With a staggering 2.2 million Scoville heat units, the Carolina Reaper chili pepper holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s hottest. This wrinkly red pod packs a mouth-scorching punch.
But could taking on one of these infamous peppers actually lead to death?
While the Carolina Reaper won’t kill most healthy adults who eat it in moderation, its extreme spiciness does pose some risks. Those with certain medical conditions or
In this article, we’ll examine what makes the Carolina Reaper so hot, analyze the risks of consuming it, provide safety tips, and explore what happens when you take the scorching challenge.
You’ll discover that while eating a whole Carolina Reaper raw is an unpleasant and potentially dangerous endeavor, incorporating tiny amounts into dishes can add alluring heat for hardcore chili-heads. Read on to learn the facts around the infamous Carolina Reaper.
An Introduction to the Carolina Reaper Pepper
The Carolina Reaper was created by prolific pepper breeder Ed Currie of South Carolina by crossing a ghost pepper with a red habanero. This wrinkly, gnarled red chili stands out for its unique curved tail.
When tested by Winthrop University, the average heat level reached a staggering 1.6 million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs). The current record holder ranks at 2.2 million SHU – over 400 times hotter than a jalapeño!
This exceptional concentration of the compound capsaicin generates intense burning sensations in the mouth. The Carolina Reaper is renowned as the world’s hottest pepper.
What Makes Carolina Reapers So Spicy?
The key to the Carolina Reaper’s face-melting heat is a chemical called capsaicin. This compound binds to pain receptors in the mouth, triggering that scorching sensation.
Peppers concentration of capsaicin determines their
Our bodies are wired to react to this perceived threat. Ingesting capsaicin raises heart rates, releases endorphins, and makes us sweat – as if escaping danger. The body can’t regulate extreme heat, which produces painful effects.
Analyzing the Risks of Eating Carolina Reapers
The Carolina Reaper won’t kill most healthy adults in moderate amounts. However, they do pose risks, especially when consumed carelessly. Here are factors to consider:
- Allergies – Capsaicin allergies are rare but can cause anaphylaxis. Reactions are more likely if you’re allergic to other peppers.
- Digestive conditions – Those with GERD, IBS, or ulcers may experience severe abdominal pain, cramping, or irritation.
- Cardiovascular conditions – For those with high blood pressure or heart disease, a racing heartbeat and vasoconstriction triggered by capsaicin could be dangerous.
- Inexperience – If you’re unaccustomed to spicy foods, the sudden rush of symptoms may feel life-threatening.
So while the Reaper is unlikely to kill, those with certain medical conditions or sensitivities should avoid consumption. Beginners should also exercise extreme caution due to intense effects.
Safely Trying a Carolina Reaper Pepper
If you insist on trying a Carolina Reaper, take precautions to make the experience less miserable:
- Start with a tiny piece to assess your heat tolerance.
- Have milk, bread, yogurt, or rice ready to help offset the burn.
- Never eat on an empty stomach – the pepper’s impact will intensify.
- Avoid alcohol, which amplifies capsaicin’s effects.
- Don’t touch eyes, nose or sensitive skin after handling.
- Stay near a bathroom or outdoors – you may vomit.
- Have an antihistamine on hand if allergies are a concern.
While unpleasant, effects usually subside within hours. Seek emergency help if breathing difficulties, chest pain, or other concerning symptoms develop.
What Happens When You Eat a Carolina Reaper?
Food challenges involving the Carolina Reaper are popular online. But what really happens when you take on one of these fiery pods? Here’s a play-by-play:
- Initial bite – The fruity, tropical flavor makes the pepper seem deceptively tame at first.
- Rising heat – Within seconds, an aggressive spicy burn starts enveloping your mouth, intensifying rapidly.
- Peak intensity – The inferno peaks within 1-2 minutes, making your mouth feel like scorched earth. Inhaling exacerbates it.
- Physical reactions – Coughing, gagging, sweating, tearing up, runny nose, hiccups, shaking, and hyperventilating are common as your body reacts.
- Stomach effects – Cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may follow as capsaicin irritates your digestive tract.
- Recovery – After 30 minutes to 2 hours, the worst subsides. But indigestion, stomach pain, and bowel discomfort can linger.
Overall, expect intense mouth burn and full-body misery lasting hours. It’s certainly not a pleasant experience for most. Recovery takes patience and soothing foods. Proceed with caution.
Tips for Using Carolina Reapers in Food
While eating a whole Reaper is ill-advised, incorporating tiny amounts into dishes adds alluring heat. Here’s how to cook with these peppers:
- Use extreme caution when handling. Avoid direct skin contact and wear gloves.
- To lessen volatility, seed and devein the pepper first.
- Start with 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of dried, crushed Reaper powder.
- Add small slivers or thin slices to chili, salsa, hot sauces, and curries.
- Pair with cooling dairy ingredients to balance the heat.
- Let diners know the dish contains ultra-spicy Carolina Reapers!
With reasonable precautions, you can unlock the Reaper’s savory heat and fruity undertones in your cooking. Just use a light hand and give plenty of warning.
Side Effects of Eating a Raw Carolina Reaper
Eating a raw Carolina Reaper can cause many side effects, and even if you do not get sick, the burn alone can make you feel like you are dying.
Children should never be allowed to eat chili as the side effects can be much worse for them.
Some side effects that you might experience after eating a raw Carolina Reaper are:
- A burning feeling in your mouth and digestive system.
- A burning sensation in your chest
- Tearing eyes
- Runny nose
- Ringing ears
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Tightening feeling in your throat
- Increased saliva
- Body aches
- Stomach cramps
- Stomach pain
- An upset stomach
The side effects can last anything from half an hour to a day or two, so be sure that you can handle the heat before trying to eat a raw Carolina Reaper.
Here is an informative YouTube video showing what happens to your body when you eat a Carolina Reaper pepper.
Key Takeaways – Can Carolina Reapers Kill You?
While excruciatingly hot, Carolina Reapers are highly unlikely to kill most healthy adults when consumed in moderation. However, those with certain medical conditions should avoid them, and novices should take extreme care. If attempting to eat one, do so safely and brace yourself for searing mouth pain and hours of misery. In cooked dishes, use a tiny amount to add intense heat that complements other flavors. Respect the Reaper at all costs!
- WIKIPEDIA: Carolina Reaper
- BuzzFeed News: Here’s What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Super Hot Peppers
- CHILI PEPPER MADNESS: The Scoville Scale
- NBC NEWS: Carolina Reaper pepper causes thunderclap headache, doctors say
- Lonely Planet: The world’s hottest chili now comes with a medical warning
- Abc NEWS: Dozens of Middle School Students ‘Sickened’ After Eating World’s Hottest Pepper, Principal Says
- Scoville Scale: Homepage
- Cleveland Clinic: Digestive System
- BMJ Journals: An unusual cause of thunderclap headache after eating the hottest pepper in the world – “The Carolina Reaper.”
- Cleveland Clinic: Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome
- WebMD: What Is Acid Reflux Disease?
- Youtube: What Eating The World’s Hottest Pepper Actually Does To You
- PubMed: Esophageal Rupture After Ghost Pepper Ingestion