Consumer Alert: Menorah Fire Hazard

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16 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Our son used another type of prepackaged menorah lights this year, which used glass and were not a hazard, but the solidified olive oil in these melted (as planned) and then burned smokily from the start. The smokiness and the inconvenient disposal of unburned oil (which resolidifies in the one-use glass cup) negate any convenience factor.

    Both pure liquid olive oil (such as extra virgin grade) and ordinary paraffin candles burn much more brightly and cleanly.

    Also note the potential hazard of any menorah lights whose design encloses the oil so much as to allow pressure to build up inside the glass when lit. These could burst and throw glass shards and hot oil around.

  2. Micha Berger says:

    I am not sure what makes this brand unique. I would be careful with any system (preassembled or not) that uses metal to hold up the wick. It conducts heat to the cup. For that matter, if the cup is glass, it could shatter and add the danger of flying shards ch”v on top of any possible spread of fire. Melting plastic is relatively safer, though neither is an overly good idea.

    -micha

  3. HILLEL says:

    I use metal wick holders every day, and I have no problems. Maybe there is some other factor involved here.

  4. David says:

    I read that the problem is with plastic cups, not glass. I can’t confirm that, though.

  5. Eliezer says:

    I was told that the real issue was that, for some inexplicable reason, the containers are made of plastic instead of glass.

    Hence – they melt.

    Or so other blogs are reporting about this China-made product.

  6. Yaakov Menken says:

    If you can’t see well enough just by looking at the image above carefully, then right click on it and “view image” to see it in full size. It is obvious that the cups are indeed plastic, because they melted — and that’s the problem. Glass doesn’t melt!

    Glass cups will also not shatter if you put a small amount of water beneath the oil.

  7. Jewish Observer says:

    “Glass doesn’t melt!”

    – have you ever taken a chalamoyed trip to Corning?

  8. Ellen says:

    Also re metal wick holders – looks like these encase the entire wick, going down the full depth of the glass. Don’t people usually use ones which are placed on the top of the glass cup?

  9. David says:

    R. Yaakov, the story that is being publicized clearly describes them as glass cups.

  10. Rivka W. says:

    The problematic ones are this brand, which is one of many brands. In and of itself, being plastic is not a problem. The brand I have used for three years, and occasionally buy for Shabbos use as well, is plastic. But the construction is much better (the metal pieces are aluminum, which is a relatively poor conductor; the plastic is thick, especially at the point where the metal connects; the base is made in such a way an to have air between it and the metal menorah in which it sits), and the brand has been in use for many years in Israel. Oh, and they contain real olive oil, none of this gelled stuff (which apparently gets quite a bit hotter than oil).

    Hey, if people switch to the EZ-Lites, you think I can get a kickback? 😉

  11. Bob Miller says:

    Some plastics are more heat and flame resistant than others. Years ago, special reinforced plastics were used by Matty Holtzberg of Polimotor Research Inc. to make a largely plastic engine for racing cars. I suspect that the Chinese who made the meltable oil cups used cheap plastic.

    As for the oil, the gel seems to burn less brightly than everyday extra virgin olive oil.

    Heat conduction by metal in these oil cup assemblies is probably a good thing. Aluminum conducts heat pretty well, as it does in pots and pans.

  12. hp says:

    Our plastic cups melt each night, but they are not pre-filled, nor do they have any metal wick holder. Plain, plastic cups, melting down consistently. Perhaps it’s the plastic itself.

  13. Zev says:

    I also purchased this brand. On the third night of Chanukah, one of the oil candles suddenly burst into flames and started to melt. Thankfully, I blew out the fire before it reached my wooden table. This product is unsfafe because the oil containers are made of plastic, which is very flammable. The oil containers should be made of glass.

  14. Rivka W. says:

    “Aluminum conducts heat pretty well, as it does in pots and pans.”

    Aluminum is a metal, so it conducts heat — no question. However, it does so not nearly as well as metals like gold, silver, copper, and (to a lesser degree) iron do. Which is why aluminum pans are always thin, while iron (cast iron, for example, as well as stainless steel) pots and pans can be quite thick.

    It’s also why a silver spoon placed in a glass of hot tea will get extremely hot, while a stainless steel spoon much less so, and aluminum one not terribly hot at all.

  15. Bob Miller says:

    Rivka W.,

    FYI, Aluminum has a much higher thermal conductivity than brass (as opposed to pure copper), cast iron or any steel.

    As an example, see this table showing many common materials (a higher number means it’s more conductive):
    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/thermal-conductivity-d_429.html

    I have not seen solid aluminum teaspoons. There are plastic spoons, etc., for parties that have a superthin metal coating, probably aluminum, to make them look metallic.

  16. Kosher Chicken says:

    This is the real story that happened in Passaic on the 5th night of Hanuka.
    As you see, the “Aharon J.” and Co. are not stam ganavim, but third degree murderers (thilato be pshi’a sofo be ones):

    I was driving with my wife late last night and we turned from Brook onto Westminster. As we turned my wife told me that she saw some xmas decorations on fire in the front yard of a house. I got out to take a look and saw it was not one of the million electric xmas decorations on the front lawn but a menorah in the first floor window (tenant). I pounded on the door and woke up a very hysterical woman who lives in the house. Smoke was everywhere and a pool of oil on the table was causing a 5 foot high fire. We put it out and she told me it was her roomate’s meonrah which was just a bunch of prepackaged oil cups that obviously melted.

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