Habanero in your eye? Use your hair to make it all better (Yes, really)

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Habaneros are some of the hottest peppers in the store. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Habaneros are some of the hottest peppers in the store. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Habaneros are some of the hottest peppers in the store. Photo by Addie Broyles.

We’ve been talking about salsa today, in this DIY story with recipes and this salsa taste test, but I forgot to mention in the story about how to deal with the capsaicin-laced hands that you’ll inevitably get playing in this space.

I use the plastic bag that my newspaper comes in (Don’t get a newspaper delivered to your house every day? Let’s fix that), which I put on my left hand to hold the peppers that I cut with a knife in my right hand.

It’s not as efficient as using actual rubber gloves, which is what the professionals use. My salsa-making friend Hector, who posts amazing food pics on Instagram as @mexicanity, sent me his best tips, straight from his Mexican mama:

You need lime juice and salt. Period. Cut a lime, squeeze it in your fingers and wash rubbing your hands with the salt. It can be any kind of salt. This breaks the chile oil and clears you up.

What to do if you have chile residue in your eye? This is going to sound weird, but rub hair in the eye. I can assure you, it works. When alone, I keep a small bundle of my hair available for situations like this when I have no one to help me by rubbing their hair in my eye. The oils in the hair somehow break the pain.

Lastly, everyone says that milk will help when you are enchilado (“wrapped up in the chiles”) or you ate something too spicy. Here’s the easiest way: Chew on a lime. Hector recommends the whole lime, but I’d suggest just a slice, but make sure there’s skin in there so that the zest will release those citrus oil and break the pain.


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