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Science!: Hot Pepper Juice

November 29, 2008

Tonight, I got hot pepper juice on my fingers.  Yep, the stuff you get from using your fingernails to clean out the seeds; the same sort of stuff you may put on objects that you don’t want your dog to be chewing.  At the moment, I still have hot pepper juice on my fingers, and it is quite excrutiating.

In the interest of being a good sport, though, I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to conduct a few scientific experiments on hot pepper juice, and some substances that one may think of when considering relief or remedy.  With that in mind, I will compile a list of all the remedies I’ve tried – some traditional, some on-the-spot and born out of desparation – and their effectiveness.

Firstly, the classics.

  1. Cool water.  While this does provide temporary relief, as soon as my fingers cease to be immersed in it they’re right back to hurting.
  2. Dairy products (in this case, sour cream).  The coldness does temporarily ease the pain, but again it wears off; the burning oils do not seem to adhere to the cream, although this may be because they’ve worked their way under my fingernails.
  3. Ketchup.  Again, coldness.  Again, wears off.

And now, the other ones I attempted:

  1. Grease-cutting dish soap (both Dawn and Palmolive).  No effect.
  2. Hand sanitizer.  No effect.
  3. Talcum powder.  No effect.
  4. Baking soda.  No effect.
  5. Orange spray cleaner.  No effect.
  6. Trimming my fingernails.  No effect.
  7. Goo Gone.  No effect.
  8. Sunblock.  No effect.
  9. Soap, both glycerin and other.  No effect.
  10. Rigorous cleaning.  No effect.
  11. Hydrogen peroxide.  Intensified symptoms.
  12. Shower.  Intensified symptoms.

All of these (except the shower) caused temporary relief from the change in temperature and/or use of water, but none of them provided the cleansing effect I was looking for.  The shower both caused miserable pain while I was taking it and an intensification of pain afterward.  From this, I conclude that it is basically impossible to get hot pepper juice out of your fingers once it’s there, and your only solution is to use a knife when dealing with hot peppers.

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