0

I don’t know much about chemistry or alcohol, so please bear with me for a moment.

At what point does wheat- or barley-derived ethanol become Chametz? Is it naturally Chametz, or does it require a catalyst to ferment?

  • Ethanol is a byproduct of fermentation (yeast eats sugars and then excretes ethanol and CO2). If there's ethanol, then it already is fermenting. – Double AA Apr 4 '18 at 15:23
  • @DoubleAA Like I said, I know very little on the topic. If you want to post that as an answer, go right ahead. – DonielF Apr 5 '18 at 0:45
  • I understand the chemistry of a fermentation reaction but I don't understand at what point a wheat kernal sitting in a bowl of water (or wort in general) is considered halakhically leavened, which seems to be your question. But שכר המדי is right there in the Mishna, so go figure – Double AA Apr 5 '18 at 6:44
0

A quick internet search indicates that typically, at least at the industrial level, the grain is milled and mixed with water as part of the initial processing which later leads to fermentation. Once the grain touches the water, the 18-minute clock starts ticking, leading to Chametz even if there is no actual measurable fermentation or visible rising. Fermenting requires yeast (or a chemical means of transforming the starch/sugar into alcohol. But Chametz doesn't require that - it just requires grain + water + time.

  • Is this really true? The time estimate is just a way of quantifying when leavening may have occurred. It's not a magic number. For instance if you left it in cold water, it never becomes Chametz, even if 18 minutes pass (OC 457:2) and similarly in extra warm environments even less than 18 minutes is problematic (459:1). It's not about time but about leavening. 18 minutes is the Gemara's estimate for a "deaf dough": dough that isn't exhibiting classic signs of rising (cracked surface, etc.) and you don't have another dough to compare it to. – Double AA Apr 5 '18 at 6:33
  • I know there are variations from the classic "18 minutes" - in addition to temperature (I did know that made a difference, though I didn't know "in cold water it never becomes Chametz"), I know if the dough is being continuously worked it makes a difference. But that being said, I find it hard to believe that "grain mixed with water for processing" in a normal commercial process would NOT become halachic Chometz within a reasonable (perhaps temperature adjusted) amount of time. It is certainly clear that nothing extra (yeast or a chemical catalyst) is needed to become Chometz. – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Apr 5 '18 at 14:43
  • That's not clear at all. We may Lechumra avoid anything after 18 minutes but that's not the original law. Again 18 minutes is a estimate for normal dough. Dough made in a perfectly sterile environment would never rise and never be Chametz. Theoretically. – Double AA Mar 26 '19 at 23:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .