The People's Perspective on Medicine

What Can You Do for a Kitchen Burn?

First aid for a kitchen burn is cooling it under running tap water. Then, consider soy sauce, yellow mustard or vanilla unless it is too severe.

A kitchen burn or other minor household burn is painful. They usually cause redness and sometimes blistering. Cold water is the standard first aid recommendation. In fact, cold tap water is just the right temperature to stop tissue damage (Wound Repair and Regeneration, Sep-Oct. 2008). Experts recommend holding the burned area under cold water for at least 20 minutes, but even 10 minutes can be helpful (Burns, Aug. 2010). Needless to say, severe burns require immediate emergency medical attention.

Home Remedies for a Kitchen Burn:

The great thing about home remedies for mild burns is that you know instantly whether they are working. Either the pain goes away, or it doesn’t. Many readers also report that the redness and blistering may be prevented.

Soy Sauce:

One of the most surprising approaches to a minor kitchen burn is soy sauce. We first heard about this remedy more than a decade ago. A listener called in to our radio program to describe his experience.

Then we heard from a reader:

“On your public radio show I 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 have since heard from lots of readers and listeners that soy sauce can prevent redness and blistering and ease the pain from a kitchen burn. An Army Ranger told us that U.S. Special Forces medics also use soy sauce for combat-related burns. We haven’t seen any research on soy sauce for treating burns, but materials scientists are working with soy proteins to develop new wound dressing materials (Burns, Nov. 2015).

Yellow Mustard:

Another popular home remedy for a kitchen burn is right in the refrigerator: cold yellow mustard.

One reader told us:

“During a power outage, I burned four fingers while removing hot glass from a kerosene lantern. I first used cool water, then soy sauce without much relief. I quickly went to your website and searched for burns. I found the mustard remedy.

“I put on a sterile plastic glove and squirted yellow mustard in the fingers and left this on for an hour. Immediate relief!”

We were astonished to read this dramatic testimonial:

“I was an orderly in a hospital emergency room in 1969. One evening we had a teen-aged boy come to the ER with his employer from a fast food restaurant. He had inadvertently grabbed for a falling French fry basket, and his arm was submerged in the frying machine. His boss lathered his arm with mustard, wrapped it in saran wrap and brought him in. We anticipated the worst, but once the mustard was washed off, the skin was barely even pink. We were all amazed. I’m a believer ever since that day.”

Other Home Remedies for a Kitchen Burn:

Other remedies that readers have found helpful include vinegar, aloe vera, white school glue and vanilla extract (especially artificial vanilla extract, aka vanillin). None of these home remedies has ever been tested in a scientific manner. But if the pain disappears quickly and the skin does not redden or blister, it seems worth a try as long as the burn is not too serious. It bears repeating: a severe burn requires emergency medical treatment!

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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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I have used rubbing alcohol on burns since I saw a YouTube video about it. Originally I thought it was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. But months later I got a burn on my finger from my curling iron, and I remembered the alcohol remedy. I decided to try it so I poured it straight from the bottle onto my finger, and lo and behold, it immediately took away the pain. It didn’t even blister. I was sold on this weird remedy and have used it ever since.

Very interesting! I had sworn by honey for burns for years. Always tried to get kids to let me marinate them when they had sun burn, but they refused.;) I have found that grapefruit seed extract works even quicker. I always keep it for mouth pain. 3 drops in 3 ounces of water. Swish and swallow. It always needs diluting except for burns. Then I put it on straight. Pain disappears, and no blister within a few mins.

I have always used cider vinegar on my Burns but this takes a longer time if you have really hurt yourself like using boiling water from the microwave. This took an overnight soaking in a plastic bag while I tried to sleep to stop the pain and keep the blistering away. I had read the Clorox was good for burns along with soy sauce and one day I burnt my hand on a hot pan from the oven and grabbed the soy sauce pored over my burn and had immediate relief. I will try the mustard solution the next time I burn myself. Using flour is an interesting solution also. Aloe vera did not do a thing for me so it looks like it depends on the person and their body chemistry.

I’m surprised no one has mentioned honey for burn relief. It works like magic.

The oil from a Vitamin E capsule is the best treatment I have ever found for burns (though I would never use this if the skin was already open). I once had my HEATED iron fall from the ironing table onto my upper arm (I was below it trying to free up the cord!). I rushed to the kitchen, got my Vitamin E capsules, snipped the ends off, and slathered the entire burn with the oil. This begins to relieve the burning sensation as well, though it may take some minutes with a really bad burn like this one. (It was almost immediately possible to see the whole outline of the iron itself and even the vents of the iron!) I repeated this as needed for about 15-20 minutes, and then went on with my day (with my sleeve rolled up and the oil still on the burn for the next hour or two). There was never even any subsequent blistering!! It is wonderful for any burn you might get in the kitchen, so I just keep it on hand there. It has “saved the day” many a time.

I swear by white flour for kitchen burns. Immediately put regular, white, baking flour on the burned area. Just leave it on for awhile. It will immediately take care of small burns. Of course, for a severe burn, seek medical attention. The flour is as amazing as soy sauce or mustard.

For a kitchen burn, which is usually a finger or my wrist (from bumping the oven shelves), I run cold water over ice cubes held to the burned finger or wrist. I know official first aid standards advise against ice, but it works for me.

I grabbed a cast iron pan from a 350 degree oven (it had a casserole in it and was finished cooking) with my bare hand – let go pretty quickly but the palm burned badly. Soaked in it a bowl of organic apple cider vinegar until the burned feeling went away. No blistering – not even red. Since then I use vinegar on burns all the time. It works – for me, at any rate!

Add Arnica gel to the list. Slather it on quickly. Repeat if it throbs. No blistering.

Bach Rescue Cream. Magic in a tube! Available online and at health food stores. As with any energy medicine this works best when used very promptly.

In my kitchen I keep a small potted aloe vera. For any burn, we cut a small piece , split it, apply it, and usually we never see a blister!! I can’t imagine a kitchen without aloe vera!!

I had a severe burn from hot coffee. We were in the mountains, hours away from cold water or any medical care. When we got back, I just loaded the area with aloe vera gel, purchased in a drug store. Whenever I felt pain, I put more aloe gel on it. In a couple of hours all pain subsided, and there was no redness or blistering.

Egg white has worked for us with burns as well as sunburns. Separate the egg white from the yolk; stir it up a bit; soak burn or slather on sunburn. For a sunburn, rub it on and let it dry, and then apply more and leave it overnight. For a burn, soak in egg white then try to cover with egg white-soaked wrap.

Many folks use Lidocaine patches for muscle and/or joint pain and shingles. They are 5% Lidocaine in the prescription form. The Lidocaine is suspended in a cooling gel. I have placed strips of these over severe burns, and the effect is amazing!
The gel keeps the skin hydrated while the Lidocaine INSTANTLY eases the pain. Left on for 24+ hours, I found it removes easily, and evidence of the burn is nearly gone!

Very interesting and possibly helpful in future should I need it. Thank you.
I’ve also have heard that egg whites help. Do you know anything about this?

I got a bad burn removing boiling water from the microwave. I ran cold water on it, then grabbed an ice pack from the freezer and held it for 1/2 hour or so (I know it was longer than recommended). My hand still hurt, so after checking your suggestions, I slathered the hand in aloe vera (for sunburn relief). I loosely wrapped the hand in washcloths to keep the goop off of my clothes. At bedtime I again slathered the hand in aloe vera and wrapped it in clean washcloths to keep the goop off the bedding. The pain had gone away from the first use of aloe vera. By the next morning my hand was completely normal, not even a sign of redness or swelling or soreness.

It worked.

My boyfriend was using the blender for pureeing hot soup. He twisted the base the wrong direction and covered his hand with hot liquid. I ran his hand under cold water, and it still “throbbed” when he removed it from under the faucet. I poured soy sauce over it. The next morning, we were unable to see any evidence of a burn–no blistering, no redness, and no tenderness.

Soy sauce actually made my burn worse, maybe because it was the low sodium variety.
I swear by cold mustard. It’s like a burn eraser

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