By: Halacha Yomit team of OU KOSHER
Halachically all oils are acceptable for kindling the Chanukah lights, but it is preferable to use olive oil. Does gelled olive oil, which is solid until lit, have the same preferred status as liquid olive oil?
It is preferable to light the menorah with olive oil for three reasons: the light from olive oil is pure and clear, the oil is easily drawn into the wick, and finally (and perhaps most significantly), on Chanukah we commemorate the miracle of the Menorah in the Beit Hamikdash that burned for eight days, and that Menorah had to be lit with olive oil. Gelled olive oil would not have been acceptable for use in the Beit Hamikdash because as a solid, it does not constitute “olive oil,” which is a Biblical requirement for the Menorah. As such, gelled oil should not be the preferred choice for lighting the Chanukah menorah.
Nevertheless, Rav Shmuel Vosner (Shevet Haleivi 7:143) maintains that gelled olive oil may be used lichatchila (without reservation) for Chanukah, since it melts and becomes oil almost as soon as the candle is lit. Though gelled oil would not be acceptable for use in the Beit Hamikdash, it is adequately similar to liquid olive oil and may be used for Chanukah.
Rav Nissan Karelitz disagrees on this last point and maintains that the preferred oil for Chanukah is limited to oil that was kosher for the Menorah in the Beit Hamikdash.
For more guidance, consult your local Orthodox rabbi.