A chile's taste-temperature comes from capsaicin (cap-say-i-sin), a compound found primarily in its veins. Other hot spots are where the seeds and flesh touch the veins. As chiles ripen and develop more flavor, they may seem smoother or sweeter, but they're still hot. Approach with caution.
When handling chiles (fresh or dried), don't let them touch your skin. Wear rubber gloves or hold chiles with the tines of a fork, then trim with a small, sharp knife.
If chiles burn your skin, rinse the area with rubbing alcohol. If juice sprays into your eyes or you touch your eyes with capsaicin-coated hands, rinse eyes well with water.
Chopping lots of fresh hot chiles? Work in a ventilated area. Otherwise your chest may tighten or you'll cough.
To soothe a burning tongue, try ice cream, milk, or yogurt. All lower the surface temperature of your tongue and contain casein, which washes away the capsaicin.