Today, new products are constantly being introduced to make the kitchen a more friendly work environment.
As a general rule, once you kasher your countertop it may be used as is and would not need to be covered. In the cases that one cannot kasher the countertop, they must be covered with a material that is not porous and will not easily rip or tear. (Some people have the custom to kasher and to also cover their counter tops).
As the laws of kashering are complex, one must see to it that a person versed in the laws of kashering will oversee the process in its entirety to ensure all the laws have been carefully followed. The cRc therefore recommends that one should always cover their counter tops unless they are sure that it was indeed properly kashered.
There are many countertop materials available in the home market today with the most common one being plastic laminate, manufactured by laminating a hard plastic material onto a thin piece of wood. Because of this process there are seams formed where the two pieces meet, creating the potential for collecting chometz in that area throughout the year.
Some other popular brands of counter tops available are Formica, Pionite, Wilsonart and Nevamar. There is a difference of opinion in Halacha whether one may kasher a material not mentioned in the Torah. Since plastic and many of the materials listed in this article are not listed in the Torah, Halachic authorities debate whether they can be kashered. Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Av Beis Din of the cRc, is of the opinion that plastic may be kashered for Pesach. However, if it is a type of plastic that might become ruined during the koshering process, then kashering is not permitted, as the Rabbis were afraid that one may not kasher properly due to fear of ruining the countertop.
There is another countertop material that is made to look like stone, but it is actually an acrylic and therefore easy to maintain. Some popular brands are Corian, Staron, Swanstone, Gibraltar, and Surrell. Avonite makes a similar polyester based product. Theoretically these may be kashered. However, this material is likely to scratch and stain. If that happens, kashering will not help, and the countertop would have to be covered.
Butcher block, or wood surfaces are becoming once again increasingly popular. In the past wood countertops, tables and cutting boards were very common. However, it was thought that because of the porous nature of wood, they were highly susceptible to bacteria contamination. Today it has been proven that the natural enzymes in wood actually kill the bacteria, and therefore wood is becoming a popular option in the kitchen. The wood used for these products is covered with an oil at the factory, usually tung oil, and should be continuously treated in the home to prevent drying. Wood may be kashered for Pesach, but one needs to be careful that there are no cracks in the wood that could trap chometz. If there are cracks, the counter would need to be covered. In a butcher shop, it was the practice to sand down the wood surface for kashering. However, this cannot be done in the home because it would ruin the surface. Some of the popular wood brands on the market are John Boos, Craftart, Spekva and Omega.
Today, natural stone such as granite, marble, limestone, soapstone, slate, and onyx are commonly found in the kitchen. While they are natural and beautiful, they are very porous and need to be treated with a water-based sealant to help keep out the bacteria and keep the stone from staining. There are also concrete counter tops available. These are exactly what as they sound – concrete tops formed to the shape of the area to be covered. All of these may be kashered for Pesach. However, one must make sure that the top is not finished with a synthetic, which itself would also need to be of a kasherable material.
Another material used for counter tops is quartz resin, a man - made material made to look like granite or marble. It is different than natural stone in that it is not porous. Therefore the surface does not need to be sealed. Some common brands are Cambria, Silestone, Zodiaq and Caesar Stone. These may be koshered for Pesach.
There are also glass, ceramic and porcelain counter tops available, with porous grout between each tile. There are also other materials used for countertops, with caulking used to hold down the counter top, or as a seam to seal two pieces together. These counter tops may not be kashered for Pesach and must be covered.
While not used as often in a home, stainless steel, copper and zinc are also available. These may all be kashered for Pesach.
Stovetops are available in various materials. The most common is a metal grate over an open flame or electric burner, which is situated on a porcelainized metal, stainless steel or glass. A metal flat top or a metal grate over an open flame is also available. This is used primarily as a grill for an “indoor BBQ”. The grates and burners may be koshered, while the tops need to be covered.
There is also a “glass” surface available. The two most popular brands are Corning and Ceran. The cRc policy is that these can be kashered by leaving all four burners on for an hour. The area between the burners should then be covered with aluminum foil. However, please check with the manufacturer, as this may cause damage to the glass on some stove tops. If this area cannot be covered, then it must be thoroughly cleaned.
There can always be unique situations which might arise in one’s own home. When in doubt, contact your local Orthodox Rabbi. Special thanks to Rick Glickman of “Dream Kitchens” for his help in our research.
|AVONITE||YES||Kasherable if no stains or scratches, otherwise must be covered|
|BUDDY RHODES||YES||If there is a synthetic finish, consult an Orthodox Rabbi|
|CHENG DESIGN||YES||If there is a synthetic finish, consult an Orthodox Rabbi|
|CORIAN||YES||Kasherable if no stains or scratches, otherwise must be covered|
|CRAFTART||YES||Kasherable if no cracks, otherwise must be covered|
|FORMICA||YES||according to cRc policy, this can be kashered|
|GIBRALTAR||YES||Kasherable if no stains or scratches, otherwise must be covered|
|JOHN BOOS||YES||Kasherable if no cracks, otherwise must be covered|
|NEVAMAR||YES||according to cRc policy, this can be kashered|
|OMEGA||YES||Kasherable if no cracks, otherwise must be covered|
|PIONITE||YES||according to cRc policy, this can be kashered|
|SPEKVA||YES||Kasherable if no cracks, otherwise must be covered|
|STARON||YES||Kasherable if no stains or scratches, otherwise must be covered|
|SURRELL||YES||Kasherable if no stains or scratches, otherwise must be covered|
|SWANSTONE||YES||Kasherable if no stains or scratches, otherwise must be covered|
|WILSONART||YES||according to cRc policy, this can be kashered|
|ACRYLIC||YES||Kasherable if no stains or scratches, otherwise must be covered|
|CERAMIC TILE||NO||These countertops must be covered for Pesach|
|CONCRETE, CEMEMT||YES||If there is a synthetic finish, consult an Orthodox Rabbi|
|GLASS TILE||NO||These countertops must be covered for Pesach|
|GRANITE||YES||If there is a synthetic finish, consult an Orthodox Rabbi|
|MARBLE||YES||If there is a synthetic finish, consult an Orthodox Rabbi|
|METALS (STAINLESS STEEL,COPPER||YES|
|PLASTIC LAMINATE||YES||according to cRc policy, this can be kashered|
|POLYESTER BASE||YES||Kasherable if no stains or scratches, otherwise must be covered|
|PORCELAIN TILE||NO||These countertops must be covered for Pesach|
|SLATE||YES||If there is a synthetic finish, consult an Orthodox Rabbi|
|SOAPSTONE||YES||If there is a synthetic finish, consult an Orthodox Rabbi|
|WOOD, BUTCHER BLOCK||YES||Kasherable if no stains or scratches, otherwise must be covered|
|METAL FLAT TOP||YES|
|GLASS TOPS||YES||According to the cRc policy, it can be kashered|
|OVEN TOPS BETWEEN BURNERS (on gas and electric)||NO||These should be covered|
|OVEN TOPS BETWEEN BURNERS (on glass tops)||SEE COMMENTS||The area should be covered unless this will damage the surface. Otherwise, it must be cleaned.|
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