Chemistry of Cinnamon - The Principle of Cinnamon Challenge

The Principle of Cinnamon Challenge


Cinnamon Challenge

The cinnamon challenge is a viral internet food challenge. The principle of the cinnamon challenge is as follows “Swallow a tablespoon of ground cinnamon without any water in less than a minute. If you try it, you’ll quickly find out this is virtually impossible, not to mention painful and harmful. It’s not the actual amount of cinnamon that is toxic - you would have to eat more than 0.5kg to reach deadly levels- but the risk of inhaling such a large amount of a powdery substance.”

Dangerous effects of excess cinnamon uptake

The challenge is difficult and carries substantial health risks because of the cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, resulting in coughing, gagging, vomiting and inhaling of cinnamon, leading to throat irritation, breathing difficulties, and risk of pneumonia or a collapsed lung. The challenge has been described online since 2001 and increased in popularity in 2007.

Basics about Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. Cinnamon, one of the most important flavoring agents in the food and beverage industry, has been recognized for its flavoring and medicinal properties. The flavor of cinnamon is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5 to 1% of its composition.

This essential oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in seawater, and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde (about 90% of the essential oil from the bark) and, by reaction with oxygen as it ages, it darkens in color and forms resinous compounds. Other chemical components of the essential oil include ethyl cinnamate, eugenol (found mostly in the leaves), beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and methyl chavicol.

Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. It is used in the preparation of chocolate, especially in Mexico. It is also used in many dessert recipes, such as apple pie, doughnuts, and cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and liqueurs.

Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly. Cinnamon powder has long been an important spice in Persian cuisine, used in a variety of thick soups, drinks, and sweets.

Chemistry of Cinnamon

The cinnamon is having essential oils, resinous compounds, cinnamic acid, cinnamaldehyde, and cinnamate. An essential oil such as trans-cinnamaldehyde, caryophyllene oxide, L-borneol, L-bornyl acetate, eugenol, b-caryophyllene, E-nerolidol and cinnamyl acetate, terpinolene, alpha-terpineol, alpha-cubebene, and alpha-thujene were reported by Tung et al and Singh et al.


Cinnamaldehyde is the organic compound that gives cinnamon its flavor and odor. This pale yellow, viscous liquid occurs naturally in the bark of cinnamon trees and other species of the genus Cinnamomum. The essential oil of cinnamon bark is about 90% cinnamaldehyde. This organic compound forms a highly viscous solution with a yellow coloration, a sweet taste and a familiar aroma to cinnamon. In the body, this compound is quickly oxidized to cinnamic acid, which in turn is converted to benzoic or hippuric acid and excreted in the urine. It is estimated that over 90% is eliminated this way, with only a small amount being stored long-term in fat reserves.

Recent research documents the anticancer activity of cinnamaldehyde/cinnamic aldehyde observed in cell culture and animal models of the disease. Cinnamaldehyde is also known as a corrosion inhibitor for steel and other ferrous alloys in corrosive fluids. It can be used in combination with additional components such as dispersing agents, solvents and other surfactants. Its high refractive index of 1.6220 makes it a fairly safe and useful fluid for examining gemstone. It is also used in some perfumes of natural, sweet, or fruity scents. The most obvious application for cinnamaldehyde is as a flavoring in chewing gum, ice cream, candy, and beverages.


[1] © From,

To contact the author mail:

© WOC Article uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. X