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Put the fire out from eating hot peppers

You just took a big spoonful of that awesome smelling chili, or bit deep into a suicide chicken wing. Instantly your mouth has become a burning inferno. Panic sets in as you begin to uncontrollably sweat and run around the kitchen looking for something, anything that will douse the flames in your mouth, throat and sometimes, nose and sinuses. Here are some specific do’s that will make it better and don’ts that will make it worse.


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  • drink and eat dairy products
  • drink alcohol
  • eat bread, pasta, or rice
  • suck on lemons and swill tomato juice
  • know which peppers you are eating before you eat them

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  • drink water or carbonated beverages
  • drink hot drinks like tea or coffee
  • eat more hot food
  • handle extremely hot peppers without wearing gloves
  • touch your body


Do drink and eat dairy products

The best solution for a pepper induced inferno in your mouth is dairy products. So drink milk, eat ice cream, eat yogurt, sour cream or cottage cheese. The heat in peppers is caused by capsaicinoids, a fatty oil in the peppers. Milk contains casein, a protein that binds to the fat molecules and washes away the capsaicin thus alleviating the burning sensation. If the burning is contained to your mouth, you may consider not swallowing the dairy product, but in fact spit it out and the capsaicins with it.

Do drink alcohol

This is probably one of the few times where someone will recommend you drink. Essentially, the alcohol in the wine and wine coolers will effectively dissipate the capsaicins. However, the amount of alcohol is probably not enough to alleviate the inferno, but can simply dull it down to a raging fire. More wine will help but then you have a different challenge, being drunk.

Do eat bread, pasta, or rice

While not as effective as dairy products, if you are lactose intolerant, it is recommended you eat bread, pasta or rice that will help to absorb the fatty capsaicins. Again, if the inferno is contained in the mouth, it is recommended you don’t swallow the bread. Simply chew the bread, pasta or rice and then spit it out.

Do suck on lemons and swill tomato juice

Again for the lactose intolerant, another remedy is to eat or suck on lemons and swill tomato juice. The acid in the lemons and tomato juice attacks the oily capsaicins.

Do know which peppers you are eating before you eat them

The level of capsaicins and thus the heat generated by a pepper is specific to each pepper. So, to avoid the atomic heat that can make you feel like your face is melting off, you should absolutely know which peppers you are about to eat before you eat them and the amount of heat they generate. To help you measure how hot your pepper is, look at the Scoville scale, which measures the heat of peppers.


Do not drink water or carbonated beverages

Drinking water or carbonated beverages such as sodas and energy drinks, will not alleviate the burn created by hot chili peppers. In fact, it will make it worse because the water will spread the capsaicin oils and thus spread the heat. While the alcohol in a beer will dissipate the heat, depending upon the severity, the water in the beer might make it worse.

Do not drink hot drinks like tea or coffee

Drinking hot drinks like tea and coffee will not reduce the heat from peppers. Water, tea, and coffee will simply spread the capsaicin oils that cause the heat around in your mouth and to your stomach.

Do not eat more hot food

It is a fact that a person can become less sensitive to the extreme heat of the “hotter” chilies, but this occurs over a long period of time, not in one meal. Also it usually takes a gradual exposure to hotter and hotter chilies, not first time exposure to inferno heat generating chilies. So, if you find the heat almost unbearable, do not take another bite. It will only get worse, not better.

Do not handle extremely hot peppers without wearing gloves

Your home cooking chili or making hot wings and it comes time to add the peppers to the chili sauce. Absolutely wear gloves when handling hot peppers, otherwise you may experience a concentrated dose of the heat from the peppers. If you do not wear gloves, the oil from the peppers can be absorbed by your fingernails which means you distribute the heat to everything you touch in preparing the meal. If you chew your fingernails you may want to stop, because you will experience a significant dose of heat the next time you put your fingers in your mouth.

If you find your hands begin to burn as a result of handling chilis, soak them in Pepto Bismol or Maalox. You can also wash your hands with milk, which will have a similar effect of reducing the heat and irritation.

Do not touch your body

In handling or eating hot peppers, absolutely do not under any circumstances touch your eyes, nose, or other sensitive body parts to avoid experiencing extreme heat and pain that is often not easily alleviated. You can again use milk to try and wash away the heat, but the irritation may remain and take significant time to subside. In severe cases do go to an Emergency Room. Tell them the specific peppers you were exposed to and approximate concentration.

Also, be sure to wash your utensils, cooking knives, spoons, bowls, and cutting board with hot water and a detergent, otherwise you can transfer the residual heat from the peppers to your hands when you use these next time you cook.


Eating hot food can either be a pleasant exhilarating culinary experience or a personal unyielding nightmare. The key is to know your own pepper heat tolerance level before you start eating and know what peppers you are about to consume. Checking the Scoville Index before you handle, cook, and consume a pepper is a valuable preventative step. But if you end up in a situation where you feel like you have eaten molten lava, the best course of action is to swill or consume something dairy, and if lactose intolerant, chew on a lemon, some bread or rice, or swill some tomato juice. All these things will help, if not completely stop the excruciating pain and the feeling that your mouth is on fire.

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