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Chilli FAQ's

What makes chillies hot?
Heat comes from an oil called Capsaicin (Cap-Say-Uh-Sin) which is present in all chillies to varying degrees. It is a common misconception that the seeds are the hot part of a chilli. Capsaicin is present in the small nodes or membranes that hold the seeds so when you scrape the seeds out you are actually scraping out these nodes where the capsaicin is located. Capsaicin triggers nerves such as those found in your tongue skin and these nerves send pain messages to the brain telling it you are eating something hot.

How do you stop the burn?
Any dairy product like milk, yoghurt, ice cream or cheese will help ease the burn after eating chillies because a protein called casein breaks the bond between the pain receptors and the capsaicin. Don’t drink water, it’s like pouring petrol on a fire! Capsacin is not soluble in water so it just makes it worse!

Which are hotter dried or fresh chillies?
Generally speaking the drying process increases the heat of a chilli although the biggest difference you will notice is the taste. Where possible do not substitute dried chillies for fresh when cooking. Dried chillies are used throughout the world, either whole, crushed or ground as they can be kept easily and stored for longer.

How do you measure the heat of a chilli?
For a fuller explanation see our section entitled “The Scoville Scale”. Briefly, a scale of chilli hotness exists which is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU’s). It was developed back in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville using a human tasting panel. The Scoville scale is still in use although the human panel has been replaced by a high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) machine.

What is a Chipotle?
A chipotle (Chee-Poht-Lay) is a smoked chilli. Originally any chilli that was smoked was known as a chipotle and this was done to kill off any insects or pests so that the chillies could be stored for longer. As the most commonly grown chilli is the jalapeno (Hal-A-Pen-Yo) the name chipotle became synonymous with the smoked jalapeno.

Is eating chilli bad for you?
There is no evidence that eating too much chilli is unhealthy in anyway. Chillies are packed with vitamin C (higher than Oranges) and are extremely high in Vitimin A when dried. Capsicin is also used in anti- inflammatory creams to treat ailments like arthritis and shingles.

Can you get desensitised to eating chilli?
Yes. Tests have showed that with successive exposure to equal concentrations of capsaicin, the sensation of pungency decreases. This is why if you stop eating hot chilli food like curry for a while, when you go back to it, it seems hotter. Your tolerance has decreased – but it can be built up again!

Why do we like to eat chilli?
There is a reason why we go on eating chilli even though it "burns" the tongue. When nerve cells release substance p, the body produces chemicals called endorphins - and these act on brain cells in the same way that the opium-derived drug morphine does. The brain floods the blood system with it’s natural pain killer, endorphins and as a result, you feel good or in some cases, slightly euphoric or “high”.

What is the worlds hottest chilli?
As of writing this the current 'World’s Hottest Chilli' is the Naga Viper, grown in the UK and measuring 1,382,118 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

What is the molecular weight of capsaicin?
The molecular weight of capsaicin is 305.42

What is the empirical formula of capsaicin?
The empirical formula of capsaicin is c18h27no3

What is the hottest form of capsaicin?
The hottest form of capsaicin is in it’s crystalline form and it rates 16,000,000 SHU.

What is the boiling point of capsaicin?
The boiling point of capsaicin is 210-220 degrees centigrade

What is the melting point of capsaicin?
The melting point of capsaicin is 65 degrees centigrade

Is capsaicin soluble?
Capsaicin is soluble in alcohol, ethanol, ether, benzene and petroleum ether.

Where do chillies come from?
Peppers are members of the solanaceae family and relatives include tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. Peppers belong to the genus capsicum and have been dated back as far as 7000 BC.

Do chillies contain vitamins?
Chillies contain high amounts of vitamins a and c and are also rich in e, p, and k+.

Are peppers good for you?
The pleasure/pain reaction to peppers is said to have a psychologically beneficial effect and nutritionally peppers contain lots of vitamin a, b and c, as well as magnesium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.

Why are peppers called peppers?
Christopher Columbus thought he had found the plant that produces black pepper when he landed in North America thinking he was in India. That's why we call them "peppers."

Are chillies addictive?
Yes, chiullies are mildly addictive. Chilli Peppers contain capsaicin, a natural chemical that sends a burning sensation from the nerve endings in the mouth to the brain. the body defends itself against this pain sensation by secreting endorphins, natural painkillers that cause a physical "rush" - a high that keeps us craving for more.

Can hot pepper sauces help me lose weight?
The amounts of fat, carbohydrate and protein consumed with a typical dose of pepper sauce are insignificant which means that you can add flavour and spice to a dish for no measurable increase in calorific value. In fact eating chillies helps increase your metabolism and therefore burns fat.