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Oh, why do you burn me so?

  1. May 21, 2003 #1


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    After having the unfortunate experience of biting into a chili masquerading as basil in my Ka-Pow Chicken, and suffering through the following 5 minutes while I proceeded do drink at least a gallon and a half of water (I'm gonna be up all night), a question came to me:

    What is it about chili's that provide the burning sensation?

    Is it an acid? microscopic particles (like poison ivy)? chemical agent? nerve agent?

    Anybody know?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2003 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Chilies Unmasked

    Also, the reason we like them is that we get high on our own pain killers - much like nail biting and other sightly painful nervous habbits.
  4. May 21, 2003 #3
    Drinking water doesn't do a lot to quench the burn. They say eating something bland such as white rice or bread can help much faster to cut the burning sensation.
  5. May 21, 2003 #4
  6. May 21, 2003 #5
    Would anybody care to explain what a Scoville is?
  7. May 21, 2003 #6

    It was in 1912 whilst working for the Parke Davis pharmaceutical company that one of their chemists, Wilbur Scoville, developed a method to measure the heat level of a chile pepper. This test is named after him, it's called the Scoville Organoleptic Test, and it's a dilution-taste procedure. In the original test, Scoville blended pure ground chiles with a sugar-water solution and a panel of testers then sipped the concoctions, in increasingly diluted concentrations, until they reached the point at which the liquid no longer burned the mouth. A number was then assigned to each chile based on how much it needed to be diluted before you could taste no heat.

    The pungency of chile peppers is measured in multiples of 100 units, from the bell pepper at zero Scoville units to the incendiary Habanero at 300,000 Scoville units! One part of chile "heat" per 1,000,000 drops of water rates as only 1.5 Scoville Units. The substance that makes a chile so hot (and therefore so enjoyable to Chile-Heads !), is Capsaicin. Pure Capsaicin rates over 15,000,000 Scoville Units !

    Check out what that site also says about my little friend;

    The "Red Savina" Habanero has been tested
    at over 577,000 Scoville units!

    This is so much hotter than the normal Habanero chile pepper, that the "Guinness Book of Records" have accepted it as "the hottest chile pepper" in the world. Even now, breeders are attempting to beat this. The new Francisca Habanero is said to be hotter still!

    Also note that sugar is used to dilute the potency, as had been handed down to me through local 'wisdom'
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2003
  8. May 21, 2003 #7


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    You realize that parrots can eat as many chillies as they want since they don't have the receptor that recognizes that it is hot..

    And milk is the best thing to drink since the fats and proteins protect the receptor and wash the harmfull molecule away.
  9. May 21, 2003 #8
    What about the parrot getting a tummy ache? If I can feel it burn clear through my bowels then there must be a few sensors in locations other than my mouth.

    Yeah, I forgot about drinking milk. Eventually you get used to eating the 'hot stuff' and make fewer mistakes that can force you to run for help.
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