Volcano Dust -- bhut jolokia (ghost chili) powder

Cliff Pickover mentioned this stuff on Twitter. Volcano Dust is powdered bhut jolokia, one of the hottest chili peppers on Earth (125 times hotter than a jalapeño). In the current issue of MAKE, we ran Gabriel Nagmay's article on how to grow your own bhut jolokia peppers.


      1.  It pretty much comes down to the individual. There’s a decent chance I could eat one… but I’m content to not explore the upper limits of my range.

        1. I really wish I knew what the hell it was I ate in university. One day the topic of spicy stuff came up and someone said ‘I’ve got plant in my garden that is supposed to grow the hottest known chilies’. I, being a macho idiot with a passion for spiciness, insisted on them bringing me one to try.

          The next day on a coffee break I was handed the chili which I promptly shoved in my mouth, crunched up and swallowed. The whole thing. The next 3 hours were pretty terrible, but not at all requisite of a hospital-visit. Nothing could remove the burning sensation and adding milk was completely pointless, in fact it added a feeling of extreme bloatedness which became the dominant discomfort. After seeing if a cookie would help that feeling (it didnt) I decided to stop eating random crap as an attempted remedy and instead spent the next few hours laying in the grass looking at the sky.

          Anyway… I really wish I know what it was that I ate.

    1. I saw them just hanging on a rack in a nearly generic-looking package alongside similarly packaged dates, prunes, etc.  I hope shoppers were paying close attention.

      1.  Our grocery store at least had the decency to vacuum pack the dried ones they had. No warning labels though, and they stuck them in with the tofu for reasons I will never understand.

  1. What am I supposed to do with it? I mean other than the obvious pranks. Figure out how to measure 1/125th of a teaspoon?

      1. Is it made of matter, yes/no?

        ETA: Whoops, ozone depleting, missed that.

        I don’t know that’s a good idea without forcing it all in one direction, there’s going to be some serious blowback. So if you’re in a gas mask, it’d make a good grenade. Self defense? Notsomuch.

        1. I was trying to decide between ozone-safe and environmentally friendly, and took a bad gamble on ‘long technical phrases are funny’

    1. I guess you could wet a needle and dip it in there, to pick up a tiny amount?

      Also, I wonder how they mill the stuff (except “carefully”) – the room with the grinder has to be a danger zone.

  2. By the way, one thing I learned 20 years ago from drinking beer while messing around with peppers — always wash your hands before going to take a leak.

    That’s a feeling a guy ought never to have.

    1. always wash your hands before going to take a leak.

      A friend of mine has informed me that while drinking milk will reduce the burn in one’s mouth, dipping one’s penis in milk is not effective.

    2. Washing your hands isn’t enough.  Wear nitrile gloves when handling peppers hotter than cayanne.    

      1.  Soap, indeed, doesn’t work. But some things do, if you’ve forgotten the gloves. We’re dealing with vegetable oils so anything that dissolves or attaches to oils will work with some effort. Concentrated dish detergent or a degreaser — molecules have a lipophilic end and a hydrophilic end. The former attaches to the oil and the latter to water. Isopropanol (91% if you can find it) works. Everclear probably would too. Acids work to a lesser degree, like lemon juice. You could probably also rinse your hands in vegetable oil but I haven’t tried that.

        1. Getting the oils off is easier than relieving the residual burn.  Just do yourself a favor and use the gloves.  

    3. Also don’t engage in sexual activity with your partner after you cooked a “mean pad thai” (Yvonne Brill?) for her.
      I won’t go into details from here but I was told it was horrible … :-(

  3. I actually like to get some of the flavor of pepper (aside from the capsaicin) when I cook, so I really don’t see the point of super hot peppers.   If you just used some normal hot peppers, you could use a lot more of them, and your food would have more flavor.

    1. One plus is that you can use bhut jolokia in a light sauce without changing the color, since you need so little. Or so i’m told; the jolokia sauce i bought turned out to be a scam and included barely any of it. You could use capsaicin extract I guess, but bhut seems simpler.

    2. I add a couple of drops of bhut jolokia sauce to canned chili to kick it up when I don’t feel like cooking.

    1. i’ve had a face full of cayenne before.. i can’t begin to imagine what bhut would be like.

      i’ve got 3 of these chilis in my freezer, i eat them every so often but they are mostly used to settle those awesome “i can eat anything hot” debates.

  4. I like hot. Mayan habanero sauce, no problem. My friend’s restaurant gets small custom-made bottles of jolokia in liquid form to *add* to their hot sauces. One day, the new waiter brought it out when I asked for the extra hot stuff they keep in the kitchen and all I can say is, yep, it is really, truly, unfrackingbelievably hot. First bite is denial, second bite is anger, third bite is straight to acceptance and done with it.

  5. It’s been a good year for the chili crop here at Chez Martian. Besides the usual home-brewed hot sauce, I’ve got about a couple of kilos of smoked, finely ground chilis (Roughly 40% jolokia, 40% “Butch T.” and 20% Dorset Naga. )

    I’ve been sending packets out to my friends. Ziplock baggies full of red-brown powder. The various global Customs/DEA organisations are in for a shock… :-)

  6. Being pretty good with the hot stuff, way more than the average person, I bought a bottle of Naga Jolokia sauce, then put it in a medicine dropper for controlled dosage.

    No exaggeration, one small drop taken by itself (placed on the back of the hand and taking a lick) will make the whole mouth feel warm for about 5 minutes.  Now you put a similar drop on a bite of pizza, and it WILL elevate the flavor with its’ own citrusy, smokey touch.

    Here’s a tip:  three drops on a Bloody Mary, instead of Tabasco.  Oh yeah.

  7. I grew ghost chilies two years ago, awesome for hot sauce. I just boil them with vinegar and salt and then puree. This part is VERY important: let the mixture cool before using the blender. The top came off and I (and my kitchen) was showered in boiling hot ghost pepper sauce. That (like relieving yourself after handling peppers) is a mistake you only make once.

    1. Another one-time-only mistake – leaving them to dry unattended hanging up in your forced-air-centrally-heated home while you go somewhere warmer for the winter. Getting the vaporized oil circulated all around the house is a disaster.

  8. i have found that smoking these hot chili’s really improves the flavor. adds a structure to the heat. Smoked Habaneros add a 3rd dimension to a hot sauce.

  9. I’ve always had a love of spicy food and its definitely something you build a tolerance to – I can’t imagine using anything less than a habanero sauce on a taco. The ghost pepper has become a foodie trend in Nashville over the last few years. I don’t know of any restaurants making use of it, but there are a number of local hot sauce magicians who all have their own take on ghost pepper blends. 

  10. Just opened a 5 pound bag (different brand) Jolokia Ghost Pepper powder. Stupid, really stupid. Not careful enough, powder is very fine. Accidentally inhaled a bit. Severe, nose & sinus burn, eyes watering, damn.

    Be more careful than I, eh.

    Could be worse I suppose. A few years ago I had been cleaning off the Hot Sauce bottles in my restaurant, I’ve a big collection, some extreme ones. Soon afterwards I went off to the toilet, made the mistake of not washing my hands before handling Mr. Happy.  Needless to say neither me or him were very happy for the next hour or so…

  11. We have problems with raccoons invading the compost bin in our backyard.  A little sprinkle of this and that could cease to be a problem…

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