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Say, for example, I eat a very spicy jalapeno and I have a burning sensation in my mouth and throat.

Are there any foods or drinks to wash that away?

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If we're going to close this as a dupe (i voted since someone else has now), we should update the main question & answer to be more general than hands. –  hobodave Aug 7 '10 at 22:05
    
Sugar. I just don't know how to fluff that up into a full blown answer. –  Preston Fitzgerald May 27 at 8:16
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8 Answers

up vote 26 down vote accepted

The chemical responsible for "the burn" is Capsaicin. The main reason you and everyone else has trouble with the lingering burning sensation is that it's not water soluble (which means it doesn't dissolve in water). So, flooding your mouth with water-based liquids doesn't loosen up those Capsaicin molecules on your tongue and throat.

Like @Iuls says, the most common and effective relief comes from full-fat milk or cream. That's because, while Capsaicin isn't able to be dissolved by water, it is fat soluble. It's also why more than a few people have been upset that the "milk solution" didn't work, when they tried it with skim milk.

If you're looking for a more "fun" solution, it's worth noting that Capsaicin is also alcohol soluble, which might explain all of that tequila and beer they sell at Mexican restaurants.

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Aside from Milk or fatty drinks as an option, there are two other good options:

  1. Hot tea or hot coffee. (Hot water will modestly dissolve oils to an extent and it will also make any saturated fats holding the pepper oils more liquid again.)

  2. Anything alcoholic. The more potent, the better. Alcohol is both attracted to water and oils, so it will dissolve the pepper oils and then mix with the water and wash it down your throat. Beer works well, but wine or a mixed drink will do you better. Plus you'll be happier after a few drinks.

Combining all 3 options, I think a hot coffee with Baileys would probably do you best. (Hot, fatty, and alcoholic!)

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Here's some culture-specific answers:

If the hot and spicy foot you're eating is Turkish, take the dairy approach. Nothing is better than ayran. It's a traditional drink of yoghurt with water, sometimes a bit of salt too. If you're in Turkey many cheap places even have specially priced offers of a spicy meal and a drink of ayran.

If it's spicy Korean food you're eating, dairy products are not traditional at all. Instead my Korean friends suggest the alcohol approach. The standard strong Korean alcohol, available at just about every restaurant, is soju (Korean 소주). It's similar to vodka though not as strong and a little sweeter.

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Suck on a lemon(Or a Lime).

Just like the others say, water doesn't work. Fatty or greasy things do help. Also, for some reason very sour foods, such as pure lemon juice can provide some relief (Though you may prefer milk or beer).

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A cold Cola works very well. I guess a Pepsi would also do the trick.

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From personal experience, I can say this is not a good idea. It tends to make it worse for me. –  Corey Aug 7 '10 at 17:22
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Perhaps the acidity in the cola makes it work better than water. Not really sure. –  Mnebuerquo Aug 9 '10 at 20:30
    
My experience is that the intensity of the spice increases for some seconds and then it feels better afterwards. Cola is definitive the best I have tried for spicy food. –  grm Aug 9 '10 at 20:32
    
No, it's the sugar that helps. The carbonation just makes it worse. –  Preston Fitzgerald May 27 at 8:05
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Personally, I find that beer does the job (or maybe I just forget the heat).

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+1 and beer tastes sweet after something burning... :-) –  nalply Aug 7 '10 at 16:41
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Dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt are very good at relieving spiciness. Bread also is very good.

Avoid watery items which don't actually help, and can often make it feel worse because it helps spread the spiciness around

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Full fat milk soothes the burn.

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Yup, nothing does it like milk. –  KdgDev Aug 6 '10 at 21:02
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