Unconventional (non-cooking) uses for chillies

by House of Scoville
February 01, 2017

There’s a lot more to chillies than just spice and burn. We know that the capsaicin in chillies have great medicinal value and are often used to relieve pain, but the non-conventional uses for chillies stretch even further beyond that. Read below for some more interesting uses for chillies!

Creams, lotions, patches, gels

Chilli peppers are often used for topical applications to help relieve joint and nerve pain including osteoarthritis. The capsaicin has also been used as a natural anaesthetic and can be found in many popular pain relief medications.

Food and cosmetic dyes

Developed from oleoresin. Oleoresins are a combination of oil and resin that can be extracted from plants and plant products. After undergoing an extraction process, these products can be used as colouring agents or even in soap and candle making. These chillie oleoresins serve a great alternative to the raw spice as the more concentrated forms are easier to transport and have a longer shelf life – all without losing any flavour.

Animal deterrent

Cayenne pepper is used to deter both mammals and insects alike – this can be your new best friend in the garden without harming your plants! A gentle soap solution with dried chillies works perfectly on herbs, vegetable plants and even fruit trees. Just be sure to wash your fruit and veggies carefully before eating! Ants, bugs and even the biggest of mammals can feel this pepper’s burn – chillies are often tied to the fences around crops in Africa to keep elephants away. In the USA, postal staff uses pepper spray to guard off animal and especially dog attacks.

Warm yourself up

A bit of cayenne powder in the socks will keep your feet nice and warm at night! Keep the amount small to ensure that it’s a comfortable temperature and doesn’t burn – the capsaicin will increase the circulation in your toes and fingers to improve blood flow. Turn your socks inside out and sprinkle just a bit into the front area of the sock where your toes are. If more than a teaspoon is necessary, make sure to add a bit of talcum powder first. If you don’t want the cayenne pepper to touch your skin directly, a plastic bag with cayenne in can be placed under or next to your feet to warm them. Warning: chillie is a dye (see above!) and will act on your socks to turn them pink as well. Similarly, they’ll burn any open scrapes or wounds that you have.

Pepper spray

A powerful form of self-defence that can cause severe pain and even temporary blindness if sprayed into the eyes. It can close your throat and bring out the worst feelings of skin irritation and eye watering. A bear pepper spray has even been developed to guard against the grizzlies nearing your house in the woods!

Pepper has even been used as a weapon in ancient history where pepper and dried pepper flakes were thrown at enemies. In Japan, they have been used to punish criminals by throwing pepper in their faces. The Indian Army are even testing chilli grenades to be used as non-lethal weapons.


The ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations used chillies as a currency! They’ve been tasty from the earliest civilizations, so tasty that they weren’t just worth a lot of money... they WERE money!


The dried chilli wreaths are a popular decoration that we’ve all seen hanging somewhere and the festive red, green and yellow chillies are a beautiful sight to behold. Peppers in bottles of oil also serve as a great decoration piece and create a buzzing, fiery atmosphere.

Fellow chilliheads, can you think of any other uses for chillies? Maybe you have a special use for them in your own home? Share with us below!

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