning such a product.


Kitnios for Pets

Q. Why is one permitted to serve kitnios to a pet on Pesach?

A. Ashkenazim have a custom to not eat kitnios but are permitted to own and benefit from kitnios.  (Rema 453:1 and Mishnah Berurah 453:10)  Therefore, they can serve kitnios to pets, and must only make sure that there is no chametz in the feed.

Mealworms for Pets

Q. Can I feed mealworms to my pet gecko on Pesach?

A. Mealworms are living creatures which are not chametz and can be fed to geckos as-is. However, they are commonly sold in a bed of wheat flakes or oatmeal, which are chametz and may not be owned or used on Pesach.  Accordingly, it is typically not realistic to use mealworms on Pesach.  [Some have had success feeding crickets to their geckos for Pesach.]

Pet Food

Q. The pet foods recommended in the cRc Pesach Guide are not available where I live.  What do we need to do to be able to use other brands on Pesach?  Can we check the ingredients and just be sure to purchase before Pesach?

A. On Pesach, a Jewish person may not eat, own, or derive benefit from chametz which is fit for human or canine consumption, and owning chametz pet food to feed to an animal (even if the animal belongs to someone else or is ownerless) is a violation of the latter two of those restrictions. Ashkenazic Jews have a custom to not eat kitnios, but they may own and derive benefit from them (Rema 453:1 and Mishnah Berurah 453:10).  When the cRc “certifies” pet food for Pesach, it means that we visit the factory to determine which formulas are chametz-free, which relieves the consumer of that responsibility.  However, if no certified pet food is available, you will have to carefully read the ingredient panel so as to determine if the product contains any chametz (and many pet foods, in fact, do).  The following are some pointers when reading the ingredient panel:

  1. In addition to checking for the five chametz grains – wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt – you should also be on the lookout for brewer’s yeast (a common flavoring agent, which is chametz), grain distillers dried yeast (likely chametz), malt (a barley-based sweetener), pasta, xanthan gum (a thickener which may be fermented from chametz) and other generic words which may refer to a chametz ingredient (e.g. flour, gluten, middlings, starch).
  2. Many varieties of animal feed contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals and amino acids some of which may well be chametz and there is no realistic way for a consumer to determine which of them are problematic.  However, the good news is that vitamins comprise such a small percentage of the animal food that the vitamins are batel.  Therefore, it is generally accepted that if the animal food was created before Pesach, it may be used on Pesach.

This is true for ingredients clearly identifiable as “vitamins”, such as Vitamin D3, and is also true for the following is a limited list of “vitamins”: ascorbic acid, beta carotene, biotin, d-pantothenic acid, folic acid, menadione, niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamine.

    3. Some common ingredients used in pet food which do not pose a Pesach concern are:

a. Meat, poultry, and fish products.

b. Vegetables, such as alfalfa, asparagus, beets, and carrots.

c. Assorted kitnios foods, such as buckwheat, corn products, lentils, millet, peas, rice, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and soy products.

d. Other items such as barley grass, BHA, BHT, carrageenan, cellulose, colors, eggs, gums (other than xanthan gum), kelp, lactose, linseed, milk products, molasses, oils, psyllium, and whey.

By no means do these pointers cover all the ingredients used in pet food, and you might want to be in touch with a kashrus professional if you are unsure about any of the other ingredients in a given pet food.

It is also worth noting that one is also forbidden from feeding basar b’chalav (a mixture of milk and meat) to an animal, at any point during the year.  cRc-approved pet foods do not contain basar b’chalav, and if you are unable to obtain those pet foods you might want to consult with a Rabbi who can help you choose an appropriate pet food for year-round use.

Hand Sanitizer – Use

Q. May I use hand sanitizer on Shabbos and Yom Tov?

A. Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz zt”l said that using a hand sanitizer such as Purell on Shabbos and Yom Tov is no different than using liquid soap; Iggeros Moshe (OC 1:113) holds that this is not permissible, but many Poskim (e.g., Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchaso 14:16) are of the opinion that it is permitted. Rav Schwartz accepted this latter approach.

Urns – Yom Tov

Q. Can I put cold water into my electric urn on Yom Tov?

A. On Yom Tov it is permitted to cook food; therefore, one may put a kettle onto the fire on Yom Tov to heat up water. But it is forbidden to start a new fire or an electrical device, and, therefore, one may not light a new fire.  What about putting cold water into an electric urn that is already plugged in and running?  Is that like putting a kettle filled with water onto the fire?

It turns out that most urns (and pump pots) operate with a thermostat which turns the urn’s electric coil on and off depending on how hot the water in the urn is.  Most of the time, the coil is off, and only when the water temperature drops a few degrees does the coil go on.  That is exactly what happens when water from the tap is added to the urn.  The ambient temperature water cools off the water already in the urn, and the thermostat senses this and turns on the urn’s electric coil to heat up the water.

Thus, although the person is adding water to an urn which is plugged in and “on”, in truth, when he adds water he is directly causing the coil to ignite and get hot.  After considering different aspects of this issue, Rav Yona Reiss ruled that one may not do this on Yom Tov.

To address this issue, there are companies that market urns to the Jewish community, claiming that theirs are designed in a manner that allows the addition of cold water on Yom Tov.  In our investigations of these claims, we found that some had merit and were ingenuously designed to avoid concern, but others were not as effective even if they had special “Shabbos/Yom Tov modes”.  For most consumers, it is too difficult to test their urn to determine which category their urn fits into, and we, therefore, recommend that they only add water which was already heated in a pot or urn that they placed onto an existing flame.

Diabetes – Seder

Q. As a diabetic, I am concerned about how to manage my insulin and eating at the Seder when I will be consuming large quantities of carbs, such as wine and matzah.  Do you have any suggestions?

A. An excellent and thorough guide for how diabetics should manage their insulin and eating at the Seder has been written by Rabbi Hirsch Meisels of the “Friends with Diabetes” website. has an English version of the guide, and that website also has other resources for Jewish diabetics.  We have not reviewed the medical and halachic advice provided by those guides, and recommend you discuss the details with your doctor and Rabbi.

See also the Dietary Needs article in the Pesach section of our website which discusses many issues relevant to diabetics and others with special dietary needs.

Hydroponically-Grown Lettuce

Q: What bracha should I recite on hydroponically grown produce? May I use hydroponically grown romaine lettuce at the Seder?
A: The considerable discussion in the Poskim regarding the bracha on hydroponically grown produce is beyond the scope of this column, but here are some highlights:

Some (Chayei Adam 51:17 & Nishmas Adam 152:1, Yechaveh Da’as 6:12, and Machzeh Eliyahu 25-29) hold that the bracha is shehakol because the wording of the brachaBoruch…who creates the fruit of the earth” (borei pri ha’adamah) is inappropriate for items that grow unattached to the firmament or that grow in a non-earthlike media (e.g. water, coconut coir). Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, zt”l ruled that one should follow this opinion.

Others argue that the bracha of borei pri ha’adamah was instituted for all vegetables regardless of exactly how they grew. This is the opinion of Chazon Ish, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Vezos HaBracha, Birur Halacha #24), Shevet HaLevi (1:205), Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 2:149, and Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky (Kovetz Halachos, Pesach 24:6).

The use of hydroponically-grown romaine lettuce at the Seder is much more straightforward, as Chazon Ish (Kilayim 13:16) conclusively proves from Gemara, Pesachim 35b that wheat that grew unattached to the ground (e.g. in a flowerpot) may be used for matzah at the Seder. Since many of the requirements for marror, including that it must be produce of the “land”, are derived from the halachos of matzah (see Gemara, Pesachim 39a) it follows that hydroponically-grown marror may surely be used at the Seder.

Oat Matzah

Q. When eating oat matzos, is there any difference in regard to how much one must eat or is the shiur the same as with wheat matzos?

A. In theory, the amount (shiur) of hand oat matzah one must eat at the Seder is the same as for hand matzos made of wheat, whole wheat, spelt, or any of the other grains suitable for matzah. However, it is worth noting that the shiur of matzah given in the cRc Pesach Guide is based on Kol Dodi Hagadah, which assumes the person is using hand matzos of average thickness.  If one were to use matzos that were noticeably thinner than the average (e.g., Chareidim brand hand matzos), they would be required to eat a larger piece of matzah than the shiur given in our guide, and if the matzah was noticeably thicker than average, they could eat less.

Past experience has shown that handmade oat matzos tend to be considerably thicker than other handmade matzos, and accordingly it would suffice if you ate somewhat less than the shiur given in the cRc Pesach Guide.  An exact determination of how much you should eat, would require someone measuring the thickness of your matzos and making the necessary calculation.