Some Rules about Inedible Chometz

Chometz Food that Became Inedible

  1. Inedible for humans. If chometz food that was fit for human consumption became inedible for humans before the time chometz becomes assur, but it is still edible for dogs, there is a chiyuv d’oraisa to get rid of it before Pesach just like regular chometz. This is because such chometz can still ferment other doughs (ר”ן י”ג ע”ב בדפי הרי”ף, מ”ב סי’ תמ”ב סק”י). If one eats it, he does not get kareis or malkus since it is not normal to eat it, but it is still assur d’rabanan to eat it (צל”ח ביצה דף ב’ ע”א ד”ה ואמנם).
  2. Inedible for dogs. Chometz food that was edible for humans but became inedible even for dogs before the time chometz becomes assur may be kept on Pesach (שו”ע סי’ תמ”ב ס”ט); it is like dirt (מ”ב סק”י). One may also derive benefit from it on Pesach. There is still an issur d’rabanan to eat it though. Even though it is not edible, if a person wants to eat it, he gives it value and demonstrates that for him, it is not inedible (מ”ב סקמ”ג). This is referred to as achshevei.

Became Inedible in a Mixture

  • The poskim explain that something is considered inedible for dogs even if the chometz ingredient was edible for dogs but was mixed with other ingredients that contaminated it. As long as the final product is inedible for dogs, the item is considered inedible.
  • Some are more meikel regarding mixtures, only requiring them to be inedible for humans. Even if a chometz mixture is edible for dogs, when other ingredients are mixed in, it cannot ferment other doughs (חזו”א או”ח סי’ קט”ז סק”ח). Others argue.
  • Partially ruined. Some chometz, e.g., alcohol, is ruined somewhat with certain additives, becoming inedible for dogs. This is done with certain types of alcohol meant to be used as fuel or disinfectant: sometimes a bitter or poisonous substance is added to prevent people from ingesting it. Nevertheless, coarse individuals who are thirsty for some hard stuff will drink such alcohol given no other choice. Sometimes a sweet ingredient can be added to make it drinkable. The poskim discuss whether or not such alcohol is considered chometz. Many poskim are machmir since it is drinkable with difficulty for a small number of people (אור שמח ח”ב סי’ נ”ה, אג”מ או”ח ח”ג סי’ ס”ב, מקראי קודש ח”א סי’ נ”ד, הגר”א קוטלר).
  • Possible to separate the chometz. The poskim also discuss a case wherein chometz is ruined with foul additives but can be easily seperated. Is the product considered inedible while the ingredients are still mixed?
  • Some are machmir since the chometz can be isolated (שו”ת דברי מלכיאל ח”ד סי’ כ”ב, כ”ד). It is likely that they were only machmir if it is common to isolate it and the average person can do so. If it can only be isolated in a lab and it is not common to do so, it is not considered edible (שו”ת חזון נחום ח”א סי’ מ”ו, בית דוד פ”ז הע’ 6).


  • Strictly speaking, chometz that was edible but became inedible even for dogs is like dirt and may be eaten. However, the poskim say it is assur d’rabanan to do so since one who eats it gives it value and wants to eat it; thus, it is not inedible to him.
  • Only when eaten intentionally. The Acharonim write that the concept of achshevei only applies when one eats the chometz intentionally, thereby giving it value. If it fell into something else and became botul b’rov, the mixture may be eaten since the eater only intends to eat the mutar food; just in doing so, he also eats the bad chometz. Achshevei does not apply to this (חק יעקב סי’ תמ”ב סקי”ט, מ”ב שם סקמ”ג).
  • Chometz ink. Therefore, one may write with ink containing barley alcohol (שו”ע סי’ תמ”ב ס”י) since the other bitter components mixed in certainly make the alcohol so foul that it is inedible (מ”ב סקמ”ד). We are not afraid one will put his pen in his mouth without thinking, as sofrim often do, since even if he does so, his intent is not to drink the ink. If so, there is no problem of achshevei (תרומת הדשן קכ”ט). [See below (25) regarding toothpaste and mouthwash.]

Chometz Nuksheh

  1. Chometz nuksheh is an item that was never fully chometz and was not made to be eaten, e.g. , chometz that was never more than somewhat edible, such as glue made from flour and water used by sofrim to attach papers that does not have the proper consistency for fermentation (מ”ב סי’ תמ”ב סק”ב, חזו”א או”ח סי’ קט”ז סק”ד); dough that did not fully ferment, e.g., its surface did not whiten (שו”ע סי’ תנ”ט ס”ב); or inedible women’s cosmetics (שער הציון סי’ תמ”ב סקי”ב).
  2. Issur to eat. There is a machlokes Tanna’im whether it is assur d’oraisa or d’rabanan to eat chometz nuksheh (גמ’ פסחים דף מ”ב ע”א). Some poskim hold it is assur d’oraisa (טור ריש סי’ תמ”ב), but the consensus of most and the implication of the Shulchan Aruch is that it is only assur d’rabanan (מג”א סי’ תמ”ב סק”א).
  3. Issur to keep it. The consensus of most poskim is that one does not violate בל יראה ובל ימצא with chometz nuksheh, but there is still a d’rabanan obligation to get rid of it or sell it to a non-Jew before Pesach (שו”ע תמז סי”ב, מ”ב תמב סק”ב) lest one eat it on Pesach (מ”ב שם סק”ה).
  4. Edible with difficulty. Since chometz nuksheh was never fully edible, it does not need to be inedible for dogs; it is not like true chometz that became inedible (above, 2), which needs to be inedible for dogs (מ”ב שם). To have the status of chometz nuksheh, it must also be edible albeit with difficulty; why would one need to get rid of it out of fear he will eat it (above, 13) if it is completely inedible and cannot ferment other doughs (מג”א שם, חזו”א שם)?

Smearing is Like Drinking”

Yom Kippur

  1. Chazal inform us with respect to Yom Kippur that “סיכה כשתיה” –smearing is like drinking. I.e., just as one may not drink on Yom Kippur, one may not smear oil on his body on Yom Kippur (יומא דף ע”ו ע”ב). This is a d’rabanan halachah (תוס’ נדה דף ל”ב ע”א ד”ה וכשמן).

Other Issurim

  1. Smearing cheilev or pig fat. The poskim argue about other issurim – may one smear things forbidden to eat, e.g., cheilev or pig fat, on his body? Strictly speaking it is mutar, as we only say smearing is like drinking for Yom Kippur, terumah, and issurei hana’ah (תוס’ יומא ע”ז: ד”ה דתנן); many poskim go with this (ט”ז יו”ד קיז סק”ד). However, some poskim are machmir and say it is assur (א”ח הובא בב”י שם). Some only permit it in a situation of discomfort (או”ה סוף כלל ל”ט); some permit it even without discomfort (ש”ך בנקודת הכסף שם). It is certainly mutar if the item is inedible (ש”ך בנקוה”כ שם), and this is the widespread minhag (מנחת יעקב בסולת למנחה כלל ל”ה דין י”ג).
  2. Soap with a forbidden ingredient. Based on all the above, the poskim discuss whether one may use soap made from assur fats. Some are machmir on a d’rabanan level (ביאור הגר”א הובא בביאה”ל סי’ שכ”ו ס”י ד”ה בשאר), but most poskim say it is mutar (ערוך השלחן סקכ”ט, יד אפרים שם, כף החיים סקי”ד). With the exception of particularly meticulous people, the general minhag is to be meikel (ביאה”ל שם).
  3. Soaps today. Some poskim add that the Gra was only machmir to treat ‘smearing as drinking’ for soaps made of cheilev that are somewhat edible. The rule that smearing is like drinking does not apply to modern-day soaps, which are completely inedible, as even if one would drink soap, he would not violate the issur of chometz, and smearing cannot be stricter than drinking (חזו”א דמאי סי’ ט”ו סק”א, בית דוד פסח פ”ז הע’ 6).

Achshevei with Smearing

  1. The poskim also discuss whether the principle of achshevei applies to smearing. We wrote that one may not eat chometz even if it is inedible for dogs due to the principle of achshevei (above, 8). Does the same apply when smearing a substance inedible for dogs on the body, i.e., since the person using it gives it value, it is assur, and the halachic comparison between smearing and drinking is absolute (משמעות אג”מ או”ח ח”ג סי’ ס”ב כשאינה לרפואה)? Or perhaps achshevei only applies to eating, not to smearing, in which case it would be mutar to smear a substance containing chometz that is foul-tasting and completely inedible.
  2. The consensus of many poskim is that the comparison between smearing and drinking only concerns the manner of consumption. But if a forbidden food is inedible, there is no issur to smear it on the body, and also, the principle of achshevei does not apply to smearing (פר”ח שם, מרן הגרי”ז הלוי, מכתבים, ומכתבים למס’ יומא).

Many Types of Products Contain Chometz


  • Strictly speaking. Medicines and pills are usually bitter or tasteless. Even if they contain some chometz, one may take them for medicinal purposes on Pesach as long as they were made beforehand since they are considered inedible for dogs (above, 2). Although one may not eat something even if it is inedible for dogs due to the principle of achshevei (above, 8), the consensus of the poskim is that achshevei only applies when eating for enjoyment. Swallowing something as a medicine is not considered eating to activate the halachah of achshevei (יד יהודה סי’ ק”ג סק”ח, שו”ת כתב סופר או”ח סוף סי’ קי”א אג”מ או”ח ח”ב סי’ צ”ב, חזו”א ארחות רבינו ח”ב עמ’ כ”ו, הגרשז”א, מנחת שלמה תניינא סי’ ס”ג).
  • Chumra of Pesach. Still, some kashrus agencies invest much energy consulting with scientists and pharmacists to get information on all sorts of medicines to determine whether they contain chometz. They do this to be machmir as much as possible on Pesach, and it is praiseworthy. Thus, if one can easily find a kosher-for-Pesach substitute for a medicine, that is preferable. But certainly, if a person must take a chometz-containing, flavorless medicine, he has poskim to rely on to swallow it in the normal manner even if his condition is not dangerous (חוט שני פ”ז סק”א).
  • Medicinal cream. Medicinal cream that contains chometz may be used l’chatchilah; we are not machmir at all because it is inedible for dogs and because the issur of smearing and the principle of achshevei do not apply to medicines (above, 21). Even if a bit might accidentally get into the mouth or transfer from one’s hands to food, there is no issur because there is no intent to eat it (above, 9).
  • Chewable pills, capsules. Obviously, various flavored medicines that are dissolved or chewed, as well as sweet, liquid medicines must be kosher for Pesach since they are edible. If they contain chometz, they are assur and must be gotten rid of or sold to a non-Jew before Pesach.

Toothpaste, Mouthwash

  • Some say that strictly speaking, one may use harsh-tasting toothpaste or mouthwash containing chometz that is inedible for dogs. A person’s intent is to rinse the mouth with it and spit it out right away, not to eat it. As we mentioned above, achshevei does not apply to an action that is not called eating, like ink on a sofer’s quill (above, 10) (ועי’ מש”כ מו”ר בשו”ת קנה בשם ח”א סי’ כ”ה, שו”ת אור לציון ח”ג פ”ח תשובה ו’).
  • Chumra of Pesach. Still, since there are kosher-for-Pesach options for these products, it is better to use those in order to do things in the best way possible.

Cleaning Solutions

  • Before Pesach. When cleaning the house before Pesach, e.g., kitchen surfaces, fridges, freezers, closets, tables, and the like, one may l’chatchilah use solutions that are not kosher for Pesach. Even if they contain chometz, they are inedible for dogs; as such, there are no potential issues of issur.
  • On Pesach. However, although strictly speaking they may also be used on Pesach, some are machmir to only use kosher-for-Pesach cleaning solutions in certain cases on Pesach, as will be explained.
  • Dish soap. Strictly speaking, dish soap does not need to be kosher for Pesach since it is inedible for dogs. Even if some residue would remain on a dish and get ingested along with the food, there is no issur of eating it since achshevei only applies when one intends to eat something (above, 9) whereas here, there was no intention of eating whatsoever (שו”ת מחזה אליהו ח”א סי’ נ”ב).
  • Still, since soap residue on the dishes sometimes comes in contact with food and goes into the mouth, people are generally more machmir in this area and only use kosher-for-Pesach dish soap. The same is true for dishwasher detergent pods and silver polish.
  • Floor cleaner. Floor cleaner, bleach, and other things that do not come in contact with food or surfaces used for food do not need to be kosher for Pesach.

Personal Care Products, Cosmetics

  • Body wash. Body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and the like, may be used even if they contain chometz since they are inedible for dogs (above, 2); these things are certainly mutar, as the chometz ingredients cannot be isolated (7). Even if we are machmir to treat smearing like drinking for all issurim (16), we are not machmir for inedible items (18). We also do not apply achshevei in this case (9). Additionally, some point out that it is only considered smearing when the goal is for the substance to be absorbed into the skin. Body wash, which is rinsed off after use, is not even considered smearing. Still, it is possible to get kosher-for-Pesach body wash.
  • Women’s cosmetics. Women’s makeup is inedible for dogs. Thus, strictly speaking a woman may keep her makeup on Pesach. Using it is not a problem of smearing a chometz product since it is inedible for dogs. [For the commenters: this is not an endorsement or encouragement from us for of the use of makeup; it is merely an applicable Pesach halachah for those who anyway use makeup…]
  • Lipstick. Since lipstick is applied to the lips and can easily enter the mouth, many are careful to only use lipstick appearing on lists of products without any chometz issues. If a woman uses a type of lipstick during the year that does not contain chometz and wants to continue using the same stick on Pesach, it is best to slice off the top layer of the material with a plastic knife before Pesach.
  • Perfume. Perfume is generally alcohol-based. It is nearly universal practice to not use grain alcohol – chometz – since it is more expensive than other types of alcohol. Nevertheless, on occasion, chometz-derived alcohol is used, but the perfume in its current state is inedible for dogs due to chemical additives that ruin the flavor. Therefore, strictly speaking one can be meikel to treat it as non-chometz. Today, even a coarse person will not drink perfume for alcohol (above, 5). Still, due to the chumra of Pesach, some people only use perfumes appearing on a kashrus agency’s list of products assumed to be kosher for Pesach.
  • Deodorant. Chometz alcohol is not used in deodorant so deodorant may be used on Pesach.

Including These Products in Chometz Sale

  • Even if one is machmir and does not use these products on Pesach, the minhag is to include them in the chometz sale to a non-Jew to avoid any hint or possibility of chometz. Even those who usually do not sell actual chometz (Issue 215, par. 17) can rely on the meikel poskim and include these products in their sale to a non-Jew.

Zerachya Shicker is the translator for the English version of חוקי חיים. The Chukai Chaim is a halacha sheet in a league of its own. Started in August 2016 (Av 5776), the Chukai Chaim currently has a readership in the tens of thousands across the globe.

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