Friday, December 30, 2005

"Being Obsessive" About Olive Oil

As someone born on Chanukah, I feel a certain connection to this holiday. I have always wanted to use olive oil to light the menorah, however our simple silver menorah was designed only to hold candles. To rectify this problem, I bought small glass adapters to fit the menorah before Chanukah this year. Using olive oil for the first time made lighting the menorah particularly special.

I am still going to try to improve upon it next year since my size 1 adapters only hold enough olive oil to last for 35 to 45 minutes. I am searching for adapters that will fit my menorah and will hold enough olive oil to burn for an hour or more.

My wife thinks that I am "being obsessive" about all this olive oil and wick business. ....and maybe she is right. I am still wondering whether a size 2 or size 3 adapter will fit the menorah, and if I should use something other than simple cotton wicks. I wonder whether Soccer Dad has any advice on this since it appears that he too is an olive oil maven.


At December 30, 2005 at 9:16:00 AM EST, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

The different sized cups are so annoying. I spent $20 last year getting cups that didn't fit anyone's Menora.
They have differe kinds of wicks. I think that we stay away from the floating wicks.

There are (at least) two kinds of metal wick holders. One is a clip type device that holds the wick in place by bending the 3 metal prongs so it can rest on the cup. Then you use either string/twine and cut the string to the desired length or tear apart cotton balls and twist pieces of into wicks.
The other is this metal tube with a disc at the bottom to keep it stable in the cup. You put the wick (because of the narrowness of the tube you have to buy pre-made wicks for these things). This is what you see in the upper left hand photo.

Both work pretty well, though the latter is easier. In both these setup the wick can often be re-used a few times.
Always let your wick soak in oil so it can be saturated before you light.
Another wick is called a utility wick (I bought ~50 of these a week or two ago at Lisbon's for 5.95) has a wich that is attached to the wick. The problem is keeping the wick straight; it often does not burn all the oil though it will burn for an hour or more. Also since the wick gets consumed as the oil burns off, you can't re-use these.
I hope this is somewhat useful.
On my way into work I was wondering if taking pictures of the candles was getting hanaah from them. But if they are instructive, I guess I don't have to worry about that.

At December 30, 2005 at 9:30:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

David: Thanks for your answer! Before finding the right bulbs, I also spent $25 on a beautiful set that didn't fit! As frustrating as it was, it strengthened my resolve to find something else.

Are the wicks you are talking about the ones pictured on this site?:

Oil Supplies

At December 30, 2005 at 9:53:00 AM EST, Blogger Soccer Dad said...


is the clippy kind.


is the metal tube kind.

The latter is easier.

At December 30, 2005 at 10:00:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks again Mr. Olive Oil Maven! ;)

At December 30, 2005 at 10:33:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the metal tubes with the disc at the bottom. I am using them for the first time this year. After lighting, the wicks barely have a flame. I have tried using some oil on the wick, but still no luck. Any suggestions?

At December 30, 2005 at 10:47:00 AM EST, Blogger Akiva said...

I've used all 3, floating, clippy, and stick-up. I always preferred clippy, but they're the most time consuming to set up.

On sizes, in the past I've run in to the reverse problem, getting too large and then having the oil burn for 6 hours. While this might seem nice, I consider it necessary to keep an eye on them (especially important with young children around) and I'm unwilling to put them out even if they're burning long.

In the last few years, we've gotten in the mode of using the pre-filled oil-bulbs. These also come in a few different modes, probably the worst was the ones that you had to actually break a glass tip off (cut myself with them).

My wife picked up a set of "adapters", cone shaped rubber inserts with a larger hole on the top side. Insert the point of the cone in to the candle hole, extend up 1 inch with a larger hole in the center to insert the glass oil holder. This can be very helpful if the menorah is particularly tightly spaced and doesn't have room for but the smallest oil vessel.

At December 30, 2005 at 10:54:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Akiva: Thank you for the information as well! Why did you prefer the clippy method over the others?

At December 30, 2005 at 11:23:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Industrial strength menorah:

Glass beakers: Order a package of twelve 5 mL (milliliter) borosilicate (= Pyrex) glass beakers. The beakers are robust, reusable, generic, and easily replaceable.
One supplier is:

Menorah: Upper surface must be flat, may be made of metal, plastic, wood...
Drill blind holes in upper surface, sized to loosely hold the bases of the beakers. The hole for the shamash beaker should be shallower than for the other 8 beakers, making the shamash light taller.

Oil: Supermarkets have many "extra virgin" grade olive oils with hechsher. Add enough oil to each beaker to burn long enough halachically. You won't have to fill them to the brim.

Wicks: Floating wicks or nonfloating wicks with metal clips.

Lighting: It's easiest to light the shamash AND the 8 lights using an ordinary Hanukkah candle or a propane lighter. Lighting the 8 lights with the oil shamash gets messy.

At December 30, 2005 at 11:41:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to use glass shot-glasses lined up in a row, until my wife finally said that we must a silver one...
I find the the floating wicks dont always work well - especially if the menorah isn't level. What has worked great are these:

At December 30, 2005 at 12:25:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Anonymous: That is some menorah!

Chabakuk Elisha: Why shot-glasses?

At December 30, 2005 at 12:49:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well, it holds a good amount of oil, it's unpretentious, cost-effective, easy to find, easy to put away...

At December 30, 2005 at 2:49:00 PM EST, Blogger FrumGirl said...

I think it is commendable that you put so much effort to beautify this mitzvah... keep it up and enjoy it your way!

At December 31, 2005 at 7:35:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

FrumGirl & Jen: Thanks! I appreciate the feedback :)

At December 31, 2005 at 8:46:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Butane lighters work, too, to light the oil lamps.

At December 31, 2005 at 10:42:00 PM EST, Blogger Akiva said...

With floating wicks I've cracked the glass bulbs in the past (when they float to an edge).

Getting stand-ups that are the right size for your glasses is tricky.

The clippy's are always the right size and right fit (being 100% adjustable).

At January 1, 2006 at 3:23:00 AM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

I've had the same difficulty in finding the right size, and have a drawer full of adapters that do not fit my menorah! But they were all bought with hidur mitzvah in mind, so it is nice to look at it as a drawer full of hidur...

At January 1, 2006 at 6:45:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Anonymous: Call me old fashinoned, but I like to use a simple match.

Akiva: Interesting. I will look into using the clippy ones for next year. Thanks!

Tuesdaywishes: Very interesting. Thank you for the information.

MCAryeh: It sounds like we all have the same problem ;)

At January 1, 2006 at 11:56:00 PM EST, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Akiva, I too prefer the clippy kind. I like to feel like I'm preparing something.
Tuesdaywishes, thanks for giving the measurements. I never thought of doing that. I have one caveat about using water: when you have a porous wick the water gets absorbed and (if and) when you re-use the wick the pockets of water make the wick burn unevenly and spark a bit.
Simple, you have to remember this post for next Channukah. The comments here have been great (especially from Akiva and Tuesday wishes.)

At January 2, 2006 at 7:22:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

David: One last question...How do you clean the burn marks off the glass adapters after Chanukah? Do you use anything special?

I am going to try to find a floating wick next year since the clippy kind can be kind of tricky when you have shaky hands :)

At January 4, 2006 at 12:10:00 AM EST, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Actually the only thing I do is soak them. This year because we have enclosed silverware trays in the dishwasher, I put them in the trays (closed the lid) and ran the dishwasher. I haven't done anything special to remove the burn marks.

At December 19, 2006 at 11:19:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I linked to your article at Chanukah 2006 - The Carnival of Lights - thank you.

At December 20, 2006 at 6:25:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Bernie: Thank you!


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