Q: Dear Dave,
I was hoping you could solve a friendly argument about capsaicin—technically about how to best control the burn in your mouth after eating it. I have someone telling me the answer is beer and bread. Although I don’t disagree with the bread part, I do disagree with the beer aspect. I read that all carbonated drinks (including beer) make the burn worse, and that only those with a coating effect such as milk make it better, and water does nothing other than just help for a second or two. As far as the beer I am not talking about the inhibitive effects of the alcohol and how that might block the pain, so let’s say your first beer. I also hear capsaicin is soluble in alcohol (one of his arguments) but beer doesn’t have that much alcohol so that shouldn’t make much difference. Any help/answer would be much appreciated.
A: Hello Josh:
Water, beer, and bread don’t work. Beer, of course, is 95-97 percent water. Dairy products work best because they have casein, which seems to ease the capsaicin receptors after impact with capsaicin. Capsaicin is soluble in alcohol, but hard liquor like tequila does not work. This is probably because 80 proof liquor is 40 percent alcohol and 60 percent…you guessed it, water.