One of the many preparations one must make for Pesach is kashering (a process to prepare a non-kosher vessel for kosher use or a chametz vessel for use on Pesach). Most people only kasher their utensils in preparation for Pesach; however, the following directions apply to kashering utensils year round as well. As with all areas of halachah, those who are unsure of how to apply the rules of kashering to their situation should consult with their local Orthodox rabbi.
There are two steps in kashering. 1. Cleaning—removing all tangible traces of chametz and 2. Purging— using heat to remove all absorbed chametz flavor.
All chametz utensils that will be used for Pesach must be thoroughly cleaned. This includes the removal of all food, rust, dirt, calcium deposits and anything else that protrudes; this does not include the removal of discolorations. Items that contain narrow cracks, crevices, deep scratches or other areas that cannot easily be cleaned, cannot be kashered for Pesach. Therefore, the following cannot be kashered:
Additionally, the common custom is to cover tables, counters, refrigerator shelves and other areas where one might not have been able to clean away every trace of chametz.
In addition to cleaning utensils, most items require some form of hot purging in order to remove the flavor that has been absorbed. As a rule, any utensil that came in contact with hot food, was washed with hot water or was used to store liquids requires purging. A comprehensive analysis regarding when purging is required and how one determines which form of purging is effective is beyond the scope of this article. I will describe the standard method of purging flavor from the most common items. Utensils made from the following materials cannot be kashered:
As a rule, materials such as fabric, metal, wood, rubber and stone (for example, granite and marble) can be kashered. It is not practical to kasher the following items since they require libun gamur (an intense form of kashering usually requiring a blowtorch).
All methods of kashering noted in this section presuppose that the equipment was thoroughly cleaned, as described above.
Small items are kashered with hagalah, which involves:
Kashering a Self-Cleaning Oven:
Kashering a Non-Self-Cleaning Oven:
If the oven has a separate broiler chamber, it should be kashered in the same manner as the oven chamber. A broiler pan that comes in direct contact with food cannot be kashered.
Note: The method of kashering described above is based on the ruling of Rav Aharon Kotler. However, Rav Moshe held that the oven must either be kashered with a blowtorch, or an insert must be placed into the oven for the duration of Pesach. Consult your rabbi for guidance.
The grates of a gas stovetop should be kashered in the oven chamber in the same manner described above. For an electric stovetop, just clean the coils and turn on high for ten minutes. If you have a glass-topped stovetop you should consult your rabbi for directions on if/how it can be used for Pesach.
For a gas or electric stove, it is preferable to replace the drip pans that are under the burners; if this isn't possible, the area should be covered with aluminum foil. The work area between the burners should be cleaned and covered with two layers of foil. The knobs and handles of the oven and stovetop should be wiped clean.
Kashering a Stainless Steel Sink:
Kashering a Porcelain Sink:
Since a porcelain sink cannot be kashered, one should kasher the faucet and knobs as outlined above and, for the duration of Pesach, place a basin (or insert) into the sink. All dishes, silverware, et cetera, should be placed and washed in the basin, and washwater can be disposed of through the sink's drain. One should be careful not to allow the sink to fill with hot water while the basin is in the sink.
Where needed, one can use a chametz microwave on Pesach by
These areas should be thoroughly cleaned—paying special attention to the edges where crumbs may get trapped— and the shelves should be lined with paper or plastic. The refrigerator and freezer will operate more efficiently if one pokes a few holes in the lining.
Any item made of fabric can be kashered by washing it in a washing machine set on "hot" and then checking to make sure that no pieces of food remain attached to it. Vinyl and plastic-lined tablecloths cannot be kashered.
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