We love hot sauce. The heat, the flavor, the euphoric feeling you get when you get a dose of some really, really hot food. However, there's a real downside to handling peppers, hot sauces, and spicy food. We call it "the burn": the unintentional burn you get to, well, to very sensitive areas when you forget to wash your hands or didn't wash them well enough.
Forget to wash your hands and then head to the john? Nice dinner and then spending some alone time with your significant other? Not a great idea, unless you like the feeling of hot coals poured on your nether regions.
And don't forget the mistake that just about everyone makes: Don't rub your eyes! Seriously, unless you're trying to relive the nostalgia of those college protests and you just really want to remember how pepper spray felt.
In other words, hot sauce can really, really hurt if not handled with care. Especially with many of the hot sauces on the market today. Anytime a hot sauce is over 100,000 Scoville heat units, you're talking about some serious heat. And some of our sauces (Mad Dog, Dave's, Da' Bomb, etc.) are much hotter than that.
So how do you avoid "The Burn"? Taking some simple precautions will help you, and your partner, avoid any pain and discomfort that can come from your hot sauce addiction.
Yeah, we get it. Gloves are a pain in the ass, and they're kind of nerdy. But if you're preparing hot foods, chopping peppers, making your own hot sauce, or cleaning up an inadvertently spilled or broken hot sauce, bite the bullet and wear some gloves. You'll avoid getting any capsaicin oils on your skin, and you won't need to worry about any of the following steps. Every chef I've worked with respects the peppers they're preparing (even jalapenos) and wear gloves to avoid any unfortunate "incidents".
Capsaicin can be a sneaky devil. It loves to cling to your skin and hide under your nails or in your cuticles. That means that you need to very thoroughly wash your hands after preparing or eating hot foods. We recommend dish soap, and a thick lather, making sure that you get under your nails and between your fingers.
This is our preferred method of avoiding "The Burn". We prefer coconut oil, but vegetable or olive oil could also work in a pinch. Liberally apply your favorite oil over your hands and fingers, then thoroughly wash the oil using dish soap. From our experience, the oil seems to bond with the capsaicin, which then makes it easier to wash off with soap. It also helps to moisturize your skin and smells delish, so it's an added bonus!
Even when using the Coconut Oil and Wash method, sometimes it's not enough. Repeating the process several times is necessary. We received a shipment of hot sauces that had several broken bottles of Mad Dog 357 (357,000 Scoville Heat Units), which I stupidly cleaned up with my bare hands because I didn't have any gloves handy. Not only did my hands immediately feel like I had burned them, but even after numerous washings, I didn't avoid "The Burn". Fully two days later, I rubbed my eyes and got an immediate burn. Apparently the capsaicin had absorbed into my skin and even days later was still an issue.
So what happens if you didn't take the precautions we've talked about and you do get "The Burn" on some sensitive areas? Well, we've heard from our customers that rinsing with milk or even yogurt can help. I'd imagine that soaking in a milk bath (milk added to your bath water) could also help. Again, we haven't tried this, but it can't hurt right? And it's probably great for your skin.
So should you avoid hot sauces and hot peppers? Well, hell no! But taking some simple precautions will help you to avoid any unfortunate discomfort for you or anyone you're touching. Some hot sauces and peppers are just crazy hot, so don't fear your sauce, but have respect for it.
Do you have a remedy that's worked for you? Share it with us in the comments, ping us on social media using the #dochotties hashtag.
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