What are Communion Wafers Made of?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

The traditional communion wafers served during Roman Catholic services are made out of two ingredients, wheat flour and water. In fact, during the earliest years of the Christian church, there was an entire ritual surrounding the process of creating the wafers, beginning with the selection and cleansing of the wheat. Once the wheat had been properly washed and ground, only a baker sanctioned by the local church council could produce communion wafers in a ceremonially shielded iron-plated oven.

Water, which is combined with wheat flour to make communion wafers.
Water, which is combined with wheat flour to make communion wafers.

Eventually, certain orders of nuns assumed the responsibility of creating communion wafers, which often became a source of income for their convents. The standard ingredients still remained wheat flour and water, with no seasoning or leavening permitted. The wafers were intended to melt in the recipient's mouth as he or she reflected on the sacrifices made by Jesus Christ. During the Eucharist service, a form of wine or natural grape juice is also served along with the bread or wafers.

Priest giving the Holy Communion to a young girl.
Priest giving the Holy Communion to a young girl.

Modern wafers may be embossed with religious symbols or perforated for easier dispensation. The priests who serve holy communion may have to consume larger wafers, also called hosts, than those placed on the tongues of congregants. There are also larger sheets of wafers designed to be broken along pre-scored lines. Religious supply stores often carry several different varieties of communion breads to address the needs of different Christian denominations.

Most communion wafers are made of wheat.
Most communion wafers are made of wheat.

The use of plain wheat flour and water does give communion wafers an air of humility, but some find the bland taste to be very unappealing. Some Christian denominations which observe holy communion have opted for other types of bread, such as unleavened pita bread, table crackers, leavened loaf bread or even flour tortillas. Some manufacturers of communion wafers also offer gluten-free varieties made from soy or potato flour. While acceptance of these alternative breads may vary from denomination to denomination, the symbolism of the bread as the body of Christ still remains.

Priest with a communion wafer.
Priest with a communion wafer.

The appeal of communion wafers as a snack food may remain elusive to many of us, but there are a number of places in the world where a form of communion wafer can be found next to pretzels, corn chips and peanuts. Since these crackers are fat-free by nature, and generally free of any unnatural preservatives or salt, they may be popular. Since these particular wafers have not been consecrated by the Catholic church, their religious significance is considered nominal. Other forms of unleavened "Bible bread" can also be found in a number of grocery stores.

Communion wafers and wine.
Communion wafers and wine.
Potato flour, which can be used to make gluten-free communion wafers.
Potato flour, which can be used to make gluten-free communion wafers.
Flour tortillas are sometimes used as communion wafers.
Flour tortillas are sometimes used as communion wafers.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone know who makes the communion bread? I would like to contact someone who does.

Thank you in advance for any replies or thoughts on this.


Why does anyone want to know if communion wafers are kosher?


You need both the bread and the wine to represent the body and blood of Jesus! It is inappropriate to believe the Eucharist to be complete in you if you don't take the wine.


Actually, Catholic doctrine holds that Christ is indivisible, thus at the moment of consecration the substance of the bread and the substance of the wine equally and fully changes into the substance of the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

The wine, as such, is not necessary for general communion and is usually reserved for priestly consumption. Wine is used because Christ used it at the first Eucharist, and it does represent his blood, but after consecration is not merely the blood of Christ.


@ZipLine: You could just ask God for healing of your gluten condition so you can take the wafer. Right before taking communion, the congregation says, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed." Next time, say that phrase like you mean. Mark 11:24 says "Therefore I say unto you, what things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them."


I wish my church would buy gluten-free communion wafers. I have a gluten intolerance and my church only has wheat wafers. I go to communion but I just cross my arms on my chest and ask for a blessing when it's my turn. I don't take the wafer.

I've spoken to my priest about this but he said that they will consider it if there are more people who are unable to take the wafer due to health reasons. I understand they don't want to make a change for just one person.

It would be great to be able to accept a communion wafer though.


@ddljohn-- You don't seem ignorant at all. It's nice that you are interested in this and want to learn.

Communion is the remembrance of Jesus Christ. During the Last Supper, Jesus gave bread to his disciples and instructed his followers to do the same after his death in remembrance of him. The bread is his body, the symbol of his sacrifice to save us from our sins. There is also a communion table which is to remind us of the Last Supper.

The tradition has been there since the very beginning since it was instructed by Christ.


I'm not Catholic and I don't have Catholic friends who can teach me. So please excuse me if I seem ignorant about this subject.

Can anyone explain the purpose of eating wafers during communion? I understand that wafers and wine symbolize the body and blood of Christ. But why is this done? When did this tradition start?


What kind of machines are used in the modern processing of communion wafers, and how can one get such machines?


Yes, anon257605 is correct. When you accept the body of Christ, you already have the Eucharist inside you. Thus, you don't really need the blood of Christ. You aren't less holy without it. It's also the reason why you don't need to bow to the tabernacle or cross yourself after receiving the host, nor bow when you enter the pew again.


@anon145340: The reason is because it is your choice to receive the wine. It is not necessary to receive it every time you receive communion.


Why do some catholics only take one form of the eucharist? That is, the wafer, but not the wine? Isn't this wrong? --A catholic


The Eucharist is the proper name. The Roman Catholic is correct in its ways.


We are suppliers for wafers industries. one natural product is called Fry Powder & Filters. They are using this to control the oil that goes into the product. The oil has very less fuel cost and can reduce about 10%. The quality of product is upgraded automatically.

This is a mineral & a natural antioxidant.

Thank You


Are Communion wafers considered kosher?

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