How dangerous is eating a Habanero Pepper straight?

You know those little orange peppers that are supposed to be really, really, hot! Just how dangerous are they to the human stomach and/or gastrointestinal track? I once saw a man in Phoneix eat one. He lasted nearly a minute before running from the pub we were in. No idea what happened thereafter. But I consider myself to be one who can handle quite a bit of heat from picante foods. But the Habanero measures 100,000 to 300,000 Scoville Units which is the unit of measure for hot peppers. The units measure the amount of capsaicin (the chemical that provides the heat) in a pepper. So anyone ever eaten a habanero? What happened?

I’ve eaten one over the course of an hour. Small bites. Hot little bastards to be sure, but no ill effects to my stomach or other innards.

Wait, let me change that. Chile peppers burn twice, once going in, and once… well, you know. Expect a good case of ‘ring sting’.
We grew habaneros, Thai, and cayenne peppers last year. The Thai were about as hot as the habeneros and tasted better. I dried and crushed the Thai and cayenne and now have a smoking hot topping for our pizza. I’m not as tough as I thought I was.

I have eaten a whole habanero pepper as part of a bet with a friend. Generally, the smaller the pepper, the hotter it is. My friend had a habanero pepper plant in his garden, thus supplying the peppers was easy.

Anyway, it wont harm you, and its effects are about like you would expect. Extreme heat and discomfort last for about 30 minutes (for me), but the worst is over in about 15 minutes. The usual eyes watering, noses running, etc. that you would expect from jalapenos, but much more amplified and intense. It is basically like having the fires of hell inside your mouth. Other than the mouth, I didn’t notice any bad effects further on in my digestive system. I would consider myself to be pretty open to hot foods, as i like most peppers and heat. Habaneros, however, are a bit too hot for my tastes.

If you want a small example of what it would be like, cut a habanero in half, then lick your finger used to hold the pepper while cutting. You will get a brief 5 minute taste of what it is like. The main difference between that and eating the whole pepper is the duration of the heat. Eating the whole pepper can provide your own personal hell for 30 minutes or so.

Would I do it again? Probably not, unless there was a large reward for doing so.

IANAD, but I suspect if you give one to your 80 year old grandmother, very bad things might happen. Surely there would be all hell breaking loose in her lower GI, and the body’s general reaction to such a strong stimulus could possibly kill her. I’m sure Quagdop has a more concise medical opinion.

As for young people, you would probably sweat and tear alot, face turns red, mouth numbs as well as lips, and some people’s throats swell a bit. The next day on the toilet, you will wonder if there really is a God, and why he’s not putting you out of your misery.

Btw, you can buy “pure” capsaicin in little medicine dropper bottles, usually called PureCap. Not bad when used in moderation, two drops goes a looong way.

Also, make sure you have a big jug of milk handy, in case you can’t take it anymore.

I’ve never tasted one-nor do I plan on it!-but we grew them in horticulture when I was in high school. Make sure you wash your hands VERY thoroughly after handling!

I’m not sure I should own up to this, but I’ve eaten one.

Boy did I regret it!

Many years ago, a lady at a company I worked with grew peppers and she brought a bunch in for her coworkers. She left them in little baskets in the break room and invited people to try them or take some home with them. She didn’t label them in any way except as “hot” “hotter” and “hottest” but the ones that caught my attention weren’t green, they were these funny looking little orange ones. They were just labeled “WOW” or had a radioactive symbol on them or the like.

I figured, “how hot can it be?” So in front of some of my coworkers I popped one in my mouth and chomped down. I think I chewed three, maybe four seconds before it really hit me. I felt like I’d been maced. I spat it out, but the damage was done. My face turned bright red, and the volume of sweat on my forehead was second only to the river of snot that was coming out my nose.

My coworkers, very helpfully, laughed their asses of. :slight_smile:

Meanwhile, I wanted to die. I washed my mouth out but it was just liquid pain. I had some vague recollection (I wasn’t thinking too clearly at the time) that the hotness was acidic, so I figured that I might try washing it off with soap, so I spent the next fifteen minutes in the men’s room alternately blowing my nose and scrubbing my tongue with soap. By the way, once you’ve scalded off your taste buds, soap doesn’t taste too bad.

Anyway, after about half an hour I was able to breath again and my sinuses seemed to run out of mucous. Fortunately there was no lasting effect other than my coworkers thinking I was a complete idiot. But hey, how smart DOES one have to be to realize you shouldn’t chew on nature’s napalm? :slight_smile:

All I can think now is thank god I didn’t swallow it… I’ve had some bad experiences with jalepenos on the day after. The thought of that habenaro coming out the other end… ::shudder::


I’ve eaten sandwiches with multiple habaneros in them (like three or four), but they were pickled which may have reduced the heat.

But, after eating those sandwiches, those were the only times I ever felt burn on the “output” end, if you catch my drift. And I’ve eaten a LOT of hot stuff.

My nephew loves habañero-stuffed olives. The ones he buys are about the size of small eggs, from his description of them. He says he can tolerate up to three at one sitting. More than that and Mt. Saint Helens flies inverted the following morning. :eek:

I myself used some as flavoring in pickle brine for pickled eggs, and they lent a very good flavor (and no little heat) to the concoction. Mind, I didn’t eat them, just cut them up and put 'em in the brine. At my nephew’s suggestion, I wore latex gloves and washed my hands thoroughly afterwards. You don’t want to absent-mindedly dab at the corner of you eyes when you’ve been handling those firecrackers.[/voice of experience]


I once roasted and peeled about 20 lbs of Sandia green chile. Sandia is fairly hot, and I didn’t use any gloves. I made the mistake of not taking out my contacts lenses before I started this. I finished with the peeling about mid-afternoon, and when I took out the first lens late that night I was in pain for a few minutes, though it seemed like an agonizing few hours. After recovering from that, the horror of having to take out the second lens hit me. Ouch

I once decided to buy some and grill them up for pickling later. Being foolish, I decided to eat one straight off the grill. About 10-15 minutes of agony and swilling water ensued.

Slightly off-topic, but I saw a bottle of “sauce” in a gourmet store that claimed to be a pure capsaicin extract with a potency of 7 MILLION Scoville. I found its website:

I have done this to myself three, perhaps four, times with Thai birds-eye chiles. I am an idiot.

Problem is, once I get the chile oils on my contacts, I just cannot wash them completely off. The only way I found that works is to let the tears in my eye wash them off (after doing some prelimenary washes with the contact cleanser.) Yes, I know it’s incredibly stupid, but it’s the only way the oils ever completely come off. Last time I blinded myself, I swear I washed and scrubbed my hands for ten minutes. No dice. Still burned like hell when I tried to take them out.

As for habaneros, I used to make stir-fries with two or three of them mixed in with the beef & veggies, without ill effect. However, I think the frying kills a lot of their heat. Or maybe I’ve long since seared off the last remains of my mouth’s pain receptors.

I have inhaled while slicing habaneros or scotch bonnets, and that led to a coughing fit of about 10 minutes. I suspect that might be as great a damage as the ingestion, especially for the hypothetical 80-y.o. granny.

Yes, I have done this.


I didn’t know what it was at the time. I just knew that I really enjoyed the taste of peppers, and had never met one that could bring me down. Someone said “These are EXTREMELY hot, don’t eat them straight!” This same someone says the same thing about freaking jalapenos, so I just rolled my eyes and popped the whole thing in.

I don’t really know how to describe the sensation. And I don’t mean that in the “I can’t describe it, it was so overwhelming” sense. I mean that in the literal “I do not know the proper adjectives to describe a sensation of hot pepper flavor” sense. Suffice to say, it was pretty hot! I remember my vision going cloudy, and seeing swirling colors. But, I stuffed my mouth with bread and after a few minutes it went away.

I certainly wouldn’t do it again, but I don’t think it was so bad that it could actually be a health risk. Painful, exhilirating, but well within reasonable bounds of human tolerance.

I ate one at school one day, and yeah I was crying and in pain. My ears even hurt, and they aren’t part of the digestive system! (It didn’t even taste good.)
Luckily there was an ice cream bar in it for me, and lots of snow outside to cool my mouth off.

And yes, my buthole burned the next day. Not a horrible burning…but a wierd tingley burning… :eek:

Or, later, beat off.

A desire to voluntarily remove one’s genitalia is a sure sign of mental imbalance.

Let us NEVER forget this thread:

I have serious Wolf-ass.

In it we find information about ingesting lots of hot peppers, and my particular medical practice for treating said side-effects.

I have eaten an entire habanero pepper before. In about 2 minutes. It was picked. It was very hot. The exit symptoms were not so much the problem as the horrible reflux. Antacids will not help, because it’s the capsaicin bubbling back into the esophagus and hitting the tender tissue there that causes such pain. Fortunately I had the fixins for a “GI cocktail” (that’s GI as in gastro-intestinal) with lots of lidocaine.

I’ve done it too. Won’t do it again. I think I did it in about 4 bites. It’s kind of like a bad out of body experience.

Same thing happened to my horticulture teacher. Then he told us about a student who had graduated a few years before who, after handling the peppers, had neglected to wash his hands, then went to the bathroom…I don’t think I need to tell you the rest of the story.

I think you should tell us anyways. :cool:

I one seeded and veined a few pounds of jalapenos with no gloves. I was fine for perhaps thirty minutes, then it was like burning needles under my fingernails. I also spurted myself in the eye with jalapeno juice once. That was fairly unpleasant, too.

I did once eat a cayenne pepper raw in my youth, on a bet. However, I surreptiously stowed packets of raw sugar in my cheeks first, which I ruptured (the packets, silly, not my cheecks) while eating the pepper. That softened the ride considerably, and I highly recommend it.