Can You Take the Heat ?

Can You Take the Heat ?



This post might fall under the useless information category for some people however I find this interesting and educational.

A friend of mine grows hot peppers, some of the hottest peppers in the world, he starts these in January from seed and harvest’s them in September. The chemical in hot peppers that causes them to be ‘hot’ is called capsaicin. It is the same chemical that is used in police and military grade pepper spray.  This chemical binds to the heat sensors in our face and causes the sensation of pain.  The body is tricked into thinking it is being burned but in reality no damage is inflicted

Capsaicin (/kæpˈs.ɨsɪn/; 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is an active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact. Capsaicin and several related compounds are called capsaicinoids and are produced as secondary metabolites by chili peppers, probably as deterrents against certain mammals and fungi. Pure capsaicin is a volatile, hydrophobic, colorless, odorless, crystalline to waxy compound.

I ate a portion of a ghost pepper just to see how hot it was.  Doing this caused a pain in my tongue which felt like someone drilling into my tongue with a drill press.

Some people however have a high tolerance to pepper pain, not sure how they are able to do this, it may be a capsaicin tolerance or a genetic predisposition to not feel this sort of pain.  Carolina reapers are among the hottest if not the hottest pepper in the world at 2,000,000 scoville units.

Several of the hottest peppers with capscacin scores.

Several of the hottest peppers with capscacin scores courtesy of David Maack.

Here is how my kid reacted when I whipped out the hottest pepper in the world at the dinner table.

Carolina Reeper... at the Dinner Table

Carolina Reeper… at the Dinner Table

It is fun to watch tough-guys bravely eat these peppers then be in agony for 30 minutes on youtube.

 Thank you to David Maack for supplying the peppers and the pepper education!