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Avoiding chilli burn

20 January 2004 - 2:46pm -- Joseph

Over Christmas I discovered a useful technique for avoiding chili burn. You know, when you cut up chillies and then rub your eyes, or touch other sensitive parts, and wish you hadn't? I find it hard to get the chilli off my hands, soap and water doesn't seem to work to well. Then it hit me... Chilli dissolves in fat (which is why yoghurt drinks and sour cream cool the palette much more effectively than drinking water or beer). So, to get the chilli off your hands, 'wash' them with olive oil, (or any other oil-based substance). Hey presto! No more sting. So there you go.... And my hands felt all soft afterwards too. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

To celebrate this kitchen triumph, I finally got round to putting up the magnetic knife-rack we received as a Wedding present (thanks Richie!). It looks very cool, too (knives, grrrrr!!!!!). Expect more handy kitchen tips the next time I come over all 'Good house keeping', approximately never.

Update As noted by Charlie in a comment below (thanks Charlie), lemon/lime juice seems to provide actual relief to the burning sensation. I'm assuming therefore that the chilli 'burn' is an alkaline burn, which is relieved by the application of an acid such as lemon juice (though that's just a guess). The oil washing method is a good way of removing the chilli from your hands, thus preventing chilli burn, but doesn't seem to provide much relief from the burning itself. So, to summarize,

Preventing Chilli burn

To prevent Chilli burn, use an oil-based substance (such as olive oil) to remove traces of chilli from your hands.

Relieving Chilli burn

For relief from Chilli burn, apply a (safe) acid such as lemon juice to the effected area.


we've been cooking for bicol express for the first time, unfortunately the three of us not wearing gloves while we're preparing/cooking for our bicol express, after an hour the three of us feel the chili pain on our fingers/hands.. and you what we've done? we only washed astring-o-sol mouthwash...hehehe a minute after the chili pain washed away.. pls. try this remedy it might help you guys!..

For all u indians out der, try ghee... just rub it in nd leave it on for sometime... works wonders!!!

Wow...these chili burns are no joke. About 20 minutes after cutting Serrano chilis to put into a guacamole, I started to feel a slight warmth in my fingers (which, of course, I ignored like a big dummy). Not long after that, I felt like my hand was on fire. Rubbing my hands in lemon juice, olive oil, and alcohol provided only temporary relief, only to have the burn slowly come back, only more intensely. Combining methods from the poison control center, and from what several others have tried, here's what I came up with. Really worked for me:

Make a paste with salt and olive oil and rub it into your hands for about 5-10 minutes. This will be a little uncomfortable, especially if your fingers are burning.
Let the salt paste coat your hands for another 10-15 minutes then wash off with soap and cool water. Ahhh...instant relief...

Learned my lesson.

Next time...gloves.

thanks so much for your wisdom--I just experienced the worst chili burn on my tongue ever. I tried licking salt and drinking milk to no avail, then read your advice. I squeezed the juice from half a lemon and literally bathed my tongue in it. Wonder of wonders, it's totally fine now :o)
My boyfriend said next time he'll make me margaritas to cure the burn!

Thanks for your help- was cooking yesterday with chillis, cut them up without gloves on and my hands still feel very painful- but the lemon juice helped!

Thank you.... your lemon juic idea is really amazing..... it works in seconds :) Thanks a lot.

Today i cut up this tiny little red chilli, luckily I thought to test a tiny bit with the tip of my tongue, and instant when my husband came back from aikido, i just had to let him try, and this is when i got a LOT of chilli juice on my fingers(serves me right) and they were on fire!
I tried everything you suggested, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt..eventually i found some relief after putting the salt and oil mix/paste on my fingers for 15 mins..the burn is not 100% gone, but its now just a slight burning as opposed to being on fire!
Thank you to all of you for the advice!

i'm currently sat with a slice of lime on my finger...thanks for the tips...seems to be working for now...only problem is lime juice in a small cut on my finger! (at least its taking my mind off the burn!)

hello people
i would assume that you must be some what stupid like me to be to be reading this blog.
but i would say its the best site i have ever been too.

after trying to impress my mother in law by seeding the bloody hottest chillies in the face of this planet, and obviously without the gloves i coped the clilly burns.
after trying everything thats and reading 99 blogs nothing worked.

then i decided to try the fijian method of remedy.

made a sugar paste(3:1 sugar to water) and soaked my hands in it.
washed hands after 5 min and the left it for a while to dry.

repeated the process twice and had a comforting result at the end.

would also like to thank all those people who wrote in this blog for those not using brains where needed--------- like me./

After cutting 250 grams of chilli by hand to deseed........7 hours later my burning went away......after trying all of the above...vinegar, oil and salt, sugar and water.....nothing worked.......I used ice .....nothing else worked....I suffered for 7 hrs....please use gloves ......K....xx

I read about needing gloves to cut chilis on the packet and laughed. Chili doesn't burn my hands. But it sure as hell burns my lips and the area around my mouth. Lemon juice-no improvement. I really can' stand vinegar :'(

Oh crap...

I deseeded a serrano chile and both of my hands and mouth were on fire. My mouth thankfully subsided but my hands were no avail. I tried yogurt, aloe, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, ice cream, even lanacaine burn spray which made it worse. NOTHING WORKED. I had to sleep with a cold pack on my hands at night because that soothed the relief. It is the next day and the burn has somewhat subsided unless i rub my hands or put pressure on them, it is STILL THERE.

i squeezed some chili to add it for my food then got the chili juices all over my hand!! I felt intense pain after a few minutes. I have no lemon juice or something but instead i used a vit C tablet since it has acids and stuff.. is it okay?


if it works and didn't kill you...

should be fine...

[disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Also, the Internet can be wrong.]

I had to chop 9 allsorted chillies but little did i knew that i would get burnt inbetween my fingers. . . I just forgot about the pain as it wore off after the olive oil but later on i rubed my eye and i was in pain ,so for goodness sake wear gloves -!

I had to chop 9 allsorted chillies but little did i knew that i would get burnt inbetween my fingers. . . I just forgot about the pain as it wore off after the olive oil but later on i rubed my eye and i was in pain ,so for goodness sake wear gloves -!

This is amazing advice, chopped about 20 thin green chillies about 5 hours ago and it never occurred to me that the little sods actually did this to you even though on the bag it says "wear gloves"! and have felt this pain every time i chop them! I stumbled across this website and used olive oil then vinegar, (no lemons) the main pain disappeared pretty much immediately, just left with a very slight tingle now which is totally bearable. THANK YOU!

about 2 hours after chopping and de-seeding extra hot scotch bonnet chillis with bare hands I then started feeling a burning sensation on both hands especially my fingertips. after googling for treatment i came accross this page............after doing the old soap, milk, lemon juice, yog, etc, etc - I realised that nothing helped so had a sleepless nite with several trips to freezer to fill ice bucket that I slept with my hands in :( the following day STILL one of my hands was on fire, swollen, tight, dry and angry.....then I discovered the SUDOCREM trick - arghhhhhhhhhhhhh - at last no burning!! I smeared the cream all over hands and lightly wrapped round a bandage - wooooohooooo no more burning - hope this helps xxxxx

My first experience with Serrano Chilies! I had no idea they were going to burn!! - I quickly google'd and found your site! Thanks very much! The Olive oil + lemon + Salt - did the trick... now it is a very faint burn!

I have tried all of the above , nothings worked - ive been in agony for over 9 hours and im still in agony! its middle of the night and my hands are literally on fire!

We are poor dumb fools. For me, it just a lazy Saturday afternoon... making black beans...adding serrano peppers. Forgot: DO NOT touch the seeds. I ended up at this web site looking for a remedy. Tried it all --- olive oil --- lime --- key lime juice, (no lemons on hand) --- olive oil and key lime juice mixture, ... Had a Smithwick. That was GOOD... Heavy cream (milk) that diminished the fire. NEXT...Kosher salt & olive oil...that helped some. Now my fingers have a slow burn. But, my hands are NOT ON FIRE!!! At least this is all temporary... Gonna have another Smithwick. Now my hands are really ok. I hope it lasts.

I'm wondering what my neighbours think of me now,
I was standing at my kitchen sink scrubbing my hands with
coconut oil then lemon juice over and over then smelling
my hands and sticking my fingers in my mouth (to see if my tongue still burned or not when it contacted my finger).. the must think I'm nuts by now!
But at least I won't rub my eye while I'm asleep and wake up with my face burning off.

Forget the vinegar, lemons etc. The miracle cure for this is to wee on the affected area. I know it sounds horrible but I cant feel the burn at all now after trying everything possible!!!

I had never heard of the burn either. I did read in the recipe not to touch anywhere on my face. Made some homemade guacamole with Serrano's. All was well until I was cleaning up. So, the internet is my friend and I found this site. Thanks to all who added info. The oil and lime helped, then you just have to hold a nice large COLD glass of wine for an hour or so. Works wonders.

Ive tried milk first then lemons and thank god it has mostly worked to ease this pain.

I deseeded heaps of dried chillies to collect the seeds to plant. Later I went to the gents room and almost immediately the burning kicked in on a certain sensitive body part... I felt so stupid pouring milk then basically holding half a lemon to my crotch. But it was worth it for the relief -- I swear it burnt with the ferocity of 1000 suns

I occasionally prepare chillies and freeze them in small quantities. Busy chopping red and green chillies this evening, thinking that washing hands afterwards would be sufficient. Within about 20 minutes, fingers stinging like hell! After an hour of suffering, decided to try internet in desperation, and found this site. Immediately smothered my hands in olive oil, washed off with soap and cool water, then spent some minutes squeezing quarter of a lemon onto affected areas. Almost instant relief! Now, two hours on, fingers are still sensitive, but bearable, thank goodness. Thanks to everyone for great advice. I shall wear rubber gloves next time!

I tried the lemon juice and it was a relief. Thanks for this site. I learned my lesson not to de-seed the evil chilies with no oil in my hands. I was in agony for 8 hours until I found this site. Thanks again. The lemon juice was a top notch.

After deseeding some chilies I felt an intense burning sensation in the soft skin between my fingers. I looked up your site ,tried the lime juice ,as there were no lemons,and bingo! the burning started to ease. I shall try the oil tip before deseeding next time
many thanks for the tips.
PS. have entered the anti spam No mentioned above

Just been chopping up my home-grown Apache Chillies and nipped to the loo without thinking. Can't remember the last time I was so close to tears. Lemon juice worked a charm - instant relief. Althought the 'old mans' a bit sticky

My husband blew his nose after cutting some chilis and started crying afterwards. Thankfully, we found this site. He stuck some lemon juice on two cotton balls, stuck them inside his nose (TMI?) and said the relief was immediate. Thanks ;D

I wish I had read the lemon thing earlier before I spent 2 hours awake in the middle of my sleep...from midnight to 2 am I was awake and with burning fingers. I did the olive oil thing and it helped some but not nearly enough so then I found this...(my last attempt) and it worked almost instantly...thanx

I got chilli on my nose and across my cheeks. I tried lemon, cocoa butter, white vinegar all of them. Then I tried pressing tissues soaked in milk on it. Only use the tissue once, or else the chilli transfers from skin to tissue and back to skin. The milk helped straight away, down to a liveable burn. And within 10 minutes of watching tv, I had forgotten about it! yay. try milk!

Hi... my hands were burning a lot after deseeding a few chillis... I tried salt, milk ,cold water, soap.. but nothing worked like the lemon juice to reduce the burning instantly... Thanks

Burned my hands on chilli cooking fajitas and nothing would work. Tried pouring milk on my hand, which didn't really work. Oil eases the pain but, lemon really works!! Still tingling but, definately the ticket!!!

was making chilli pickle with very mild chillies, i always use de chop board. somehow cut de chillies with hand. my hands were on fire for several hours, tried - hand wash; water, creams, ice ....nothing seemed to work. its 2:48 right now. oil plus lemon seems to be quite a an extent which makes me 2 extend my gratitude to tde person who wrote this.. my left hand is still unwashed, as i don't want to remove de lemon....thanks a ton..

I can't get rid of the burning in my hands and it comes and goes on my lips. It s been 20 hours and no sooo miserable. I have tried EVERYTHNG and am now on painkillers !

it gave me instant relief but the burning crept back, perhaps not as intense as before I had cooked with the chillis a couple of hours ago, great tip tip thanks

I started cutting the chillies at 9AM and i started feeling the burning sensation at 10:30AM. It's now 10:30PM and I've tried milk, lemon juice, vinager, oil and lemon juice and nothing has worked! I'm guessing waaay to late. I need to sleep so I'm just gonna use painkillers and an ice pack as my teddy bear. Ugh. I wanna throw a bunch of chillies at my sister's face so she stop telling me deal with it and stop being a pussy.

I didn't realise a chilli had fallen into my garden glove whilst working in the yard until I felt a severe burining pain - I thought I had been stung by some sort of insect - when I took my glove off there was a tinyred chilli squashed between my fingers -ouch!!

I tried washing in cold water; squeezing aloe vera juice straight from the garden onto the area; applying burn cream- all to no avail as the pain worsened. I decided in desperation to get onto the web and look for a remedy when I came across "bleach" - tried it and got immediate relief - just mixed it in a little water and soaked and rubbed it into the affected area - so far, so good! I couldn't believe that I had been in pain for several hours and this was so simple! I would recommend this to anyone to try up front, and thanks to all those bloggers who suggested bleach.

I was choppin Habanero's from my garden today (gloveless) and then proceeded to mix the chillis with ginger and sauce to coat chicken as a marinade. I managed to get chilli under my fingernails (VERY SORE) I tried the oil, lemon juice, bleach, milk, ice water nothing helps! I can barely type and I've got tests to write tomorrow. HELP

My mrs had burns on her hands from making chillie muscles and all the oils and yogurt ideas did nothing for relief from the burning pain

but the tip on lemon juice was good (we tried orange juice)

def do this for relief from the burning

I was cutting up some Thai chilli and idiotically scratched the inside of my ear... I can assure you the agony was severe. I dabbed some lemon juice on a Q-tip and gently applied some to the burning areas. Thank you, it felt as though there was a burning wick headed for my brain, I feel much better.

ow! ow! ow!
mistake #1 - de-seeded super hot chilli with my bare fingers
mistake #2 - forgot to wash them afterwards
1 hour later and fingers on fire - especially under nails.
scrubbed with water, soap, detergent, cried and then googled.
now typing with one hand in lemon and olive oil.
Tip: lemon juice from squeezy bottle didn't work but fresh lemon is amazing.
thank you so much!

You are a legend, was cutting up chillies and then blew my nose and felt like my nose was on fire. The lemon juice worked a treat.

Thank you

great tip on the lemons, i've been growing habanero chillis at 500,000 scoville units, and my hand was on fire 24 hours later... lemon juice is great
thanks :)


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