The Chemistry of Sriracha


For my The Chemistry of … project I chose Sriracha. Sriracha is a condiment that is good on almost anything (I have experimented with it). A man by the name of David Tran created Sriracha sauce and sold it out of his van, later leading to the Huy Fong Foods. Huy Fong Foods is where Sriracha is made. Ever since Huy Fong Foods opened up Sriracha has grown in popularity. With its unique spicy/garlic combination many Americans love its unique and distinct taste. I happen to be one of those people, I chose Sriracha for my project because I love for my food to have lots of flavor and I wanted to learn more about this tasty condiment. I love Sriracha sauce because it makes all of my food taste ten times better.

Composition of ...

    • Crushed chilies (paste)
    • Garlic
    • Vinegar

Sun ripened chilies: Capsaicin (C18H27NO3)

Garlic: Allicin (C6H10OS2)

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Sun Ripened Chilies:

How: The chilies are crushed up into a paste.

What: Sun ripened chilies.

When: Only fresh sun ripened chilies are used to be grinded up into a paste.

Where: Irwindale California, the town where Huy Fong Foods is located.

Why: No artificial flavors are used and the sun ripened chilies bring a great flavor to the Sriracha sauce, also giving it a unique color.


How: A specific amount of garlic is added with other ingredients.

What: Garlic that is ground up to help make the sauce.

When: Added after chilies to help the sauce process.

Where: Irwindale California.

Why: No artificial flavors are used, garlic mixes well with other ingredients to give off a great distinct taste.

Chemistry's Role

    • Both chilies and garlic are naturally occurring, which means they grow in the environment.
    • The final product (Sriracha) is man-made. Chemistry plays a role in the creation of

Sriracha. Also exact measurements of ingredients are needed to give Sriracha its distinct color and flavor. The Scoville Scale was created to measure the heat of certain peppers, finding the perfect pepper (1000-2500 Scoville Units are found in a bottle of Sriracha). Another example of chemistry found in Sriracha has to do with the chemical composition of each ingredient. The main ingredients besides red chilies and garlic are vinegar, salt, and sugar. What makes Sriracha lovers attached has to do with pain believe it or not. Groups of molecules inside chilies known as capsaicinoids is what causes the pain that comes from eating Sriracha, pain is pleasure to some people. TRPV1 proteins are what sends the message to our brain that we have just eaten something spicy, coming from the intake of capsaicinoids. After the brain gets the message it disputes pain-killing endorphins from the body’s natural opiate that gives the consumer of Sriracha a high. Some people do not get as much of the TRPV1 proteins which makes them dislike Sriracha and other hot foods/sauces/spices as well.

Background Research

Sriracha sauce is made by grinding up sun ripened chilies and garlic into a paste and then adding vinegar, salt, and sugar. Sriracha has no food coloring added to it, the distinct bright red color is natural. Sriracha sauce is made at Huy Fong Foods in Irwindale California. Citizens of Irwindale are complaining about headaches and burning eyes from the breaking down of chilies. When Huy Fong Foods is breaking down about 100 million pounds of chilies per year that is a problem. A couple of lawsuits have been brought up because of the unsafe breaking down of chilies. Huy Fong Foods almost went bankrupt because of the lawsuits.


Sriracha Sauce got its name from a coastal city that belonged to a province known as the Chonburi Province of Eastern Thailand, the city is named Si Racha.

Sriracha Sauce is mainly eaten on seafood, people also use it for a dipping sauce in Thailand.

Other foods such as; jams, lollipops, chips, eggs, burgers, soups, and cocktails are also eaten with Sriracha sauce.

Non- Thai versions of Sriracha are generally runnier than

Sriracha is good on Chinese, American, Italian, and Mexican foods.

There are no artificial colors or flavorings added to Sriracha it is made with the highest quality of ingredients.

David Tran immigrated over to the United States, settling in Los Angeles, and was unable to find the hot sauce he knew back home so he decided to make his own.

David Tran sold what he called Sriracha out of the back of his van, leading to his own business known as Huy Fong.

10 million bottles of Sriracha are sold each year.

Huy Fong Foods, the maker of Sriracha, almost went bankrupt.

Citizens of Irwindale California are complaining that fumes are coming from the Huy Fong Food Factory and causing burning eyes and headaches.

The process of breaking down the chillies used in Sriracha is what makes the fumes that cause headache and burning eyes.

Sriracha comes in a 17 ounce bottle. (unmistakable bottle with a rooster on the bottle and a green lid)

Cost for a 17 ounce bottle is $4.29. (srp)

A lawsuit on the Sriracha factory sprang up due to dissatisfaction of locals.

650,000 square-foot building, Huy Fong foods, processes around 100 million pounds of chillies per year.

Chemical equation for garlic

Chemical equation for chilies

Chemistry of Sriracha.

Scoville Scale

TRPV1 Proteins

About the Author

Connor Gaughan is currently a junior at Billings Senior High School. He is very involved with sports, including football and track also outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, skiing, and boating. He also lettered in football this year and track last year. He enjoys school and hanging out with his friends. As far as college goes he is still unsure on where he wants to go but wouldn't mind ending up at the University of Montana. He is a part of the National Junior Honor Society and takes school very serious, with a cumulative GPA of 3.9.