How to handle hot peppers safely

Sometimes while attending culinary class online, you will cook with some serious spice. We’re talking hot peppers with so much heat they burn your hands if you touch them. We’ve got some tips for handling these delicious veggies and avoiding burning hands:

Wear gloves
We’re not kidding. Ever cut a jalapeño and later forgot and touched your eye? It’s not pleasant. Even after washing your hands with soap and water, you will find that the capsaicin (what makes peppers hot) is still on your skin and can easily be transferred to other places. If you are using peppers that are on the Scoville level with jalapeños or anything higher (serranos, thai, habañeros and others), you will want to use rubber gloves.

Do not wash with hot water
You would think that hot water would be the most effective when it comes to cutting through a pepper’s heat. Instead, the water will actually cause the capsaicin to spread, making it airborne in the steam and more likely to enter your eyes and nose. A stinging nose and throat is not fun, so be sure to use cold water when washing the pepper, cutting board, utensils and your hands.

How to get rid of pepper hands
You’ve accidentally made contact with a hot pepper and you’re not sure how to get that burning feeling to go away. Try these tips to stop the burn (and maybe prevent it from happening):

  • Wash your hands with dish soap. It’s more effective than hand soap.
  • Rub a tiny drop or two of vegetable or olive oil onto your hands.  Coat them with it before cutting peppers to avoid the burning feeling or afterwards to stop it from happening.
  • Try a drizzle of rubbing alcohol or vodka. Alcohol fights the capsaicin and will help you to lessen the pepper’s effect.
  • Whip up a quick paste of water and baking soda. Coat your hands with it and let the mixture dry. Once it becomes hard, wash it off and your hands will be as good as new.

Pay attention
Don’t use your pepper gloves or unwashed hands to send a text message or rifle through the mail. If you do, you are spreading the capsaicin and likely exposing others to the heat. Do not comfort small children or pet household animals immediately after handling hot peppers or they, too, will feel the burn.

Peppers are not a joke
While it may seem funny to trick a friend into eating a hot pepper, it is really not an enjoyable experience. Be responsible. If people want try a hot pepper on their own accord, more power to them. Just make sure they know what they’re getting into.

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