Q. I was an unwitting guinea pig in an unplanned experiment involving soy sauce. Two days ago I foolishly stuck a mug into the microwave to heat up some lukewarm coffee. I had forgotten that mug has a metal glaze and is not intended for microwave use.

When I grabbed it, the handle was extremely hot and I burned my fingers badly. I remembered your suggestion to get the burn under cold water immediately and then coat it with soy sauce. This worked surprisingly well and within moments there was no discomfort and no blister.

Half an hour later, however, I realized that I had also burned the back of one finger that had touched the mug. It developed an impressive blister, even though it initially seemed much less severe. I had overlooked this area and had not treated it. I am now a believer that cold water and soy sauce can keep a burn from blistering.

A. Thanks for sharing your success. We have heard from other readers that ice-cold water followed by soy sauce can ease the pain of a kitchen burn.

Join Over 52,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. MS
    Reply

    I can recommend this treatment. I burnt my fingers in molten sugar one night whilst making toffee. The pain was unbearable and I had left them under cold running water for half an hour without relief. I started googling and tried tomato sauce (no good) egg white (my burns were still so hot the whites started to cook) and then came across the soy sauce suggestion. It didn’t happen instantly but the next morning I couldn’t even tell where it had burnt. Amazing.

  2. ML
    Reply

    I remembered hearing about this option on the radio, and when I burned myself this afternoon, I tried it and it worked!! Wow — it was much better than anything else I’ve ever tried previously!

  3. Leah P
    Reply

    Last night was frying chicken and when i flipped the chicken with a fork it flopped and feel causing it to splash on my face, neck, chest, and arm. I remembered hearing soy sauce works really well for burns. So I tried it. It worked wonders, I was so impressed. It took the pain right out. Even on the places where the sun doesn’t shine where your skin is a little sensitive. I have barely any markings from the hot grease and not one blister!!! Here’s to SOY SAUCE!! It really does work!!

  4. Clairebear
    Reply

    I keep our soy sauce in the refrigerator, its already cool when we need it for burns in our home… it immediately reduces the pain and so far we’ve never blistered.

  5. bozo
    Reply

    I just tried the soy sauce for a burned finger after someone said that the military experimented with this. I touched an ultra hot burner–one of those used to boil water fast–and immediately started running cold water on it. Then I remembered the soy sauce. I immersed my finger in a little cup of it and kept it there while watching TV. I went to bed with the little cup next to me (I know) and in the morning, I didn’t even have a blister. On another note, My grandmother used to put cider vinegar on my sunburns when I was small. She said it was to relieve the itching.

  6. SongFrog (DMB)
    Reply

    Add me to the growing list of believers. This evening I grabbed onto the metal handle of a saute pan, having forgotten that I had just removed it from a 400 degree oven. The searing pain reminded me instantly. I was stunned for a moment, but then I remembered hearing on The Peoples Pharmacy about soy sauce as a burn treatment.
    After running cold water on the burn for a few moments, I soaked a paper towel with soy sauce and held onto it tightly. That didn’t help much, so I poured soy sauce directly onto the burn. The relief was immediate, but short-lived. Fortunately, I had a rather large jug of soy sauce, which I then emptied into a deep bowl. After adding a few ice cubes, I plunged my hand into the soothing liquid. I was amazed at how quickly it relieved the pain. Now, some five hours later, I am even more amazed, because the burned area in the palm of my hand, which I’m sure was severely damaged at first, appears barely affected, with only a little tenderness. I am completely convinced that my hand would have blistered had I not applied the soy sauce, but, of course, I can offer no actual proof.
    On my next visit to my local warehouse store, I’m going to buy another institutional-size bottle of soy sauce and keep it in my medicine cabinet as treatment for household burns.
    Full disclosure: I also applied some aloe-based first-aid cream to the affected hand. However, it was the soy sauce that mitigated the burning sensation on contact. The aloe cream seemed to have only an emollient effect.
    Salt? Soy? I don’t care what the active ingredient is. It works!

  7. Stacey
    Reply

    I remembered reading about this remedy and I really needed it today. I burned three fingers in a pot of boiling water. The first thing I did was run them under cold water for almost 10 minutes and then soaked them in a small bowl of soy sauce for about 5-7 minutes. The sting and pain came back only twice and both times I just ran my hand under cold water again for a minute. The last time, the pain went away and came back for a couple of minutes and then was gone for good. And absolutely no blisters or red skin 5 hours later. Amazing!
    I think that the salt in the soy sauce is the magic ingredient. And because it’s a liquid, the skin can absorb it more easily than it would if you sprinkled table salt or sea salt on the burn.
    This was extremely effective.

  8. cb
    Reply

    I have never used soy sauce but I have used apple cider vinegar with the same affect- although you smell like a pickle afterwards! My dad told me about this remedy and it works well for sunburns also- I use a cloth soaked in apple cider vinegar and put it on my sun burn. My brother in law got burned with sparklers one 4th of July and we made him put on apple cider vinegar (a towel soaked in it) he kept it on for about an hour and all the pain and redness was gone- no blistering whatsoever.

  9. wen
    Reply

    I have used soy sauce on my burned fingers numerous times, and it worked every single time. I always use an ice pack to cool the burn spot immediately for a few seconds, then pour the soy sauce on paper towel or napkin to wrap around the burn spots. (It’s easier than soaking, and you can move around continue your other chores!) Apply ice pack again on and off the spot for the next half hour or so (to the extend that your skin can tolerate it, do not keep the ice pack on for more than 10 min at a time.)
    For me, it works even for secondary burns – a few times I could see where the blister would have formed but in the end there was no raised bump, nor fluids under the skin. But you can see a discolored, whitish patch. My theory is that the sodium in soy sauce dried up the fluids and the ice reduced the inflammation and pain. If you are concerned about infection, clean your skin and apply antibiotic ointment.

  10. Francisco
    Reply

    I took an all metal pan out of the oven (400F) and put it on the counter..a minute later I went to move things around and grabbed it by the handle. I ran my hand under cold water then dipped my hand in soy sauce and felt immediate relief. I left it there for some time and later that night the pain was gone and no blisters or pain except for one small spot I didn’t dip in the soy sauce? Does anyone know why this works?

  11. Slowbaker
    Reply

    Does anyone know if the Soy Sauce remedy works a day later? Just wondering. Seems like it worked when used immediately after the burn.

  12. Matt
    Reply

    I swear by this treatment now, and have used it with gobsmacking success on several occassions.
    Something very important to bear in mind:
    FOR THIS TREATMENT TO WORK YOU NEED TO BATHE THE BURN IN THE SOY SAUCE.
    JUST RUBBING OR DRIBBLING SOME ON WILL HAVE LITTLE TO NO EFFECT.
    SAY THE BURN IS ON THE TIP OF YOUR FINGER: POUR SOME SAUCE INTO AN EGG-CUP AND IMMERSE THE FINGER INTO IT.
    LEAVE IT THERE FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE – THE LONGER, THE BETTER, BELIEVE ME.

  13. Aaron
    Reply

    I had a burn a couple days ago from a very hot place. I rinsed it in cold water and put soy sauce on it, and it quit hurting within a minute or two. Today there is a scarred place on my finger but it doesn’t hurt at all.

  14. g
    Reply

    I’m a believer, didn’t even use the cold water as it would now seem I should have. Hand burned by pan handle, then immediate recollection of this crazy soy sauce remedy, and 2 hrs later could not have even known I burned myself. Should’ve pledged that Sat. morning I heard of this, Ha. Thanks

  15. Tammy
    Reply

    I tried the soy sauce on a burn tonight. I bumped the oven rack and burnt the back of my hand. I ran it under cold water, and then applied soy sauce. It didn’t seem to help, I don’t know if age has anything to do with it or not, the soy sauce was pretty old. I reapplied the soy sauce, but it still didn’t help. I now have a red mark and small blister.

  16. Allan Dixon
    Reply

    I had never heard of this until my girlfriend used soy sauce on a mild burn. We then had a disagreement on how to handle burns on children. My view has always been to run the burn under cold water to take the heat out then not to cover it. Can someone tell me: 1) What is the medical evidence supporting this theory, 2) should salt be used with soy sauce and, 3) should burn be put under cold water first? I presume this is only for mild first degree burns.

  17. JK
    Reply

    I told someone that she should put soy sauce on her burn and she told me that she had burnt herself before in the kitchen and someone suggested it. When she put the soy sauce on the burn it got swollen and hurt more than before. She said it was something to do with the salt.

  18. Vicki B
    Reply

    I too have tried the lavender oil. Tea tree oil also seems to work as I could not quickly locate the lavender oil and substituted. Next time I will try the cold water/soy sauce routine. Thanks!

  19. C.M.
    Reply

    After reading this on your site, the other day I burned myself taking something out of the oven. I immediately ran cool water over it and applied the soy sauce- then repeated with the soy sauce a few minutes later. The pain stopped soon and later on that evening, did something and realized I had no pain on the burned area at all- I’m a believer in this now!! Thanks for the info.

  20. E in WV
    Reply

    I have used the essential oil Lavender for the same purpose with the same results. While perhaps not as readily available in your household, it smells great and you can get this product at any store that sells essential oils (health food stores often have a section with these oils). When I burn myself in the kitchen I grab my bottle of oil and dab some on the burn. I don’t even run my skin under cold water first. It works just as well as Soy Sauce is described to work.

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.