Posts Tagged ‘halt’

How to Stop Chili or Chilli Burning

April 17, 07



MOUTH – Drink milk or alcohol. The chilli chemical does not dissolve in water, but it dissolves in fats (e.g. milk cream) or alcohol.

SKIN – Rub with salt. You can use a bit of water to lubricate. Finish off with a rinse in milk and wash with soap and water. If that still doesn’t work (like in my case below), soak your hand in a strong alcoholic beverage for minutes (Jack Daniels seems a popular choice among commentors, especially to drink and sooth the mouth/throat!). The salt scrapes off the chilli stuck to your skin, the milk and soap and alcohol dissolve what little is left.


Tip from a Thai restaurant – leave a cucumber slice on the affected area.

Tip from Poison Control – soak in Maalox, use Solarcaine or Xylocaine to relieve pain.

Tip from sandy kay, rub Vicks Vaporub (mentholated cream) on the skin.

Tip from Brenda and Sumati Nair, soak in lemon juice. If these work for you, do mention in the comments.

Tip from Kitty Cat, soak in homemade scrub/yogurt.

Tip from Jennifer K, olive oil seems to help after the salt rub.

Tip from Jimmy, a Thai remedy is to put toothpaste on the spot.

Tip from yam, smear mayonnaise on the affected spot.

Tip from sarah rub a cut onion on the skin.

Tip from Rebecca, spray degreaser on the skin.

Tip from Josh, swallowing sweetened condensed milk helps due to the high sugar and fat content.

Tip from Thankyou, rubbing Gaviscon on the affected skin helps. From my own experience, Gaviscon works well for normal gastric or indigestion too.

Tip from Jessie James, use sour cream.

Commenter JGIG also suggests sour cream – which is basically milk in semi-solid form.

Pass on the solution through email, Facebook, whatever – share the relief!


Anne prepared her mom’s recipe for aglio olio – spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, plus bacon, black pepper and chillies mixed in, topped with freshly grated cheese! Mmmmm, delicious!

Unfortunately, when she was chopping chillies at her place, somehow some of it must have rubbed into her left hand. Strange, because she was wearing gloves to prevent just that from happening! Maybe there was a small hole in the gloves…

Anyway, her hand had a painful, burning sensation that wouldn’t stop. Imagine eating really hot, spicy tom yam… But it’s your hand’s skin that is burning! 


In order to stop the burning sensation, Anne had to clean off the chilli. She tried: Washing with soap, washing with shampoo, dunking into dish detergent, washing with aloe vera, washing with oil… Nothing seemed to work! And her right hand picked up some of the burning due to coming in contact with her left hand!

From my researching for my thesis, I knew that drinking water doesn’t help much to remove the burning of spicy food in your mouth because capsaicin (the active chemical that gives chillies their burning power) is not water soluble.

But capsaicin is fat or alcohol soluble, so drinking milk or alcoholic beverages can dissolve the burning taste in your mouth much faster than water can.

So over at my place, we borrowed some of Yu Pei’s cold milk and put it into a bowl. The milk fats should help remove the capsaicin from Anne’s hand. Anne put her hand into the cold milk, and it seemed to work! Even though it was Hi-Lo, with low fat, it seemed to relieve the burning greatly.


But after Anne removed her hand from the milk, the burning could be felt again… Less strong, but still uncomfortable! Guess the coldness of the milk was a strong contibutor, as well as the soothing milk. But the capsaicin was still on her hand.

Well anyway, we continued on to dinner. The aglio olio was great, but really spicy! Must have been the small, hot chillies and the Sarawak black pepper!

Anne had to keep the bowl of milk at hand to dunk her hand into while she ate. Oh, poor girl! But just then, I had a revelation: Ask my mum what to do!

A short call later, my mum replied with her years of cooking experience that the way to stop the burning was to: RUB THE HAND WITH SALT! Wah! Wouldn’t that be painful? My mum said it would be ok, ‘cos it’s just on the outside on the skin.


To quote Anne: “Would rather be painful for hours than rub salt!”

But we tried it after some hesitation. And wouldn’t you know: Mother knows best! The abrasive salt (dry at first, then a bit wet) rubbed off the capsaicin traces from the sruface of the skin! And it didn’t burn like when salt gets into a wound, since the chillies didn’t actually enter past the skin.

There was still a little bit of burning, but after a bath it was all better. To quote Yu Pei: “Who said rather be painful for hours ah?”

And that is how you remove the burning sensation of chilli or chili from your hand: Rub it off with salt!

Thanks, ma.

(Note: I put both chilli and chili in the title because Google spells it with one L – easier for people to find while their hands are on fire)

ADDENDUM 27 Sept 2008: When it came to my own turn to have burning chilli hands, the salt did NOT work even when rubbed with salt repeatedly, soaked in salt, smeared with salt… It finally went off after I soaked my hand in strong alcoholic beverage for around half an hour – chilled for extra relief. I used cheap brandy, that I normally use only for flambe (cos it’s cheap, 40% alcohol and doesn’t taste great).


Even Estonians have found the advice useful!



Stop Chilli Burning

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