close up image on classic japanese soy sauce, ease burn with soy sauce

Q. It sounds crazy, but your website really helped in an emergency. I heated spaghetti rings in the microwave for two minutes.

I spilled the stuff on my hand getting it out of the microwave. It felt like it was on fire! So I held a wet paper towel with ice on the hand for about an hour.

It was still burning really bad, so I searched online and saw soy sauce for burns on your site. Man, as soon as I poured it on I felt relief! It cooled the on-fire feeling right away. Thank you.

A. When we first heard about using soy sauce for minor household burns we were skeptical. Then a reader shared this:

“I listened to your public radio show and heard a man call in recommending soy sauce for burns. I thought it sounded weird. Then I took a loaf of bread out of the oven and hit my thumb on the metal rim of the pan. I expected a painful burn. Since I had nothing else at hand, I decided to try the soy sauce remedy.

“The pain eased up in less than a minute, the soreness did not materialize and even the redness went away! It may be weird, but it certainly did work.”

We have since heard from many readers who have had success with this remedy. A serious s deserves immediate medical attention.

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  1. Tom

    We have a large, heavy duty wood burning stove that we have enjoyed for 20 years on cold winter days here in north Texas. However, last night I had a dreadful accident, tripping into the stove past the point of balance. I had no choice but to grab the flue with my right hand to avoid my face hitting it. Then, I had to put the heel of my left hand on top of the 220 degree horizontal surface to avoid a worse disaster. The flue was much hotter, probably well over 400 degrees. Contact was 2 to 3 seconds.
    I spent the next 6 hours with my hands in ice. At 3am, the pain finally subsided enough to go to sleep. Before that, I couldn’t remove my hands from the ice for more than 2 seconds without excruciating pain. Besides the ice, I also applied triple antibiotic with pain reliever every 30 minutes or so.
    When I finally got to work at 11 am, my boss said to try soy sauce. We had 1 small packet at the office, so I rubbed it on my right hand, which was by far the worst injury. I noticed an immediate cooling effect. My wife had a bottle of soy sauce waiting when I got home, and I folded up a paper towel and soaked it. I’m sitting here with it strapped to my palm with a rubber band. It’s been an hour and a half, and the cooling result is still effective.
    She told me her daughter had spilled hot soup on her face and chest one time, and that they had heard of this remedy and tried it. The daughter told me it not only relieved pain, but the healing was fast. As backup, I am applying zinc oxide. Will try to give progress report in a day or two.

  2. sel

    I spilled hot gravy on my hand and the pain was excruciating. I ran it under cold water, while my son suggested trying the soy sauce; I did, and the pain seemed to diminish quite a bit. Next day I had blisters, but the pain was gone!

  3. Elaine

    Several years ago I happened to come across the soy sauce remedy via People’s Pharmacy article in the local paper. Luckily we always have large quantities of soy sauce in the house. Since that day, any time I’ve burned myself in the kitchen I immediately grab the jar of soy sauce and start pouring like there’s no tomorrow. Never have I been disappointed! In my experience I find that using the sauce first (instead of cold water) takes the pain away faster. There was only one time when I developed a blister and later a scar, but I figure I “earned that badge of honor”. At least there was no lingering pain involved as in the past. ;o)
    Just last night while stir frying I decided to taste a green bean…didn’t realize just how hot it was considering it was only in the wok a very short time…and I burned the (insert string of cuss words here) out of my bottom lip. I quickly grabbed a large spoon, filled it with soy sauce and “soaked” my lip for a minute or two. I thought for sure I’d have a blister by morning. Nope. Everything is hunky dory and I was happy to be able to kiss my husband goodnight. Thank you many times over, People’s Pharmacy!

  4. thutter

    burned my arm on the oven… held an ice cube over the small nickle sized burn… then remembered these ‘soy sauce’ remedies… so I poured soy sauce over the small nickle sized burn… now I have 2nd degree burns the exact size of the ice cube…. perfectly square!… I have since found out that ice on a burn actually keeps the heat inside the skin and adding the soy sauce burned my skin exactly where the ice cube was… my burn was only minor and after ice and soy sauce I have a major burn… your readers should know this… I only used the soy sauce because I read your column… now instead of a minor burn, I have a second degree burn… ouch
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Never put ice directly on a burn. The best first aid is cool running water. Soy sauce should only be applied after that.

  5. pek

    Didn’t use the double-ply side of the potholder [doh!] when taking a cast iron skillet out of the oven and burned my palm.
    First ice, then soy sauce; poured it onto a paper towel and held it in my fist for about a 1/2 hour. Really soothed the pain.
    The next day no blister, no pain, just a little redness. Two days later, there’s nothing.

  6. SJ

    I tried the baking soda after badly burning my thumb and index finger on a hot pan. Blistered up while running under cold water. I put the cold water in a bowl to soak and used my other hand to search your website for a cure. Tried the soy sauce with no success, but was amazed with the baking soda. When reading that solution, I thought that it was a good idea. Baking Soda has so many uses. Made a paste with water and packed it on my hand. About 30 minutes later the severe pain began to decline. I still have blisters and some pain, but minor compared to how severe the burn is. Thank you!

  7. HBM

    I was interested to read the column this morning about treating burns with soy sauce. One morning as I was getting ready to go to work, I neglected to look down, and picked up my heated curling iron by the wrong end. I had a burn all across my palm. I immediately put cold water on it and patted baking soda all over it. The burning sensation went away almost at once and I never got a blister. I have used this remedy many times since on much smaller burns with the same results. So, if you don’t have soy sauce handy you can try this method.
    I always read your column in the Tuesday edition of the Orlando Sentinel and find the information people send in interesting and helpful.

  8. PJ

    Would soy sauce work on a bad sunburn? I’m careful in the sun now, but had many blistering sunburns as a child before sunscreen. I used Noxzema, which needed to be reapplied often.

  9. Leigh

    I also had read about soy sauce for burns here on PP. While cooking I touched the heating element of my oven with the pad of my thumb, it was 400 degrees. I heard the sizzle and smelled the burning flesh and saw that the skin looked grey like ash, I put it under cold water then remembered the soy sauce remedy, I poured some on, let it sit and poured more on, the pain stopped, I left the sauce on and put a bandaid over it, and continued preparing food. Hours later when I took the bandaid off, the skin wasn’t even blistered, the next day the skin was just dry and cracked looking but never came off. I was amazed!

  10. Paul43

    I too have heard about this remedy

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