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Can Eating a Carolina Reaper Kill You?

Carolina Reaper Seeds

Can Eating a Carolina Reaper Kill You?

Good question, eating a Carolina Reaper pepper surely will feel like it is killing you. Just know this: the pain in your stomach and your bum will last longer than the fire in your mouth! So proceed with caution... 

Chile peppers and chile powder are loaded full of the chemical capsaicin, and in high enough concentrations, it can become a deadly neurotoxin. Chile peppers are part of the Capsicum family of plants, and this is the infamous chemical that gives them their heat. 

Carolina Reaper Seeds
The Carolina Reaper is the official hottest pepper in the world is the with a reported over 2 million Scoville heat units. So, enough of this pepper in a short period of time can surely kill you. Maybe. No one has tried it, nor would we recommend it!  Eating just one won't likely do it, but if you ate a whole bowl-full you could be in trouble!

Can Eating a Carolina Reaper Kill You?

A research study in 1980 calculated that 3 pounds of extremely hot peppers in powder form eaten all at once, could kill a 150-pound person. However, this is just a calculation, because who could ingest 3 pounds of chile powder all at once? Well, who knows, someone crazy will probably try it. We wouldn't! 

You could also choke on a Carolina Reaper (or any food for that matter), so yeah, that could kill you... just saying! 


For most people, eating a Carolina Reaper will provide hours to a couple days of very serious discomfort as your body processes the heat ;) – but there doesn't seem to be long-term dangers of eating super hot peppers. However, we still don't recommend eating super hots whole or in any quantity. We like to use them to flavor food, not to burn our faces off.

Bird With Carolina Reaper Hot Pepper
Interesting side note:

A bird could eat a Carolina Reaper with no problem. Hot peppers have capsaicin which causes burning in mammals but not in birds. Birds can eat peppers and then disperse the seeds in their feces, which can germinate. Peppers developed capsaicin most likely as deterrents against certain mammals and fungi. For some reason, many humans LOVE the burn, however! Good thing we grow peppers in return for their spicy goodness... so maybe they did it to get us to slave away to grow them. ha!

It's not just the Reaper that can make you feel like you are dying. Ruari Barratt, a freelance journalist working in the UK, knows firsthand the effects of eating too much capsaicin after a burger laced in concentrated piri piri chile sauce from India sent him to the hospital. According to Barratt, he experienced agonizing pain in his mouth only moments after his first bite of the burger, and as time passed, the pain only worsened.

Will eating a Carolina Reaper Kill You?

“Once whatever I'd managed to swallow reached my stomach (or however far inside me it got) my legs started convulsing and my hands seized up (I presume because I was hyperventilating),” Barratt wrote in an email to Medical Daily. “My eyes were rolling back in my skull, I was extremely pale, and it was hard to talk.”

Barratt’s experience lasted a total of three hours, and although he did not walk away with any lasting damage, it did feel like it was killing him.

Carolina Reaper Seeds


You will not die from eating a Carolina Reaper pepper.*

*Eating one Carolina Reaper is unlikely to kill you, b
ut – we definitely don't recommend trying to eat a Carolina Reaper! It will NOT be a good experience and you'll have a day or two of serious discomfort as you "process" the capsaicin. We think these peppers are best-suited for making hot sauce and salsas, which bring out the flavor and tame the Reaper heat to a tasty and pleasurable burn, versus a "I think I'm dying" kind of burn. ;)

Carolina Reapers are fairly easy to grow, it takes a little patience getting the seeds to sprout (they can take anywhere from 7-30+ days to germinate and must be kept very warm at 80-90˚ F during that period). Plus, they do take a long time before ready for harvest. But patience is a virtue with super hot peppers, and the spice and flavor is worth the wait! 

Grow your own with our Carolina Reaper Seeds »

Carolina Reaper Seeds

Make sure to check out our Yellow Carolina Reaper as well, which is not quite as hot but we still don't recommend eating them whole! 

Want a good Carolina Reaper recipe?

For the most amazing salsa of your life, check out our
Carolina Reaper Salsa Recipe »