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When Hot Peppers Burn

By OldGardener
September 5, 2014

When I am handling hot peppers, I am not always as careful as I should be. After receiving a nasty burn while I was processing peppers that I thought were relatively benign, I went on a quest to find an effective treatment. This is the result.

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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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pirl
Sep 4, 2014 6:54 PM CST
Been there and done that. I was making ultra hot vinegar for a friend who couldn't get anything spicy enough so I was using habanero peppers and other hot ones. I was sure I'd have no evil effects since I was only touching the outside of the pepper. I could not have been more wrong.

At first my hands tingled, then they got warm over the next 30 minutes or so, then scorching hot but no blistering. I made an ice water bath and soaked each hand but upon removing my hands the burn returned so I kept refilling the ice. My poor hands were melting the ice! By bedtime it was still awful and I kept the bowl of ice water on my chest (BRRR!) until I felt really sleepy and then put it on the floor. Each time I'd wake up I'd soak both hands again. By morning they did feel better but I never made that vinegar again!

Why do we always have to learn lessons the hard way?
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
Sep 4, 2014 7:09 PM CST
Ouch! That sounds like it really hurt!!!

I was mostly annoyed at myself. I knew that I had been getting more sensitive to peppers and I was having terrible coughing spells while I was cutting the roasted hot peppers up (lung sensitivity). Next time, I will definitely put gloves on.
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Sep 4, 2014 7:22 PM CST
How about a mask? That would have to help.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Sep 4, 2014 7:54 PM CST
Yikes! I've never had any blistering from peppers, but have had my hands feeling like they were burning even though I used gloves... kind of makes you wonder if we should be eating those things, doesn't it?! Rolling my eyes.

Good article, hope some pepper lovers that haven't already make this mistake will take heed!!
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Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
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Ursula
Sep 5, 2014 12:59 PM CST
Good article!!
I handle Caribbean Red Hots every so often, as a matter of fact I just picked a bunch and pickled them.
I learned long ago never to touch them!! I don't use gloves, but simply cut them with a scissor off the plant on to a bowl/ plate. I usually use a small knife in each hand, cut what needs to be cut while leaving the kitchen fan running. Wash both knives and plate and the scissor immediately under soapy water and throw into the dishwasher.
I find that only one of those hot peppers is sufficient to impart heat and flavor to a whole pot of chili, goulash whatever I am preparing.
I handle other hot peppers similarly/very carefully!!
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
Sep 5, 2014 2:54 PM CST
Ouch! That is a severe reaction. No doubt it is because your contact was prolonged and you didn't notice it early. I don't know of any sure fire cure but down here they do say drinking milk or eating bread helps if you eat too much chile. Also, when they are making the fiery hot sauces that require roasting the chiles they are almost always roasted and ground outside - never in the house. Even outside, I've had my eyes tear up and burn just walking over to watch for a few minutes.
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So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
Sep 5, 2014 5:43 PM CST
pirl said:How about a mask? That would have to help.


I am going to have to try that next time. I was really coughing/choking at one point.
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
Sep 5, 2014 5:49 PM CST
extranjera said: Also, when they are making the fiery hot sauces that require roasting the chiles they are almost always roasted and ground outside - never in the house. Even outside, I've had my eyes tear up and burn just walking over to watch for a few minutes.


I try to always start in the wee hours of the morning as I don't like the idea of exposing everyone else in the house to the fumes (I roast 50-60% of the peppers when I make up thai paste and, depending on the peppers I am using, they can get potent). I was coughing/choking last time at one point so I understand why they only process outdoors where you live. I am going to try a mask next time to see if that helps but if it doesn't, I may have to move it all outdoors. Fortunately, I probably won't have to make a new batch until next year as I made 4 pounds of paste this time.
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
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extranjera
Sep 5, 2014 6:17 PM CST
I don't know but it couldn't be good for your lungs so maybe consider moving it to a BBQ or gas ring outside. I can tell when the lady next door is making chile seco as the smell is strong even in my yard. It's good stuff though and I'll bet your Thai paste is fabulous!
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
Sep 6, 2014 11:22 AM CST
That is a great idea. I have played with the idea of using some smoked peppers, too, so this would be the perfect excuse to do so Big Grin
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Sep 6, 2014 4:30 PM CST
Thank You! OldGardener for sharing your research and experience with us!
I love to eat them, and have also learned (the hard way):
Bigger ones--I roast them outside, hold my breath when I have to get in there to turn them or adjust something, 'sweat' them in a paper bag and double glove to peel and de-seed! I love them best fresh, but I freeze the bulk of them after roasting and then peel and de-seed under running water as I use them and that's pretty slick. The little ones--I dehydrate in the well-ventilated garage and grind, also in the garage, with a full-on-hard-core, facemask/respirator Hilarious!
Many years ago I spent a miserable night with buttermilk filled plastic bags rubber-banded and duct-tapped around my wrists--that helped my hands well enough, but I couldn't breathe in and that was a serious problem.
I'll bet that WD-40 and goop would have worked! I had that and diesel too, but it didn't occur to me to use a solvent or an astringent. I don't plan to take any chances to be without gloves again, but never say never I guess--Thank You, again!

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