Nordihydrocapsaicin, abbreviated as NDHC, is a “capsaicinoid,” meaning that it belongs to the same family of chemicals that creates the “heat” one tastes from chili peppers and such. Additionally, the chemical name of capsaicin is derived from the Capsicum genus of plants, it was first harvested from; such as chili peppers, which belong to one of the families of plants under the nightshade line. The technical name for a chemical that belongs to the same group as similar chemicals is “congener.” NDHC’s molecular formula is C17H27NO3.
Much like its root chemical capsaicin, nordihydrocapsaicin is an irritant. Further, it is the third most prevalent in occurrence, falling behind dihydrocapsaicin and capsaicin and accounting for roughly seven percent of the total composition, and is also roughly fifty percent as spicy as pure capsaicin. Pure nordihydrocapsaicin is lipophilic, meaning that it dissolves in fats, oils, and lipids, rather than in water; it is also without color or scent and ranges in consistency from solid crystals to a more waxy substance. Nordihydrocapsaicin reaches roughly 9.1 million Scoville heat units, making it considerably spicier than a common pepper spray; pure capsaicin reaches 16 million by comparison.
If you are curious about trying varieties of chili that come close to the spiciness of nordihydrocapsaicin, you’ll be left sorely disappointed and comparatively underwhelmed. While several varieties, such as the bhut jolokia, or “ghost pepper,” 7-Pot Chili, and the Infinity Chili, were considered the hottest peppers in the world, ranging between 855,000 and 143 million Scoville Heat Units, the title of hottest pepper currently belongs to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and the Carolina Reaper which range between 1.5-2.2 million Scoville Heat Units. Even when accounting for the water content of a given pepper, nothing reaches nearly the same level of eye-watering, nostril-burning piquancy as nodrihydrocapsaicin, let alone pure capsaicin.
For the uninformed, the Scoville Heat Unit, or “SHU,” is the standard for measuring piquancy of a given substance. A substance’s SHU value is arrived at after analyzing the number of applications of simple syrup against the subject’s tongue is required in order to quench the “fire” of a given substance’s oil. However, this test, known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test, is rather subjective and, when one also considers the water content of a given substance, can lead to a wide-ranging assessment of any given substance’s level of piquancy.
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