display | more...

Found in hot peppers, chilis (sometimes spelt chiles) but not in wasabi.

Pure capsaicin is almost guaranteed to give you respiratory arrest if you inhale it (it's a white powder). Thankfully, pure capsaicin only exists in pharmaceutical labs awaiting incorporation into various creams and lotions. Perhaps paradoxically, capsaicin preparations are quite useful as analgesic agents - they numb the pain sensation. Even so, the concentrations used are lower than 1% - dangerous stuff.

A measure of how concentrated capsaicin is in nature, have a look at http://www.flyingchilepepper.com/facts.html

8-methyl-n-vanillyl-6-nonenamide. A chemical which forms a large part of my diet. It has been found to have medicinal properties as a pain killer and is used in defensive Pepper Spray. It is the most potent and the most common of the Capsaicinoids.

A friend once told me a story about two guys he knew. One of them was an early researcher of the properties of pure capsaicin. The other was a badass. The researcher always carried a bottle of pure capsaicin with him in order to flavor his foods. One time the researcher and the badass were eating breakfast together (with this friend of mine in attendance as well), and the researcher stuck the very tip of a toothpick into the capsaicin and gently waved it in the presence of his omelet. The badass asked what he was doing, and the researcher explained that he was using the vapor of the capsaicin to add some spice to his omelet.

The badass thought the researcher was a wuss, and took the bottle of capsaicin and poured some onto his own omelet.

Needless to say, the badass was shocked and humbled, and probably couldn't taste anything for a week.

Molecular Weight: 305.42
Empirical Formula: C18H27NO3
Boiling Point: 210-220 degrees C
Melting Point: 65 degrees C
Soluble in: ethanol, ether, benzene, and petroleum ether


H3CO
    \_           O                    CH3
    / \          ||                   |
HO -   - C - N - C - (CH2)4 - C = C - C - CH3       
    \_/  |   |                |   |   |
         H2  H                H   H   H

Capsaicin is the chemical found in various hot peppers that causes the lips, the mucous membranes inside one's mouth, the esophagus and each end of the digestive tract to feel a burning sensation upon consumption, digestion and elimination, in addition to being the main ingredient in pepper spray. The hotness of capsaicin is measured in Scoville Heat Units.

Please note: this list should be considered incomplete, as new super-hot pepper cultivars are appearing one at a time every few years, mostly thanks to a man named Ed Currie, one of the world's foremost pepper growers.

Additionally, the peppers listed below have a range of Scoville heat units rather than a static number. This is because there are a few factors that affect the pungency of peppers—weather conditions, mostly, but also soil quality and, as any grower would tell you, luck.

Many, if not most of those listed below following the ghost pepper, are cultivars and are not found in the wild.

Pepper name Scoville heat units
Bell0
Banana100—500
Shishito100—1,000
Padrón500—2,500
Española1,000—1,500
Poblano1,000—2,000
Cascabel cherry1,000—2,500
Pasilla1,000—4,000
Baklouti1,000—5,000
Anaheim (aka New Mexican)1,500—2,500
Jalapeño2,500—5,000
Hungarian wax pepper2,500—15,000
Serrano5,000—15,000
Chile de Árbol15,000—30,000
Cayenne/tabasco30,000—50,000
Pequin30,000—60,000
Chiltepín50,000—100,000
Peri-peri50,000—175,000
Malagueta60,000—100,000
Datil100,000—300,000
Scotch Bonnet100,000—350,000
Madame Jeanette100,000—350,000
Habanero200,000—500,000
Red Savina350,000—577,000
Nagabon (Scotch Bonnet X Ghost Pepper)750,000—900,000
Naga Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper)855,000—1,041,000
Naga Morich1,000,000—1,200,000
Naga Viper1,000,000—1,300,000
Infinity chili1,067,000—1,300,000
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T1,200,000—1,400,000
Genghis Khan's Brain1,500,000—1,700,000
Carolina Reaper1,569,000—1,700,000
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion1,800,000—2,000,000
Dragon's Breath2,480,000—2,600,000
Pepper X3,180,000 +

For reference, consumer-grade pepper spray rates about 2,000,000 and police-grade rates 4,500,000 Scoville units. Pure, unrefined capsaicin rates at 16,000,000 Scovilles.

It's a tricky proposition to eat any of the peppers (fresh and whole) listed above that come after the habanero; search Youtube for "eating carolina reaper" or "eating scorpion peppers" and it becomes abundantly clear that doing so causes most people severe gastrointestinal distress, making the consumption of such peppers more of a survival challenge than anything else. (Indeed, Dragon's Breath and Pepper X aren't even intended for human consumption; rather, those peppers are grown for use in anesthetic topical solutions, although at least one sauce has been made from Pepper X—Heatonist's "The Last Dab XXX", which has been featured on Hot Ones for a few years.) This isn't necessarily the case when those peppers are used to make hot sauces, but still, use caution and common sense when approaching heat level 10+.

Cap*sa"i*cin (?), n. [From Capsicum.] Chem.

A colorless crystalline substance extracted from the Capsicum annuum, and giving off vapors of intense acridity.

 

© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.