We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Hotsaucing?

By Debra Durkee
Updated Feb 26, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Hotsaucing is a controversial method of correcting behavior in children. Similar to washing a child's mouth out with soap, the practice involves putting hot sauce on a child's tongue as punishment for a bad behavior. While some parents practice the method as a last resort, many child psychologists consider it a form of child abuse. In some areas of the United States, the law recognizes hotsaucing as a form of child abuse and is illegal.

The practice is thought to have originated in the southern part of the United States. Parents use varying amounts of hot sauce on a child's tongue as punishment for any bad behavior they deem worthy of the punishment. Many types of hot sauce contain capsaicin, the chemical that adds heat and spice to the condiment. In young children, the application of hot sauce and this substance to the tongue can not only cause painful heat but also swelling of the tongue, which can make it difficult for the child to breathe. In some cases, it has also caused children to choke.

A division between the two sides of the hotsaucing issue is clear. Some individuals believe it is a cruel corporal punishment inflicted on children. Alternately, many parents that practice hotsaucing say it is used only as a last resort; when other punishments such as time outs or taking away a child's favorite toy fail, hotsaucing is a mildly painful alternative that works, they say. Parents that use the method also say that it's only needed a few times before the threat of it is enough to correct behavior.

Typically, hotsaucing only involves a single drop of the substance on the child's tongue. Parallels have been drawn between this practice and other methods of discipline in which physical pain or discomfort is the main deterrent. Child psychologists usually put this practice in the same category with spanking and washing a child's mouth out with soap; some comparisons have been made that to a child, it is as severe as being hit with a belt or other object.

Some feel that it is a particularly appropriate for language-related offenses such as name-calling or swearing, as it is punishing the part of the child responsible for the bad behavior. Arguments have been made that it is a more humane form of physical punishment than spanking, and does not send the mixed message that while it isn't all right for children to hit each other, it's okay for parents. In some cases, parents use the same principle with a different liquid, from lemon juice to vinegar.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By StormyKnight — On Jul 02, 2011

@momhree- I tend to agree with you. However, I guess you could say that it's the lesser of two evils -- I mean, it's certainly not as immediately physically damaging as a beating, or something like that.

By momothree — On Jul 02, 2011

I can remember, as a child, having my mouth washed out with soap. If my sister or I said something mean, hateful, or disrespectful, that was our punishment. Whereas it did not hurt, it tasted pretty darn bad. My point it this: it did not cause us physical harm.

I cannot even fathom putting hot sauce in my children’s mouths. In my personal opinion, that would be considered as bad as hitting them. Either way, the child is having horrible pain inflicted upon them.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.