The right chillies can bring a delightful flavour and spice to any dish. Depending on the type of chilli you could be dealing with sweetness or third degree burns. I’m personally one to savour a slight burn or enjoy a runny nose, but if you’re here I’m assuming you need a cure and pronto – so skip ahead;
Why the Burn
The cause of the burn that comes from the chilli is the result of a chemical that is found in the oils of the chilli (capsaicin). Capsaicin can sting the skin, eyes, and lungs of all who eat them – which is why we love it!
Fun Fact: High concentrations of capsaicin are found to be lethal to half of the laboratory mice in a test, according to an article on IFLScience!
Your tolerance for spicy foods and your choice of chilli are both to blame for your burning pain.
Ways to Soothe the Burn
Since the dawn of time each culture had their own remedies to curb stinging sensation in their mouth. Pepper heads have tried just about anything you could imagine, here are the do’s and don’ts you need to know;
Drinking a glass of milk after ingesting a hot chilli is often effective in reducing the amount of pain in the mouth and on the tongue. Milk contains a natural animal based chemical known as casein, which breaks down the molecules in the chilli that remain in the mouth and on the tongue. Milk will make the area feel better, but will not remove the entire sensation of heat. Regardless, it is the most effective form of relief from chilli burn.
The scale that measures the amount of heat in a pepper was originally created by measuring the amount of sugar required to break down the oils in the peppers and dilute them. The Scoville scale was created with this method of adding sugar until the heat no longer evident. Next time your hot sauce has you in a bit of a spin try a tablespoon of sugar dissolved in a glass of water.
Even better? A teaspoon of honey will coat the mouth and tongue giving you the longer relief you so desperately need.
Sour Cream (Do)
Much like milk, sour cream contains the chemical casein which breaks up the heat elements of the chilli oils. This is the reason why many of your favourite Mexican dishes (who are we kidding, Nachos!) are served with a dollop of sour cream.
Eating things like rice and bread will help to soak up the capsaicin in the mouth. However unlike our dairy and sugary friends above, starch won’t break down capsaicin making for a longer burn. If this is a stage-five red alert burn, do not swallow the bread! You’ll just be sending that heat further down – and trust me, it won’t be pretty.
‘Science’ is very iffy on this one as the amount of alcohol required to alleviate pain is very much an unknown. What may be helping is the fact that you’re getting drunker – which actually might be a positive. Maybe stay away from this one on a work night!
Yoghurt like it’s dairy counterparts above is a useful cooling agent against the burn due to casein. The fats and oils in the yogurt will take down those crazy chillies and provide you a break from the sting.
Rookie move! This is usually everyone’s first move to douse the flames. While this might be a good idea for the outdoor fire, it’s the exact opposite when it comes to chilli – you’re just adding fuel to the fire! Putting water on a chilli burn is the equivalent of throwing kerosene on a fire. It only succeeds in spreading the heat further and increasing the pain being experienced.
Due to it’s high water content, soda, will just swirl the fire around your mouth and throat – that’s what you wanted right? I wouldn’t rely on Coke’s 9g of sugar to save me!
When it comes to eating hot chilli peppers, beware! These tiny fruits pack a punch (full of flavour and heat). And remember, when in doubt lean on dairy!
Have you got a home remedy that puts out the flames? Let us know in the comments!