The safest way to cut chilies without setting your skin on fire is to cut them while wearing rubber or latex gloves. If you don't have any in your home, rubbing on a good coating of vegetable oil can do the trick instead.
Photo by James Wade.
The vegetable oil tip comes to us by way the Helium, a community all about ethnic and international food. The reason this works is simple: capsaicin, the chemical that makes chilie peppers hot and spicy foods spicy, is soluble in oil and fat. That's why everyone suggests you drink a glass of milk if you've eaten something really spicy and want to soothe the burn.
Vegetable oil is essentially fat, and rubbing your hands with it prior to chopping up and handling your chilies can help cut an otherwise agonizing burn. It may not be enough, so make sure you have some more standing by: it can help relieve the burn after the fact as well. Just be careful with your knife when your hands are covered in oil. Do you like making or eating spicy foods? How do you soothe the burn? Share your tips in the comments.
How to Handle Chiles Safely [Helium]