Skip to content

Why the Hottest Hot Sauces are More Painful than Stepping on a Lego

The hottest hot sauces in the world and Legos have one particular feature in common: Pain. Pain so mind-bending it will make you question your existence. If you’ve never stepped on a Lego unawares, simply imagine that bleary, barefoot late-night walk to the bathroom when suddenly someone thrusts a punji stick into your metatarsal. It’ll bring you to your knees. However, what’s worse than that is pure, unadulterated chili pepper hatred from the hottest hot sauce clamping onto your tongue and not letting go ‘til it wants to. And with our extreme hot sauces, that may be long after you and your scorched-blind tongue have screamed into the void, “WHY ME?”

Why is Hot Sauce so Painful?

Chili peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin (cap-SAY-a-sin), which they likely developed to keep from being eaten. Ha, ha! Joke’s on them because look at us now. Capsaicin bonds to sensory receptors on the tongue and in mucous membranes, creating a burning sensation. So, the higher the capsaicin concentration in the pepper, the stronger the burn—i.e., the more intense the pain. 

The Scoville Scale refers to capsaicin concentration, or, as we like to say, “pain expectation.” Just how bad a particular hot sauce is gonna hurt is usually indicated by the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) it delivers. For reference, everyday Sriracha is roughly 2,200 on the Scoville scale, and the jalapeno pepper ranges from 3,5000-10,000. Habaneros score over 300,000, and our punishing The End Hot Sauce and its sadistic psychopath of a sister, The End: Flatline, reach more than 6 million SHUs. SIX MILLION. That’s what we said. We figure most people would rather attempt the Lego Firewalk Challenge—walking across a “hot coals” kind of set up but with the evil little bricks—than dash 6 milly Scoville units into their mouths, but you crazy chiliheads continue to prove us wrong.

What Does Extreme Hot Sauce Do to Your Body? 

Ingesting liquid-form chili peppers comes with pros and cons. Capsaicin boasts some health benefits, like increased blood circulation and (possibly) lower blood pressure. However, the chemical-warfare levels found in legendary reapers or ghost peppers might cause…bodily reactions, let’s say. Why does hot sauce hurt your stomach or feel like it’s grinding your intestines into sausage? Let’s find out.

  • Core temperature rises. Your tongue’s pain receptors have just told your brain there’s something deadly in your mouth. Naturally, your body goes into action trying to expel it. Nice try, capsaicin. Your core temp spikes, causing responses like sweating, flushed cheeks, and excess saliva production. You may experience a runny nose or watery eyes.
  • Might trigger stomach cramping. As hot sauce rides the roller coaster of your insides, it’s pinging all the pain receptors on the way down. The burn travels, signaling a neurotransmitter to tell your stomach to cramp in an attempt to get the bad stuff out, fast. Wheeeeeee!
  • Potential intestinal pain. Capsaicin irritates some folks’ guts—how severely depends on the person and their tolerance to it. So, if you’re the kind of person seeking out pure pepper extract hot sauces that come with an official warning label, then, hey, maybe you’re also the kind of person who has no intestines.
  • Creates a mood boost. Putting yourself through the pain of eating the hottest hot sauces is the cliff diving of the food world. Endorphins flood your body to cope with the pain. At some point—maybe even during the begging-for-mercy worst, you crazy chilihead—you’ll feel happy. Maybe even ecstatic. 

Can Hot Sauces Hurt You?

If you’ve read this far, or have ever eaten chili flavored with habaneros, reapers, or scorpion peppers, you know the answer.: Yes, eating hot sauce can (and will) hurt you, but only briefly (though it might feel like an eternity). Capsaicin evolved to cause temporary pain, not to cause permanent damage. While we all experience pain from eating the hottest hot sauces, the capsaicin itself is not harming us: although it causes a sensation of burning, it does not actually burn. However, capsaicin in your eyes or airways is bad. Really bad. After all, capsaicin was weaponized as pepper spray. As of now, Legos (as painful as they are) haven’t been weaponized, but perhaps the DOD should be looking into it. 

  • Keep extreme hot sauces away from kids and pets. This one goes without saying, but we’re gonna say it anyway, just in case. We obviously wouldn’t want our two- and four-footed kids getting pepper sprayed, so we also don’t want them tasting hundreds of thousands or millions of SHUs.
  • Hot sauces aggravate existing gastrointestinal conditions. We all have to play with the cards we’re dealt. And some folks didn’t get any cards for handling hot sauce. We get it. Y’all get flare ups and various unpleasantries we don’t need to mention here.  If you’ve got any of these things, we advise a “look but don’t touch” approach to anything on this website that has the words hot sauce attached to it.
  • What is the Most Painful Hot Sauce?

    Our most painful hot sauce is The End: Flatline, made with reapers, pepper extract, ghost peppers, scorpion peppers, and 7 pot chocolate douglah peppers. The most painful hot sauces you can buy are made with pure pepper extract and often come with warnings about not actually eating them or making sure you wear protective gloves if you handle them.  

    How Hot is Mr. Pain Hot Sauce?

    One of our most popular (yet least hot) of the extremes, Mr. Pain, packs a flame-throwing 1 million Scoville unit punch. So, just imagine eating a raw ghost pepper. That’s what you have to look forward to. 

    Why People Eat Hot Sauce or Attempt the Lego Firewalk: To Bond, Of Course

    Intensely painful experiences shared among folks create strong social bonds. What can we say? Humans are weird. There’s nothing like surviving the mouth-searing gut grenade of bhut jolokia pepper sauce to get a party going, and we’ve witnessed first-hand the instant camaraderie of adult strangers who have all experienced the shot-in-the-foot nightmare of stepping on a wayward Lego. We’re not suggesting an extra-hot-hot sauce challenge at your next corporate team building event…or are we?

    Previous article Salsa Is the New Superfood, Here’s How
    Next article 7 Surprising Benefits of Salsa