Instructions for Kashering Your Utensils for Pesach
Rabbi David Stav, Chairman, Tzohar
Rabbi Avraham Stav
This year many of us will not be able to participate in the public kashering of utensils because of the restrictions in place that limit travel out of the house. As such we will need to perform the process in our own homes and understand how to do so in the confines of our own kitchens. The guide below is designed for that purpose. As many of the processes involve heat and boiling water, the process should only be performed by adults or with very close supervision and extreme caution should be exercised to avoid burns.
Principles of Kashering
1. Which Utensils Need to be Kashered
In the context of preparing for Pesach it’s critical to remember that many utensils don’t need to kashered but cleaning is sufficient. This is true even if in “normal” years they would undergo hagala or we would buy new utensils. In general, only those pots and utensils that are used for HOT preparation or consumption and there is concern that they came into contact with Chametz need to be kashered. The understanding is that utensils used in cold food preparation or were not used for Chametz do not need to be kashered.
2. Examples of Utensils Used in ‘Cold Food’ Preparation
– Trays used only for Cold foods like Fruit Platters
– Cups that are only used for Cold drinks and have NEVER been used for hot liquids.
– Those cups which are primarily used for Cold but may sometimes be used for Hot drinks, the Ashkenazi minhag is to still kasher them.
– Cups used for alcoholic drinks- there are those who are strict and require them to be kashered.
3. Examples of Utensils That Don’t Come into Contact With Chametz
– Electric Urn Used Only for Hot Drinks
– Utensils Used Solely for Preparation of Fruits and Vegetables
– Coffee Machine (where the coffee used is kosher for Pesach all year round.)
4. What Kashering is Needed?
The halachic principle of 'כבולעו כך פולטו' establishes that the type of use during the year establishes what type of kashering is required for Pesach. According to the Shluchan Aruch, the type is dictated based on what is the most common use for the utensil and that is the minhag among Sephardim; According to the Rama, the accepted form of kashering for Ashkenazim is to respond to what was the most ‘extreme’ (less common- even a handful of times) use of the utensil
5. Different Types of Uses
Utensils that are used primarily to transfer hot liquids or are a ‘Kli Sheni’ like hot drink mugs, coasters and tea spoons, can be kashered with boiling water poured over them. The Sephardi custom is that all utensils that are largely designed for such purposes (like knives and spoons) are also kashered in this manner.
Utensils that are ‘Kli Rishon’ and are used specifically for cooking or eating hot foods (like pots and serving spoons) need to be kashered using Hagala (Direct Immersion in Boiling Water explained below) or Libun Kal (explained below).
Large pots that are used for hot food preparation require Libun Chamur whereby Sephardim go according to the most prevalent use of the utensil and Ashkenazim the most extreme. Oven racks ideally should be treated with Libun Chamur but in extenuating circumstances Libun Kal would suffice.
Regarding a skillet, there are differences of opinion; Sephardim generally say Hagala would suffice while Ashkenazim require Libun Kal.
6. Utensils Made Out of Non-Traditional Materials
The guidelines above relate the large majority of utensils that are made from traditional materials like enamel, metals, wood or plastic. However there are other materials with different rules:
– Pottery, Ceramics or Porcelain: The general custom is that they canno be kashered (if they have been used for hot foods). In extenuating circumstances one can kasher Porcelain through Hagala performed three times
– Glass- The Sephardic tradition allows one to clean the utensil while Ashkenazim are generally opposed to kashering glass. However there are opinions that allow kashering via Hagala similar to metal and there are those who require the process to be repeated three times.
How is Hagala Performed?
1. The utensil must be thoroughly cleaned and not used for 24 hours prior to the Hagala. If remnants of food cannot be easily cleaned then they should be burned off or bleach, astrong detergent or any product that will render the spot inedible should be poured on them. The handles should also be thoroughly cleaned and if possible they should be removed. If not possible an inedible material should be poured into the cracks between the handle and the utensil.
2. Take a large pot that hasn’t been used for at least 24 hours and fill it with water (and a little soap) and heat it until the water is bubbling.
3. The utensil being kashered is then inserted into the boiling water for several seconds. If possible, the utensil should immediately be rinsed off with cold water- but this is not critical.
4. If you are putting more than one utensil into the water at one time, be sure there is space between them so the water is reaching everywhere.
5. Unlike a Keylim Mikvah where the utensil has to be completely submerged, it is permitted to immerse a utensil with more than one dip where part of the utensil remains above water and then you shift it for the second (or more) dip so that everything is eventually submerged.
6. If there is a large pot that will not fit into the Hagala pot, you can kasher it by boiling water and then dropping something else hot into the water so that the water completely spills over the sides and all the inside is therefore kashered.
7. The Hagala should be done before the time where consumption of Chametz is prohibited. This year that is about 10:00 AM on Erev Pesach.
8. In the event that you forgot to kasher a utensil before this time it is permitted to do so until the start of the Chag with the understanding that the utensil hasn’t been used for at least 24 hours.
9. Sephardim allow for Hagala even during Chol Hamoed while Ashkenazim don’t. Libun is allowed during Pesach even by Ashkenazim.
How Do We Perform Libun?
Libun Kal: Any utensil which typically is kashered with Hagala can also be kashered with libun and sometimes is easier if you don’t have access to a large pot. Libun Kal is heating an object with fire to a heat that a piece of straw that was placed on the pot would get scorched. This can be done with a regular fire source whereby you ignite the utensil and wait until it starts to brown. The other option is to put the utensil in an oven and leave it there for about 20-30 minutes on 200 degree (Celsius)
Libun Chamur- This form of Libun requires heating the utensil to a very high heat so that sparks start flying off the utensil. This is a difficult – and dangerous- form to be done in ones own home.
List of Utensils and Food Prep Devices and How They Are Kashered:
– Kiddush Cups- Sephardim- Clean. Ashkenazim- Hagala
– Mugs – Used for Cold Drinks Only – Clean
– Mugs– Used for Hot Drinks: Glass- Pour boiling water over them or Hagala. Ceramic- Best not to use for Pesach.
– Sink- Clean and then pout boiling water over the whole surface
– Induction Stove- Clean well and then heat at the highest heat until it burns a paper placed on it.
– Gas Stove- Clean all the surfaces and the grates should be cleaned thoroughly with steel wool or kashered with Libun Kal. There are those who permit Hagala.
– Dishwasher- Clean thoroughly including emptying the drain. Run the longest and hottest cleaning setting with the machine empty.
– Skillet- Sephardim- Hagala. Ashkenazim – Libun Kal
– Teflon Skillet – Should not be used on Pesach
– Mixer- Clean all the parts very well and the metal and plastic elements should undergo Hagala
– Microwave- Clean well and then leave unused for 24 hours. Then take a microwave safe cup and full with water and soap. Heat at the highest setting for 5 to ten minutes until the machine fills with steam. Any pieces of plastic or glass that can be removed should undergo Hagala.
– Coffee Machine: Clean only the outside
– Gas Grill: Clean and then leave on high heat for about half an hour.
– Tablecloths: Launder
– Pots: Take off handles, clean well and Hagala
– Cutlery: Hagala. If it will only be used for transferring from one vessel to another (kli sheni) then it is enough to pour boiling water over it. (Sephardim allow only pouring boiling water even if it used as a kli rishon.)
– Shabbat Hotplate: Clean well and turn on for half an hour. (Many cover the plate with aluminum foil.)
– Shayish Countertops: Clean well and drench with boiling water.
– Baking Sheets- Baking sheets that come in direct contact with baked goods should not be used for Pesach. If there is indirect contact then Libun Kal is allowed and then the sheet should be covered in aluminum foil.
– Pyrolytic Oven- Clean well and then set on self-heat