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Can one light Chanukah candles with ear wax? I'm not suggesting that people actually do this, as it is weird. But, I'm asking this in terms of allowable halacha.

I know that the 2nd chapter of Talmud Shabbat delves into the types of oils, waxes and wicks one mauy use for Shabbat and a bit into what may be used for Chanukah. I didn't delve into the full chapter as it is quite involved.

At any rate, AFAIK, the Talmud doesn't state anything permitting or prohibiting using ear wax for Chanukah lights. The only thing I can think of prohibiting it is that maybe it's considered "disgusting" (though, while I think it's weird, I don't find it disgusting, actually.)

To consider, perhaps - If you're concerned about lighting with "animal secretion", consider that bees wax is also animal secretion, and it is permissible.

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No, one cannot.

Mythbusters determined experimentally that earwax candles are not effective:

The skin cells, hair, fatty acids and cholesterol contained in earwax combust quickly and at different rates, which means the icky substance won't stick around long enough to keep the flame on the wick.

Given that an earwax candle won't burn, it would not be valid for Chanuka lights.

  • While it may not be possible to pull raw ear wax out of an ear and make a candle out of it, if it has appropriate elements it (I have no idea) it would theoretically be possible to refine ear wax into a usable candle, so the question stands. – Yishai Dec 3 '15 at 17:01
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    @Yishai, that's potentially a different question, for reasons other than the effectiveness of the candle. The suspected issue is something along the lines of disgust, and if that's an issue, it could well be affected by processes that abstract away the origins of the material. – Isaac Moses Dec 3 '15 at 17:04
  • Though I up-voted your answer a while ago, upon re-reading this, I'm not sure that it answers my question. The analysis assumes a quick combustion rate, not that it would fail to burn at all. If the rate is the only problem, theoretically, one could collect a large amount of ear wax to have a single candle burn for the minimal required time. Your last sentence contradicts what the quote states, also. Please clarify if it won't burn at all, or it is not "effective", which is a very different issue. – DanF Dec 20 '16 at 15:43
  • @DanF "Long enough to keep the flame on the wick" is a minimum standard for having a sustained flame at all. Piling more earwax on isn't going to help if that standard isn't met. – Isaac Moses Dec 20 '16 at 15:47
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    @DanF If you do, please report back here with your findings! 8^D – Isaac Moses Dec 20 '16 at 15:53

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