The right chillies can bring a delightful flavour to a dish. Many chillies are sweet and tasty while others are so hot it makes one wonder why they don’t just spontaneously combust on their own. If you are one of the daring who have the fortitude to eat a hot chilli, the burn is sure to follow. The relentless heat of these chillies coat the inside of the mouth and tongue, makes eyes and noses run, and causes the onslaught of profuse sweating. There are a number of different methods and ingredients that connoisseurs use to alleviate the pain involved with chilli burn. However, there is only one sure way to avoid this fiery fate; DO NOT EAT THEM! But, if you insist on consuming these little fireballs, be sure to have a cooling remedy nearby.


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. The amount of heat that is experienced is due to the amount of capsaicin that is present in the pepper. This chemical affects the skin, eyes, and lungs of those who are in contact with or who ingest these peppers. High concentrations of this chemical are found to be lethal to half of the laboratory mice in a test, according to an article on IFLScience! When it comes to humans, the mouth and nose of each person is able to detect irritation and pain when this chemical is present. To get rid of the pain involved with these peppers, there are a number of ways that are effective for relief, and some methods which are no help at all. It is important to know which of these methods are going to put your chilli burn away.


Since the time when people began eating these peppers, they have been on the search for a cure for the heat. Each culture has their own remedies and customs to curb the fire of hot peppers. Chilli pepper eaters have tried a number of different methods of taming the heat that they have to endure after ingesting these chillies. Some of the methods are more successful than others, and some methods should be avoided entirely.


Drinking 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 chemicals of the pepper oils 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 recognized and effective form of relief from chilli burn.


The scale that measures the amount of heat in a chilli 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 from each individual pepper was no longer evident. Therefore, a tablespoon of sugar dissolved in an eight Oz glass of water will offer the pepper eater some relief. A better sugar alternative may be a teaspoon of honey in the mouth. The viscosity of the honey will coat the tongue and interior of the mouth for a long period of time, giving the sufferer longer relief. The natural elements in the honey also help to bind to the capsaicin elements and remove them from the interior of the mouth.


Much like milk, sour cream contains the chemical casein which breaks up the heat elements of the pepper oils. This is the reason that many spicy Mexican dishes are served with a dollop of sour cream to help cut the heat of the peppers. Sour cream contains milk products and therefore the animal fats help to coat and dissolve the heat propellants in the chilli oils.


Eating things like rice and bread will help to soak up the chemicals and the oils that are lingering in the mouth, however, the pain may retain for a length of time. This method does not break down the compound to alleviate the pain from the burn, but it does take some of the heat away. It is advised that the bread be placed in the mouth and moved around to soak up the oils. Do not eat and swallow the bread, rather remove the tainted bread and dispose in the garbage. Swallowing the bread will introduce the oils to your stomach where it will continue to cause discomfort.


The results of testing the sipping a hard liquor after eating hot chilli peppers are tainted at best. Although alcohol does contain properties that will break down the chemicals in the pepper oil, the amount of alcohol required is not an established fact. This test is further tainted, because the more that a person drinks to alleviate the pain from the heat, the drunker they will become. This may cause them to not even care that their mouth and tongue are on fire. That is until the next day, when the chilli peppers make their flaming exit as a reminder of the night before.


Yogurt is a useful cooling agent against the fire of hot peppers. Because this product is animal based, the fats and oils in the yogurt will interact and attach themselves to the active chemicals in the pepper oils in the mouth and provide relief from the pain that the connoisseur experiences. The coolness of the yogurt itself will add another level of minimal relief to the affected area.


After ingesting a pepper and experiencing a chilli burn, many people reach for a big glass of water to douse the flames. This may be effective for a campfire, but it is the absolute opposite when it comes to the heat of a chilli pepper. 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.


The only thing that chugging a soda after experiencing a chilli burn is going to do for you, is make you burp for a long time. There may be a minimal amount of relief from the sugars that are found in most carbonated beverages today. Soda, however, is mostly water and will primarily cause the heat to circulate in your mouth and throat. It is best to avoid grabbing this liquid to put out the fire in your talk box.


When it comes to eating hot chilli peppers, diners beware. These tiny little fruits are full of flavour and packed full of heat. These little bombs of inferno are the cause of crying eyes, runny noses, alleviated body temperatures, searing body heat, and a mouth that can start a campfire. When this situation is at your doorstep, it is important to know how to get relief from the heat immediately. If you decide to take on one of these varieties of peppers, it is best to have a gallon of milk or a willing heifer standing by when the heat hits you with a severe chilli burn.


John Rosato – Chasing Chillies