Capsaicin

What Makes Hot Sauce HOT?

structure of hot sauce heat

Ever wondered why your mouth, fingers, or – heaven forbid – eyes hurt because of hot peppers? Well the answer lies in the chemical compound that lives in the placental tissues (which hold the seeds in place), inside membrane, and fleshy outsides of every hot peppers. Scientists believe this chemical compound, called capsaicin, is created by peppers as a natural defense that “burns” those that might eat and chew the seeds thereby reducing reproductive opportunities.

In actuality, capsaicin doesn’t cause any chemical burning. The heat you experience is just capsaicin tricking your sensory neurons into believing they’re burning through a chemical process that’s too complicated to get into. The degree of heat – measured in Scoville units – and duration depends entirely on the pepper you ate, and your ability to cope with this flavourful magic trick.

If you can handle the heat, there is a veritable world of culinary pleasures and health benefits to be experienced!