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Yesterday I did something wrong when adding some pepper flakes into an extremely hot pan with oil. The air around me instantly got spicy, and everyone standing in my kitchen or within its vicinity started tearing up and coughing. I believe I inadvertently created a pepper spray effect, and my nose and throat began to sting. Is there something I can ingest or do to relieve the pain immediately? Is there something I can apply inside my nostrils to alleviate the burning sensation?

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  • Did the oil spray pepper oils around your nose? Also how much is "some pepper flakes"? Aug 10 at 18:58
  • @CaptainGiraffe about a TSP worth of red chili pepper flakes into the extremely hot oil in a skillet. I don't believe any of the oil went into my nose but the flumes that I breathed in WoW burned!
    – Chris Nace
    Aug 10 at 19:10
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    Ok, I'm not writing a full answer but this is not unexpected with really a hot pan. Your pepper flakes will act popcorn-like to some extent. Yogurt is relieving for hot sensations in your mouth. Aug 10 at 19:18
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I get the same situation repeatedly when preparing stir fry. Fragrant dry spices (like red pepper flakes) intensify in flavor when roasted in hot oil for a short (!) amount of time, lest they burn.

To circumvent the peppery air that can be quite unpleasant if you're not used to it, you could:

  • not add pepper flakes or other highly aromatic compounds into hot oil at all, but toss them in later with other ingredients that "catch" them, or omit them completely (if you want spiciness that's a bit of a useless answer though)
  • reduce the temperature of your skillet to medium heat or so; not really that good an answer if you are cooking a wok-style meal that needs the intense heat to quickly fry stuff
  • turn up your exhaust hood to the maximum; additionally, open a window in your kitchen
  • gas mask ;-)

But I am not aware of anything that can really draw the peppery vapors out of the air in your kitchen.

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