Growing firepods in the Coastal Plains of North Carolina...
Pepper Chemistry Main Page
Organic chemistry was one of my strongest academic subjects, so learning about chile peppers from a chemical standpoint has been both interesting and
fairly straightforward. Quite a bit of research has been done on the chemical behavior of the capsaicinoid family, so I do not lack
information. My task (as always) is sorting through it all and presenting the salient highlights in an semi-coherent manner <grin>.
Chemistry is, by nature, a technical and fairly complex subject, and I intend to delve quite a bit deeper into this narrow aspect of the chile pepper than
do other Chile Head sites. This is not meant to slight any other sites; most of the Chile Head sites listed on my Links page provide as much detail about Pepper Chemistry
as the casual observer would need. Rather, it is simply that chemistry is my area of expertise, so it is also my focus.
If organic chemistry is not one of your stronger suits, this part of the site is best surfed through in order, as definitions and explanations are given where first needed, and
are typically not repeated in later sections. Technical terminology is first introduced in bold red. Where I have to discuss chemical phenomena, I will try to use real-world analogies to better explain them.
A good Organic Chemistry textbook is a recommended companion for those
Readers who desire more in-depth explanations; used book stores around colleges and universities are good sources for cheap texts. Used text book stores are not good sources, as they charge ridiculous prices.
Captive audience, insatiable greed, and no sense of decency, you understand...
All of the chemical structures and reaction mechanism diagrams used in this
section are my own creations. None of the chemical structures that I've seen on any other Chile Head sites show unshared electrons, nor do they properly depict the unsaturation in the
capsaicin molecule, both of which are major determinants of the chemical behavior of capsaicin. Due to the use of a really cheesy red-gold Chrome effect, all of my
technical artwork is readily identifiable (and hopefully too ugly to steal). If you see someone else using my artwork without giving proper credits, please 1) give them a boot in the
rear via email, and/or 2) let me know about it so I can do the same.
Last updated 31 January 2015.
(c) 1999-2016 Mike Whittemore
All graphics (c) 1999-2016 Mike Whittemore
Hosted by the The Homestead Collective.