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A Practical Guide to Hagala

by Rabbi Dovid Bendory, II Adar 5765 (April 2005)

OK, so you made a mistake in the kitchen and cooked milk in a meat pot. How do you kasher the pot? Hagala is the process of kashering a kli (any kitchen utensil) by complete submersion in boiling water. To kasher by hagala, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the utensil thoroughly. If it has any cracks or openings that may have food stuck inside them, these must be thoroughly cleaned out before kashering with hagala. Areas that cannot be cleaned should be torched before hagala to burn off any nonkosher foods or absorbed tastes. Alternatively, you can use a caustic cleanser like Easy Off® which will render any forbidden taste lifgam (like dirt).
  2. Let the utensil sit unused for 24 hours.
  3. Bring a large pot full of water to a rigorous boil. The pot needs to be kosher; it may be dairy, meat, or pareve. The amount of water must be sufficient to completely immerse the utensil being kashered while still maintaining a rigorous boil. (See steps 4 and 7 below for more details on the immersion requirement.)
  4. While the pot is boiling rigorously, drop the kli in. The kli must be completely surrounded by boiling water before it either floats to the top or settles on the bottom. Hagala is instantaneous — the moment the utensil is completely surrounded by the boiling hot water, hagala is complete! The utensil need not sit in the water for any length of time. (See notes below regarding kitchen utensils with detachable plastic handles.)
  5. Remove the kli and immediately rinse it completely under cold water. Use (kosher) tongs, a pair of spoons, etc. to remove the kli. If necessary, the tongs may be kashered in this same fashion prior to its use. Rinse the tongs under the cold water along with the kli being kashered.
  6. The utensils are now kosher.
  7. Multiple items may be kashered at the same time or one after another as long as the pot continues to boil rigorously and as long as there is enough space in the pot for all items to be completely surrounded by boiling water. Avoid kashering two items when they are touching each other.
  8. When finished kashering, some people have a custom to do hagala on the pot that was used for hagala. There are those who say that l'chatchila it is enough to pour out the large pot and rinse it with cold water. In either case, even if you forget to do so the large pot need not be kashered.

Note that when kashering for Passover, it is customary that the large pot be kashered for Passover before it is used for hagala.

Questions to ponder:

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