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Capsaicin Extraction

The following recipe is broken down into five procedures so that the entire process can be done in your
spare time. It takes about a week from start to finish to produce a quality extract.

Before, after, and during each of these procedures be sure to keep your hands CLEAN and NEVER touch
your eyes, mouth, or nose if you get any of the pepper dust, extract, or alcohol on you. DO WEAR the
protective devices. (I learned the hard way!) ALWAYS KEEP AWAY FROM OPEN FLAMES OR HEAT
SOURCES! Alcohol is flammable and the vapors are explosive! Provide adequate ventilation! And YES,
this means NO SMOKING! If you don’t like emergency rooms, DO NOT GET ANY OF THE LIQUIDS OR
DUST IN YOUR EYES OR NOSE.

Tools and Materials Needed:

lots of dried red hot peppers


9 – (750 ml) Everclear brand 190 proof grain alcohol
disposable facemasks
plastic goggles
latex or rubber gloves
food chopper (food processor or blender)
12 - quart-size wide mouth glass canning jars w/lids
large funnel w/strainer built in (fruit strainer)
1 gallon glass jug w/tight-fitting screw-on cap
funnel big enough to hold a coffee filter
coffee filters
electric hotplate
heat spreader
pan to use as double boiler
cooking thermometer
500 ml Pyrex flask w/one-hole stopper
small ice bucket or plastic container
large plastic tub
Liebig condenser
bag of ice
water circulation pump
potholder or cooking glove
glass Pyrex pie pan
tiny 1 ounce glass vials w/tight-fitting caps
stainless steel scraper

Procedure 1: Extraction

Wearing the goggles, gloves, and facemask, (to protect you from any pepper dust that might be in the air)
grind the dried peppers into tiny pieces with the food chopper. Then fill the 12 quart size jars with the
chopped up peppers leaving an inch of space at the top. Tapping the jar to get contents to settle while
filling will allow for more pepper in the jar.

Pour in the alcohol slowly, allowing the air to escape from the bottom of the jar. Leave ½ inch of space at
the top of the jar. Tapping the jar on the side will insure that all the air bubbles are gone from the bottom
of the jar. Screw the lid on each jar firmly. Save all the alcohol bottles as they will be reused later on.

Leave the jars away from sunlight or heat sources for about three days, shaking them up twice a day. You
will then notice that the alcohol in the jars has taken on a deep red color. This is a good thing.

Procedure 2: Separation

Wearing the goggles, gloves, and facemask, (to protect you from splatters of the liquid) place the large
fruit funnel with the built-in strainer into the mouth of the 1 gallon glass jug.
Empty one jar from Procedure 1 at a time into the funnel until the funnel is full to the top. Allow to stand
while tapping the outside occasionally until it stops dripping into the jug. Then, toss out the contents of
the funnel and continue until you have emptied all the jars.

Rinse out the canning jars and lids with hot water and when dry, put them away for future use.

If the large glass jug is not enough to hold all the drippings, then use some of the glass canning jars to
hold the extra fluid. Make sure the lids are secure afterwards.

Procedure 3: Filtering

Wearing the goggles, gloves, and facemask, (to protect you from splatters) place the funnel that will hold
a coffee filter into the mouth of one of the empty alcohol bottles you saved from Procedure 1.

Place a coffee filter into the funnel and slowly pour in the separated liquid from Procedure 2 (the 1 gallon
jug) until the alcohol bottle is full. Change the coffee filter and repeat the process until you have as many
of the alcohol bottles filled as possible. You will notice that the filtered liquid from this step is a deep,
clear, red with no sediment in it.

Procedure 4: Condenser

The Liebig condenser will reclaim most of your alcohol to be used over again and will keep the alcohol
fumes down from the concentration procedure. THIS DEVICE IS A MUST AND IS REQUIRED IF
CONCENTRATING INDOORS! If you are concentrating outdoors, in a well ventilated area (NOT IN A
BUILDING!), and you do not want to reuse your alcohol, skip using this device and just let the alcohol
cook off into the air. IT IS STILL HIGHLY FLAMMABLE AND COMBUSTIBLE, so please, NO SMOKING OR
OPEN FLAMES.

Procedure 5: Concentration

Find a safe, spark and flame free place to set up the concentration apparatus. Place the heat spreader on
top of the hot plate. (3/8 inch thick disk shaped piece of steel or copper round enough to cover the entire
hot plate burner) This will keep the heat evenly distributed and the temperature fairly constant.

Place the pan (a sauce pan will do) onto the heat spreader. Find some ceramic or glass rod to support the
flask from the bottom of the pan.

Connect the inlet of the condenser to the flask using glass tubing and rubber stoppers. Arrange the outlet
so that the condensate (alcohol) is collected in a bottle submerged and weighted down in a container of
ice. Connect a circulation pump to the cooling jacket ports on the condenser and provide a large container
filled with ice and water to provide the cooling water and to catch the water returning from the condenser.
Make sure there is always a good supply of ice in this container AT ALL TIMES.

Turn on the hot plate and SLOWLY raise the temperature and watch the thermometer until the hot plate
shuts off at 190°F. DO NOT adjust it any higher than this. A temperature of 180-190°F should be
sufficient to produce output.

When the liquid level in the flask is down to half its volume, add more liquid to bring it back up to the 400
ml mark. Make sure that the water in the pan is about even with the liquid in the flask adding more if
necessary. Be sure to keep the ice bucket full and cold. This is very important.

Keep doing this until you have processed about 2 alcohol bottles worth of liquid. Pour the refined liquid
into the Pyrex glass pie pan and then repeat the process until you have no more of the filtered liquid left.

Be sure to put the caps on firmly on the bottles of reclaimed alcohol and put them in a safe place so you
can reuse them at a later time. This can save you A LOT of money on alcohol in the long run since the
stuff is about $11 to $15 a bottle. You should be able to reclaim most of it to reuse again.
Allow the alcohol left in the liquid you poured into the pie plate to evaporate by itself. Let it thicken until it
is about the consistency of heavy molasses. The remaining residue is AS HOT AS IT GETS! This deep
crimson-colored stuff is the payoff for all the hard work you put into this! Using the stainless steel scraper,
scoop it up and pour it into the tiny vials you obtained and cap them well. One of these small 1 ounce
bottles goes A LONG WAY!

Store the extract at room temperature and away from sunlight. It should be good for years. (I have used
some I had for about a year in some chili and WOW. It didn’t lose ANY of its hotness!) To test it, take a
toothpick and just barely touch the surface of the extract so that you get a dot you can barely see on the
end of it. Now, lick the toothpick and imagine what a drop of this stuff would do to a pot of chili!!!!

- Walt

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