The goggles, they do nothing!

Hand on Fire I was making some Pepper Jelly (a.k.a. Fire Jam a.k.a. Sweet, Sweet Napalm) this weekend, which is a sweet jam with bits of chiles thrown in for flavor and heat. Super tasty, and good fun to make. This time, instead of using the food processor for chopping, I figured it would be a good time to practice my knife skills. After all, there's no way to get better with the knife if you don't practice, and this was certainly a large number of chiles I was chopping. Adding to the excitement of the story, I was out of powder-free rubber/vinyl gloves, and I didn't feel like running to the store to get some.

You see, capsaicin, the molecule that makes chiles hot, isn't just hot on your tongue, though that's certainly one of the easiest places to detect it. I had mostly been concerned in the past about touching my eye after cutting chiles, as the eye is also a very capsaicin-sensitive organ. I figured I could be careful for a while, until the capsaicin wore off. However. After an hour or so of chopping chiles, discarding the seeds, and generally being around lots and lots of capsaicin, I discovered that the skin is also somewhat sensitive to it. And now my fingers are a little warm, and very heat-sensitive.

Warm fingers and heat sensitivity, in and of itself, is not so bad. What is bad is that, when I went to bed last night, suddenly the body has nothing to pay attention to but warm fingers. And suddenly those warm fingers aren't just a little toasty, but instead feel as though they are being pressed against a live burner element. Which is not conducive to sleep. As you may imagine.

Oh, and let me assure you that any folk remedy for removing the burn of the chiles from your hand will. Not. Work. The following items are going to fail your hopeful heart:

  • Soaking in milk

  • Washing with soap and water

  • Washing with grease-cutting liquid soap

  • Bleach-based cleansing products

  • Laundry-strength bleach

  • 99 Proof or weaker alcohol products

  • Burn cream

  • Moisturizer

  • Cortizone cream



And, indeed, some of these items may just make it worse. So, from now on I will take the 15 minutes out of my day and go to the store for gloves if I don't have them. I heartily recommend that you do the same. And, for those who are wondering, the title of this entry is a quote from an episode of The Simpsons.