Friday, November 14, 2014

Capsiacin made with vinegar

Capsiacin is a pure crystaline extract taken from plants in the capsicum family--otherwise known as peppers. Part of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) there are a number of different kinds of peppers but all have some level of capsiacin. It's this chemical that gives peppers their heat and unique flavor.

Capsiacin has been shown to be a potent painkiller, both taken internally and rubbed in topically. Recently it has also been used (on an experimental basis) for painkilling after surgery. The numbness continues for up to two weeks and the capsiacin also aids in healing.

This is definitely something I want in my emergency first aid kit.

I found a post on the forums at Gardenweb about creating pure capsiacin. To get the crystals would take more time and effort than I want to expend, so I'm working on extracting the capsiacin gel or oil.

The information I found all indicates to use 190 proof alcohol, which is dangerous, flammable, and expensive. Since many herbal mixtures will work with vinegar when alcohol is called for (and I have vinegar sitting around the house) I decided to use vinegar.

I didn't use the hottest peppers. I had the seeds, so I grew an heirloom habanero pepper this year. I pulled off the fruit, dried it thoroughly, crushed it small and poured vinegar over it.

I ran the mash through twice, and ended up with this. This is placed on top of a candle warmer so you can see the color.

Almost a full quart of liquid. This is after several filterings--one through paper napkins, one through fabric, then I let it settle and poured off the clear liquid from the top. I started with about a quart and a half. There was that much gunk mixed in with the liquid.


This next picture is after three or four days of evaporation. Since it's cold outside and I'm not working with toxic chemicals I have it in a crock pot with water up to the evaporation line.

There is some settling even now. As the liquid evaporates I am seeing granules separating out at the bottom of the bottle. I'm not sure what they are yet--they may be capsiacin granules, or they may be leftovers from the filtering process that are starting to coagulate.


When it started to get thick I poured it in a pint jar. This stuff has a life of its own. There's about a half inch of black goo at the bottom of the jar. No light gets through, it's like tar. It crawls up the glass and clings.

That edge you see isn't the level of the goo, it's the stains on the glass. I used a toothpick and touched it to my tongue, and my tongue is still burning.

I think this experiment has been a qualified success. I found a smaller jar to put the stuff in, a glass jar with a glass lid. It's going in my emergency kit with a bottle of olive oil and a handful of latex gloves. :)