Indian military scientists, working under the Defense Research and Development Organisation, devised a unique non-lethal weapon known as the “chili grenade” for deployment by the Indian Armed Forces.
The chili-based weapon is akin to tear gas and was even used for crowd control in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016.
The chili grenade uses the chili commonly known as “Bhut Jolokia” chili pepper, which is also called “Ghost Chili”.
It is so strong that the Guinness World Records once titled it as the world’s hottest pepper until it was surpassed by others.
One Bhut Jolokia measures over 1,000,000 Scoville units (a unit used to measure spiciness of chilies). For comparison, jalapenos have Scoville units of 5000-10,000.
These grenades were found fit for use after rigorous trials, producing an effect similar to tear gas but with potentially greater impact.
Exposure to the gas can cause temporary blindness (up to 3 minutes), shortness of breath, a burning sensation on the skin, and even choking.
The intense heat of the bhut jolokia pepper is a key factor in this incapacitating effect.
Dave Dewitt, an expert in chili peppers, notes that weapons utilizing capsicum, the compound responsible for chili’s heat, could have similar effects. Still, the choice of the world’s hottest pepper adds an extreme element to the weapon, garnering significant attention.
Beyond military applications, the bhut jolokia pepper has gained notoriety for its extreme spiciness, with enthusiasts seeking it out for culinary use.
Traditionally, this chili has been used in India for its stomach-soothing properties and for raising body temperatures, particularly in cold weather.
Scientists plan to develop chili powder to deter animals from entering army barracks and an aerosol version for self-defense and riot control.
This innovative use of the bhut jolokia pepper showcases its potential not only as a culinary curiosity but also as a powerful non-lethal tool for security and defense.
India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation continues to explore additional applications for this extraordinary chili, from protecting against wild elephants to empowering women with specially-made chili powder for self-defense.
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