4

If one is in a school environment where he/she has a chemistry lab/lab exam on Chol Hamoed Pesach that they must attend (putting the question of doing this on Chol Hamoed aside), and the lab exercise requires use of ethanol (such as in an esterification reaction, which can combine a carboxylic acid and alcohol), would it be Halachically appropriate to perform this experiment on Pesach? For the sake of this question, let us assume that we are required to use ethanol which is made from fermented grain and distilled, but still drinkable at this point.

  • 1
    I think the question "boils down" (no pun, here) to whether you own the ethanol or not. In a college lab, you probably don't own any of the chemicals, so I don't sense a problem. However, it's possible that if they give you all the chemicals before the lab and the prof. says, use these to conduct your own experiment, you may have acquired ownership. Offhand, it seems that if you have a Gentile lab partner with you, and he does the experiments, you may get around the problem. – DanF Jan 8 '18 at 16:55
  • 1
    Excellent points, but what if you pay for materials at the beginning of the course? – רבות מחשבות Jan 8 '18 at 17:10
  • If you have paid for all lab materials at the beginning of the year, then, you own all the materials already even if you don't physically have it, now. How would that be different than paying for a "pie of the month" club? Two ways you may be able to circumvent the problem - if you sell your Pesach share of the lab in advance to a Gentile (ask a rav about the technicalities of doing this) or if you had the alcohol before Pesach and in some fashion made it inedible. Of course, a simple method may be, in a college, to do the experiment before or after Pesach. – DanF Jan 8 '18 at 18:30
  • 1
    Most of the ethanol used in labs is synthetic, and so not hametz. I clearly remember, about 37 years ago, that there was a winchester of ethanol (from Frutarom) that was marked "hametz" with a stamp on the label. From this it can be understood that the manufacturer specifically indicated the status as special to distinguish it from other batches of ethanol (the vast majority). However, IF the ONLY ethanol available is marked as hametz, then at first sight there would be a prohibition to benefit from it from the Torah. (Isur hana'ah mideoraita). – Epicentre Jan 9 '18 at 5:37
  • 1
    @Epicentre you are very likely correct, but for the sake of this question, we are assuming it is chametz (as I stated above), and asking if that issur hanaah applies to this case – רבות מחשבות Jan 9 '18 at 5:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .