Last night I cooked some jalapeños and some other organic hot peppers in my dinner.  I’m in a CSA that ships vegetables direct from a Pennsylvania farm, and the peppers that come from there are about a billion times hotter than anything I’ve bought at the supermarket. In fact, they’re so spicy that most of my fellow CSA members don’t even take them home. They just leave them in the swap box. A few months ago my girlfriend spent four hours dipping her hands in various substances– isopropyl alcohol, milk,  Pepto-Bismol, whiskey, mayonnaise, etc. to try to stop the stinging from one of these little bastards. Capsaicin doesn’t come off easily. It’s really a wonder that we eat these things…

Just removing my contact lenses before bed was a challenge, but at least I didn’t worry about destroying them in the process. Putting contact lenses in is a trickier proposition. Come morning you’d think several hours of sleep, showering, hand washing, etc. would get the capsaicin off,  but no. This morning I was totally unable to put in my daily contact lenses and wasted three trying. My fingers would touch the lens, the lens would touch my eye, and my eyes shot tears out like firehoses. Each lens costs about a dollar and once you get that capsaicin hot pepper oil on it you may as well toss it in the trash.

Here’s my solution to this problem. I am writing this because after I thought of it, I searched for other people’s answers and this one seems simpler than everyone else’s.

Hold out a small stretch of plastic wrap (a.k.a. “cling wrap” or “Saran wrap”) with one hand, dump the lens out onto it with the other, and insert the lens from behind the wrap. You may need to manipulate the lens to the correct position but you can pinch it and move it around by folding the plastic wrap. Any stinging you feel when you get it in is just residual oil from your earlier attempts. This should also work with non-disposable lenses but since there’s oil on them already you’ll probably want to let them soak in solution for a while first (and for the record, I have no idea if that will help). This person came up with a long process involving hydrogen peroxide, which is not something you usually want in your eye, but I suppose it’s fine as long as you rinse the lens in solution afterwards.

You could probably get the lens in wearing rubber gloves, too, but it seems to me the other things you’re doing with the same gloves, e.g. gardening and freelance proctology, will probably have contaminated them, and one eye infection this year was enough for me. Or maybe you’re like me and don’t just keep rubber gloves around. Another minor drawback is that rubber gloves leave their stinky odor and mystery residue on your hands, but that’s still better than hot pepper oil.

I’d also prefer to use something biodegradable, but it can’t be porous. The pepper oil will seep right through like a tau neutrino. There are biodegradable plastic wraps out there, but what if you don’t have it on hand (so to speak)? Well, a banana peel might work if you’re feeling adventurous.

One last note: before you begin this process, it is very important that you do not pour spicy pepper oil all over the plastic wrap. I cannot stress that enough.

For more information on hot peppers consult your local public library.

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