Many of the stores in my neighborhood sell specially marked bottles or cans of olive oil for Chanukah.

A while ago, someone told me that I cannot use any store brand of olive oil (like Trader Joe's, Berio, etc.) I can only use the special "Chanukah" olive oil.

Offhand, I think that person is mistaken, but, I hope someone can provide a definitive source in either direction and answer:

  1. Does olive oil have to be made leshem mitzvah - specifically for the purpose of being used for lighting Chanukah candles? Or can one use any olive oil brand?
  2. The OU site states that all extra virgin olive oil is kosher even without a certification. Does the olive oil used for lighting need to be kosher? I.e., non-extra-virgin oil would need a certification if you were eating it.
  3. Related to the previous question, if the oil needs to be certified, does one specifically need to use extra virgin, or can he use any grade?
  4. May one use olive oil that had previously been used for eating such as oil left-over from a salad mixture? The oil may have spices in it as well. Does the oil for lighting need to be "clean"?

NOTE Please address only the oil issue. I know that there are numerous other kindling options.

  • 4
    You don't even need to use oil. You can use wax candles. The Rama says the custom is to use wax candles because their light is bright and clear. If so it seems unlikely there'd be that many rules regarding the grade of the olive oil.
    – Double AA
    Nov 27, 2018 at 17:59
  • They're all kosher; but I think edible olive oil doesn't stay lit so well(it flickers and has a smell). Nov 27, 2018 at 18:34
  • @chachamNisan The "jelled" oil, and pretty much all olive oil smells pretty much alike. The flickering is not that much dependent on the oil. It's based mainly on surrounding air flow. I've used "standard" olive oil and it seems to have done the same job as the gelled Chanukah oil. It's juts more time-consuming and messier to set it up using floating wicks.
    – DanF
    Nov 28, 2018 at 2:38
  • So what's the difference between regular olive oil and the one for lighting? Nov 28, 2018 at 9:16
  • @chachamNisan That's the basis of my question. I don't believe that there is any! Perhaps the gelled ones are processed with some additive. Maybe its a combo of oils? I may ask that as a separate question. Edible olive oil remains liquid at room temperature.
    – DanF
    Nov 28, 2018 at 15:41

1 Answer 1

  1. As the oil is not the object of the Mitzvah (only the light is), it does not have to be made intentionally for Chanukkah and neither the olive tree must be planted to produce the Channukah oil only.

  2. It is a Hidur to use an oil that's edible and therefore Kosher. That means not only 100% oil but also Land related Mitzvos etc.

  3. The finer is the flame, the odor, the longer it lasts - the better Hidur is the oil.

  4. It should not be used דרך בזיון - using for salad and pouring the left-overs into Chanukkiyah, but the other way around - buy it for Channukah and use the left-overs for a salad. But once again it is not מעכב.

Clarification (thnx DoubleA): All the oil that is left in the bottle can be used for salads as it was not dedicated for Channuka Mitzvah, but the oil left in the cups after the burning retains its Keddushah and must be used preferably for another Mitzvah.

  • It's forbidden to use Chanukkah leftovers for salad.
    – Double AA
    Nov 27, 2018 at 19:09
  • It depends on how you מקדיש it all.
    – Al Berko
    Nov 27, 2018 at 19:11
  • @DoubleAA The left-over oil retains kedusha? If so, does it need to be disposed in a specific way?
    – DanF
    Nov 28, 2018 at 2:34
  • @danf yes burning
    – Double AA
    Nov 28, 2018 at 3:59
  • The flame should be clear. To that end Rav Eliyashiv rules that there is a big hiddur (the best possible way) to use olive oil that is edible and is extra virgin. Other grades of oil are not necessarily kosher and might involve some serious issues - especially using treif wax or ingredients in the process, thus rendering the oil treif. I would say that it is better to use wax candles than treif oil. (see MB 673 s.k. 2, shaarei teshuva s.k. 1, Iggros Moshe chlk 1, 191)
    – user18323
    Nov 29, 2018 at 15:55

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