Pain 100% Hot Sauce Review

If you think it’s fun sweating your eyeballs out, then Pain 100% hot sauce is here to help. And they make no qualms about it in their brand name. Nope — this is the kind of sauce that makes you wonder with just a dash if you’ve gone too far. So it’s big heat, but is there a bold enough flavor here to balance that out? And how usable is a sauce this spicy? Let’s jump in — a toothpick taste at a time — to see what makes Pain 100% tick.

Flavor

The ingredients list of Pain 100% Hot Sauce comes down to six things. Though some of those “things” are wide open to interpretation when it comes to flavor: habanero peppers, water, natural pepper flavoring, vinegar, and spices.

For most hot sauces vinegar comes first. Nope. Not for Pain 100%. Those habanero peppers star and make their presence known fast. The tang from vinegar does hit at top, but it’s soon overtaken by that heat along with a smoky, peppery flavor. That “natural pepper flavoring” likely comes in there and maybe the generic “spices” too. But it’s hard to tell without more detail.

On the smokiness: It could easily be the natural habanero flavor (they can have a hint of smoky flavor naturally), but it’s likely then enhanced with those spices and flavoring to pump it up enough to play well with the heat. Together, the smokiness is very strong, so if that’s not a taste you love, I’d look elsewhere.

It’s a simple sauce and you 100% know why you’re buying it. The heat is big, the sauce is thick and packed with fresh pepper seeds — sort of like a visual warning before you start downing this stuff by the tablespoon full.

In terms of sodium, Pain 100% has 120 mg of sodium per teaspoon serving, 5% of your daily allowance. It’s certainly not low-sodium, but frankly this is a hot sauce most will use by the drops more than the teaspoons.

Pain 100% Hot Sauce on a spoon
Pain 100% Hot Sauce on a spoon

Heat Balance

It’s really hot! But think extra-hot, not super-hot. This is fresh habaneros (100,000 to 350,000 SHU), and even though they lead the ingredients list, they’re still diluted down quite a bit.

Pain 100% Hot Sauce lands at 40,600 Scoville heat units (SHU). That puts it in the range of fresh (or dried) cayenne pepper (30,000 to 50,000 SHU). It’s a much bigger heat than Tabasco Original Red (3,750 SHU) or Sriracha (1,000 to 2,500 SHU). It’s more inline with Tabasco Scorpion Sauce (50,000 SHU). And it’s nowhere near the likes of Satan’s Blood Hot Sauce (a whopping 800,000 SHU), no matter how sure the label is of your upcoming pain.

That said, no doubt this is a heat that’ll make you sweat. You may tear up a bit. It could even be painful for some, just like the label says. But this is a good pain, not one of those #@&#@ pains from hot sauces that use pure capsaicin extracts to reach super Scoville heights.

It’s definitely not among the hottest hot sauces around, but it sits at that level where you teeter on extreme heat and yet can still enjoy the flavor. Really, the flavor to heat balance is surprisingly nice for a “burn your tongue off” kind of sauce.

There may be some of you out there that will consider this a high medium heat. You could argue for it, especially if you’re really used to the heat of fresh habaneros. But most will want to use a very small amount to start. Or mix it into a base just to get used to the definite step up from typical everyday hot sauces.

Usability

To start, you’ll want to use with caution. A small dab — heck a toothpick full — can go far. The peppery, smoky flavor of the sauce allows it to work really well as a complementary heat source for chili, earthy soups, and meaty stews.

It’s a nice sauce with eggs, too. But so little goes so far in terms of heat, you can’t spread it around as you’d like to really let the flavor shine. That said, mixing Pain 100% Hot Sauce with another condiment base is a totally fun way to enhance the flavor. I tried it with ketchup and eggs and yum. Yes, I’m one of those weird people who loves my ketchup spicy.

In volume, the heat and smokiness do come out. So consider both when deciding where to use Pain 100%. It’ll work with a lot of foods, but they are both bold tastes that can overtake a dish.

Collectibility

How can you not love a label that calls a spade a spade as much as Pain 100% Hot Sauce? You get exactly what you see. It’s a fun conversation piece. Even if you don’t love hotter hot sauces, it’s a ton of fun to present as part of a hot sauce collection (and giggle maniacally at their pain, bwa-ha-ha.) Because most won’t use a lot of this sauce per serving, it’s also a great bang for your buck for the conversation and laughs.

The Score

Pain 100% Hot Sauce is a surprisingly well-balanced hot sauce for all the claims of total torture on the label. It’s an extra-hot heat, mixed with a tangy, smoky flavor. Expect some sweat and tears, but there’s still good flavor here.

FINAL SCORE4
Overall Flavor4
Heat Balance4
Usability3
Collectibility5
X-Factor4
Based on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest)

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 9, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on April 30, 2021.
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