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Soy Sauce to the Rescue to Cool a Burn

You can cool a burn quickly with cold water. Then soak the area in soy sauce to ease the pain and reduce the likelihood of blisters.
Soy Sauce to the Rescue to Cool a Burn
Close up image on classic japanese soy sauce

What do you do for a burn? First aid experts recommend dousing the burned skin in cold water, and so do we. That stops the heat and prevents further damage. However, to cool a burn and ease the pain after applying first aid, reach for unexpected rescue from soy sauce.

Cool a Burn with Soy Sauce:

Q. I grabbed a very large, very hot curling iron by the barrel. Immediately, all four fingertips and the palm directly under the fingers started to swell. The pain was incredible.

Then I remembered your advice about soy sauce and poured a quantity into a pie plate. As soon as I immersed my hand in it, the pain ceased! At first, it looked as if all areas would form blisters, but after additional soakings (at the first sign of discomfort) over the next four hours, there was no further discomfort. A week later, there is no evidence of injury at all. This is just amazing.

Other Readers Report That Soy Sauce Can Cool a Burn:

A. You’re not the first reader to report success with this burn remedy. We have no good explanation for why so many people find that cold soy sauce both eases the pain of a burn and prevents blistering. Of course, any bad burn requires prompt medical attention.

Another reader wrote:

I listened to your public radio show and heard a man call in recommending soy sauce for burns. “How weird is that?” I thought. But then, as I took a loaf of bread out of the oven, the inner edge of my thumb and the fleshy pad underneath hit 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 wish we knew why this home remedy works, but we have heard from several people that it does, including an Army Ranger who told us that U.S. Special Forces medics also used soy sauce for combat-related burns.

Kadriah from Wesley Chapel, FL, reported:

“I have been using soy sauce for years for minor burns for myself and my children. To do this, I soak a cotton ball, or several cotton balls depending on the size of the burn, with soy sauce immediately after getting burned. I keep the burn completely covered until long after the pain is gone. Until yesterday, though, I had only used this remedy on very minor burns without blisters.

“Yesterday, I badly burned 4 of my fingers. They immediately blistered and the skin turned white. I tried the soy sauce anyway. To my amazement, an hour later there were no blisters, NO pain, no damage. The skin where the blisters had been is now a little shiny and I have decreased sensitivity on those areas. It feels slightly numb. The numbness goes away in a few days. This is a miracle cure! Try it for yourself!”

Vail says soy sauce is not right for everyone:

“Oh the irony!! I work at a sushi place, and I’ve noticed over the past while, I had been getting a rash on my hands. After asking my boss and my boyfriend’s mom (who once was a nurse), I realized it was a burn on my hands. I immediately assumed it was from the pickled ginger (I have to submerge my hands in the liquid daily), but, one day I was refilling the soy sauce, and I accidentally splashed myself with it. That spot began to itch like my hands were before they got worse, and the rash, or rather, burn, on my hands was now on that spot on my arm that was splashed by soy sauce. So I did a test. I wiped soy sauce on my left forearm, and pickled ginger liquid on my right forearm. On both I developed the burn. It was the ginger AND the soy sauce that had been burning me. So, unlike soy sauce healing a burn, like it does for everyone else, it actually burnt me!”

If you have experience with soy sauce to cool a burn, tell us about it in the comment section below. Remember, a serious burn requires prompt medical attention!

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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