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Being that Play-Doh contains dough ingredients, and that one need not sell something that even a dog won't consume, may one improvise and put cyanide in their children's Play-Doh, thereby rendering it ridiculously toxic? Assume the children are smart enough not to eat it. Or will this too be subject to Mechiras Chametz?

Whatever the case, DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!!!

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    Just to be clear: I would not recommend putting cyanide or anything toxic in your children's toys. There's a reason Play-Doh is made to be non-toxic.
    – magicker72
    Mar 24 at 1:56
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    While many poskim would likely argue that cyanide-infused Play-Doh does not need to be sold to a non-Jew, the pikuach nefesh situation raised by having cyanide all over your children's hands, chas v'shalom, is far more serious
    – Josh K
    Mar 24 at 5:31
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    Better would be something like magnesium sulfate (Epson salt). It tastes bad and is a laxative, not fatal.
    – Perry Webb
    Mar 24 at 9:17
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    Come on, making something non-edible is not the same thing as making it lethal. How can you write such things on a public website? Mar 24 at 11:16
  • He's joking. He's not actually going to put cyanide in play-dough. He probably doesn't have cyanide anyways.
    – Rafael
    Mar 24 at 13:46
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See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 442:9 :

חמץ... שייחדו לישיבה וטח אותו בטיט מותר לקיימו בפסח:

Chometz which was designated to sit upon (like a chair) and is plastered over, is permissible to keep over Pesach.

The Mishna berura (442:42-44) explains that the chometz being discussed is edible chometz (As opposed to the earlier cases of burnt or spoiled chometz). He explains that although it is forbidden to eat the chometz, it is permissible to keep it and benefit from it.

He specifies that we need two conditions to be fulfilled:

  1. The chometz is designated to be like a chair.
  2. Coating it with plaster. When there is both a definitive designation, as well as an action done to the chometz, it now loses its status as "food" and becomes a regular item. The Mishnah berura discusses whether the whole surface needs to be covered or not.

There is room to equate Play-Doh to the chair and permit keeping it on Pesach, since perhaps adding coloring to the dough is like covering the chair with paint. The Beis Din Mercazi L'Dayanus rules this way.

See "The Rav Thinking Aloud" pg. 64 and note 58. There, the editor R' D. Holzer explained that Rav J.B. Soloveitchik felt Play-Doh was not edible and therefore permissible. For others who agree with this approach see here.

On the other hand, as Rav Yisrael Belsky points out, Play-Doh is technically edible. Rav Belsky rules that it is chometz and must be put away and sold for Pesach. There are numerous machmirim who rule this way as well; see here and here for some examples.

(I don't know why they don't equate it to the chometz used as a chair, as mentioned above. Perhaps they distinguishe between covering a surface, and merely coloring the whole chometz וצ"ע.)

All of this is regarding regular Play-Doh which is technically edible, if unpleasant. If you would add cyanide to the Play-Doh before Pesach, then everyone would agree that it is no longer Chometz and can be kept. It shouldn't be played with due to the danger involved.

(You would need to put the cyanide in before Pesach. Once the chometz is prohibited, spoiling it won't help- see Mishna berurah 442:40.)

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  • This would technically make a gingerbread house somewhat permissible to use during Pesach (Hansel and Gretel). Because even though the whole house is made of candy, and dough, it's designated as furniture and walls.
    – Moshe
    Mar 24 at 12:17
  • @Moshe Aren't gingerbread houses made to be eaten? (Perhaps if regular glue was used rather than frosting...)
    – Loewian
    Mar 24 at 17:39

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