Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Being Obsessive" About Olive Oil - Part II

Akiva commenting on Last Year Soccer Dad Said...

So, which kind are you using this year? (of wicks, clippy, floating, or stick up?)

Personally, my wife bought the pre-filled, plastic cover, metal top. Good burn, not to big not to small, good size, last long but not too long.

A Simple Jew answers:

This year I am trying the floating wicks. And while they burn for almost 3 hours, they burn out after only using up only half the oil. The flame is also not that large as I remember with the clippy type.

I haven't figured out why this is. Perhaps the shape of the glass holder makes a difference? (cylinder verses bulb)


What have you found that works best?


At December 17, 2006 at 12:04:00 PM EST, Blogger Akiva said...

As I said last year, I had bad experience with the floating wicks. When using thin glass blubs, especially those that are bowed out, if the wick floats up against the side it heats the glass resulting in it cracking. With your picture it seems you have thicker straight glass, probably less of a problem.

At December 17, 2006 at 2:05:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Akiva: Thanks for the advice. I just went to the store and came up with a plan for tonight and a customized solution.

I bought a package of rigid special long wicks that I am going to use in the glass holders that are pictured above. I am going to put these long wicks through the cork floaters from the floating wicks package in order to keep them straight held up straight. Since the wicks from the floating wicks packages are very small, I wonder if this is what causes the flame to go out only after using just half the oil.

Hopefully this "custom" solution will work better tonight.

At December 17, 2006 at 2:32:00 PM EST, Blogger Akiva said...

And that's why I always like the clippy's. They hold the wick at the top yet reach the full depth of oil.

The negative side is looks aren't as nice, they take more time to set up, and are a little more messing to clean up after.

For the last several years my wife has been buying the pre-filled, usually AFTER chanukah at 1/2 price, and saving them till next year (she really thinks ahead like that).

At December 17, 2006 at 3:16:00 PM EST, Anonymous A Yid said...

I make my own wicks either from cotton balls (vate) or from cotton threads. It works fine with olive oil. Glass cups (or metal whichever you use) have to be big! (45 minutes is way to little! On erev Shabes the menoyre is lit before shkiya, and it has to continue to burn at least 30 minutes after tzeys hakoychovim!).

At December 17, 2006 at 7:32:00 PM EST, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

For what it's worth,

Neronim- and Neriyot- type lights for Shabbos have the wick anchored at the bottom of the low-melting paraffin candle, where it touches the inside bottom of the glass holder. The wick stays anchored even after the paraffin melts completely.

So, for olive oil, it seems that the right solution (if you don't do clips) is to somehow anchor the bottom of the cotton wick to the inside bottom of the glass oil-holder. Maybe a small metal weight with a hole it in would work---knot one end of the wick and push the other end (which will be pointed up) through the hole. Maybe a metal button would be a good weight. Also make sure to pre-char the wick end you will light.

One thing I've noticed with the usual floating wick is that it sticks out from the bottom of the cork. That seems to cause it to flip sideways and get snuffed out when the oil gets below a certain level. At that point, any oil left under the floating wick doesn't burn.

At December 17, 2006 at 8:25:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Bob: The clerk at the store told me that your solution was indeed the best. Unfortunately he was all out of these wicks with the metal disk at the bottom.

Here is what I learned tonight. The cork anchor is on too tight to the top of the long wick and it can't go down by itself as the oil level decreases.

Tomorrow I might just use the plain rigid wick without any type of holder.

One of these days, I would like to get this system down!!

Unfortunately the pre-packaged variety are too large to fit my menorah/

At December 17, 2006 at 8:50:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Come to think of it tomorrow, I am going to try puting the round cork thing at the bottom and the long stem wick sticking up from it. I tried it out and it seems to stay down there on the bottom and keep the long stem wick centered and away from the sides.

...ah, the old days of candles. They certainly were much easier.

[Afterthought: I think from all my comments and postings that it is evident that I got C's and D's in science class.]

At December 17, 2006 at 11:03:00 PM EST, Anonymous A Yid said...

I'm using simple metal T-shape holders (upside down T). It is a tube with a disk at the bottom. The wick is placed in the tube. Works fine.

At December 17, 2006 at 11:52:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The floating wick holders do capsize themselves, I haven't used them for years.
Personally I go for the T-shape holders that A Yid mentioned. I buy cotton wicks and make them thinner by rolling them out and taking away some of the cotton -that way they burn for longer (but with a smaller light) which is must if I want to see them still burning when I come back from giving out Menorahs.

At December 18, 2006 at 4:40:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A Yid and Mottel: After my wife saw me struggling with this, she took the used metal disks from our Shabbos candels and used a tool to place the wicks into them. So, this sounds similar to what you two are using, a metal disk at the bottom with a long wick in the middle sticking up.

Thank you for commenting, I got so frustrated about this before my wife bailed me out that I was thinking of returning to candles. It reminded me of the teaching of Reb Nosson who said that a person should just seek to fulfill the mitzvah in simplicity. It is kind of ironic that A Simple Jew is doing the opposite...

At December 18, 2006 at 7:32:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At December 18, 2006 at 7:37:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

I assume that these are the kind you are using? I am using this variety of wax-coated wick [but made by Paskez] that my wife anchored into metal disks to act as weights.
FYI: these are the floating wicks that have been capsizing on me.

At December 18, 2006 at 8:48:00 AM EST, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

We're using the t-disks this year.
Last night my son's (he has much bigger bulbs than mine) lasted 4+ hours.

I miss the old days of rolling my own cotton wicks though. There was a challenge in that.

At December 18, 2006 at 12:59:00 PM EST, Anonymous A Yid said...

> A Yid and Mottel: After my wife saw me struggling with this, she took the used metal disks
> from our Shabbos candels and used a tool to place the wicks into them. So, this sounds similar
> to what you two are using, a metal disk at the bottom with a long wick in the middle sticking up.

I thing you mean another type. I use a T shaped (all metall) holder. It is a metal tube, with a metal disc on the bottom (with a hole through which the tube is put through). It stands by itself. Inside the tube you can place the wick. You meant on the other hand the type where there is only the disc with a wick (and no tube).

At December 18, 2006 at 2:09:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what I'm referring to:

At December 18, 2006 at 2:26:00 PM EST, Anonymous YaakovShalom said...

I have been playing with wicks and candles for a long time i used to test run them a couple of weeks before channukah to see which ones would last the longest and which the brightest. I have even bought every kind of premaid ones. I have found this year to my great Happiness the premaid Large OHR Light it has the perefect thick wick. I add more oil with a straw until the brim when I light it Glows a beatiful thick flame and lasts in the Large flame for about an hour and than it slowly gets smaller and smaller and lasts altogether about 4 hours.
Happy Channukah Enjoy Your Light!!

At December 18, 2006 at 2:35:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

The description of the small size says:
"The small size will fit most standard menorahs and will burn for the right amount of time or more."

I wonder if these would fit mine….hmmm...

Your idea to try test out the wicks BEFORE Chanukah is one that I should have thought of. Thanks for the feedback.

At December 19, 2006 at 11:15:00 AM EST, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Consumer alert:

This year, our son bought a type of prepackaged oil light that is not so good. Each cylindrical glass container is filled most of the way with partially solidified olive oil and uses a short floating wick.

In practice, the partially solidified olive oil does melt, but it burns too smokily from the get-go. This could be a result of the processing used to make the oil semi-solid (polymerization to increase molecular weight?) or the use of less pure oil. [Our regular menorahs burning kosher extra virgin olive oil give off a brighter, non-smoky flame.]

The box says these stay lit for 4 hours, but some go out after about 2 to 2.5 hours.

When the flame goes out, there is oil left (as with these short floating wicks in general), but it resolidifies, so you can't easily accumulate all the unburned oil in a bottle to burn after Hanukkah. This makes the lights less disposable than they should be, and wastes oil.

The moral is: if you want to use prepackaged oil lights, use a different type.

At December 19, 2006 at 11:28:00 AM EST, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

I just found the above advertised on the web as "solid oil lights", so perhaps the oil is fully solid before it's lit.

At December 19, 2006 at 9:43:00 PM EST, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

I poked this oil when I got home and it was like a soft wax.

At December 20, 2006 at 6:12:00 PM EST, Blogger Neil Harris said...

We previously used the floating corks w/ the wicks, but I often had trouble keeping them lit (especially erev Shabbos, when then need to burn for ½ an hour). Then we tried the pre-filled cups when they came out, but they can be a bit pricey. I found a rather more cost-effective solution. One year I KEPT the cups. I bought a set of pre-filled glass cups that contained a metal shaft which housed the actual wick surrounded by the oil-gel-liquid-stuff. After Chanukah, I washed out the glass cups and metal shafts and kept them. The next year all I needed (and I’ve been doing this for three years already) was olive oil (any brand with a hechshar or Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is acceptable w/o a hechshar) and a trip to Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or Jo-Ann Frabrics to buy 2 packages of fabric wicks with metal wire in the middle. I’ve found that 2 packages of the 6 foot wicks is plenty for at least two oil menorahs. The best part is that each package is only $1.99. It does take a little time to cut the wicks for the glass cups, but it works and remember… the mitzvah is to light, not the preparation of lighting!

Great discussion!

At December 20, 2006 at 6:52:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Neil: It sounds like you really have your system down. Thank you for sharing your process. I think I finally have my custom way as well [wax covered wicks inserted into metal disks].

At December 24, 2006 at 1:49:00 PM EST, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

My son's menorah with the semisolid-oil-in-glass cups worked erratically through the rest of Hanukkah. Some of the floating wicks supplied with the cups capsized very soon. Others burned for over 4 hours. Others in-between. The smokiness was not severe (very little if any at the start) and was mostly evident as the oil level dropped further into the glass.

My own oil menorah worked very well with extra virgin olive oil (Pompeian with Star-K). It used cylindrical glass cups with the cotton wick suspended from above through a small center hole in the metal cap (that fit over the glass rim). There were larger holes in the cap around the center hole, so I could even pour oil in with the wick (that I had singed ahead of time) already in position. The wicks were so long that generally I just had to pull them out a little through the holes in the caps to get them ready for the next night.

From experience, I have learned to add the oil just before lighting.


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