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When I was a child, my grandfather, a"h, would specifically use whiskey (usually Slivovitz) for Havdallah. Then he would spill some of it onto a plate and douse the candle into the whiskey and watch the dancing flames burn off the alcohol.

I've seen a few people doing this same things since then. Is this a written minhag? Or is this nothing more than just "fun" for kids (and, perhaps, adults, too?)

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    Once I tried it, but since it's flammable I didn't find it that safe. BTW, slivovitz is not whiskey. – Kazi bácsi Jun 1 at 19:10
  • How much spirit did his cup hold and how much did he drink? – Avrohom Yitzchok Jun 2 at 8:08
  • @Kazibácsi I meant to use "whiskey" generically. I meant any strong alcoholic beverage. But, yes - Slivovitz is (lousy tasting) brandy. It's safe to burn it off if you put the plate in the kitchen sink or something similar. – DanF Jun 3 at 14:06
  • @AvrohomYitzchok A typical "schnapps" glass. Holds about 4 oz., maybe? He didn't drink much of it for Havdallah (that's a separate halachic problem, perhaps.) I can't say if he had more for Melava Malka. I was usually asleep by then. – DanF Jun 3 at 14:09
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    @NoachMiFrankfurt You Yekke's are very precise ;-) Fine, you are correct in that whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from rye or barley malt and bourbon, a subset of whiskey is from mainly corn mash. Inevitably, the machers in my shul educated me a bit in this area and have me try single malts. Slivovitz would be considered like soda to them. – DanF Jul 26 at 2:22
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The idea isn't to 'burn the alcohol', but to extinguish the flame in the wine (or whatever was used for the kos of Havdala).

גם נוהגין לשפוך על השלחן מן יין הנשאר בכוס אחר שתיית המבדיל ומכבין בו הנר כדי שיהא נראה לכל שלא הודלק נר זה אלא למצוה לנר של הבדלה לברך עליו (שו״ע הרב, רצו:ה בשם הלבוש)

We extinguish the candle in the spilt wine (one should allow the wine to overflow when pouring the Kos, as a siman bracha), to show that the candle was lit specifically for the mitzvah.

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