Alcohol

Here's Why Taking A Shot Of Tequila Burns Your Throat

Anyone who's ever taken a shot of hard liquor can tell you: it burns on the way down. But it's not the alcohol itself that's burning your throat. Instead, the ethanol in the liquid is making your throat's VR1 heat receptors more sensitive, prompting them to perceive your own body temperature as hot. (Of course, this doesn't mean you should do shot after shot without fear of consequences.) Learn more about the science of alcohol with the videos below.

If you'd like to learn more about the chemistry of your favorite cocktails, check out "Proof: The Science of Booze" by Adam Rogers. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Why Does Alcohol Burn When You Drink It?

Don't blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Alcohol triggers the VR1 heat receptor in your mouth and throat. 00:24

  2. Ethanol and capsaicin both bind to the VR1 receptors in your mouth, but ethanol merely makes them more sensitive. 00:43

  3. Ethanol lowers the activation threshold of your VR1 receptors, which means that your own body heat causes a burning sensation. 01:05

Written by Curiosity Staff April 22, 2016

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