The inorganic mineral fraction extracted from black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) has been analysed using a thermoluminescence (TL) method, investigating the glow curve structure, including an evaluation of the kinetic parameters. Different grain sizes, i.e. 10, 74, and 149 μm, were selected from commercial black pepper. The X-ray diffraction of the inorganic fraction shows that quartz is the main mineral present in it. The samples were exposed to 1-25kGy doses by gamma rays of60Co in order to analyse the thermally stimulated luminescence response as a function of the delivered dose. The glow curves show a complex structure for different grain sizes of the pepper mineral samples. The fading of the TL signal at room temperature was obtained after irradiation, and it was observed that the maximum peaks of the glow curves shift towards higher values of the temperature when the elapsed time from irradiation increases. It seems that the fading characteristic may be related to a continuous trap distribution responsible for the complex structure of the glow curve. Similar glow curves structure behaviour was found under ultraviolet irradiation of the samples. The activation energy and the frequency factor were determined from the glow curves of different grain sizes using a deconvolution programme because of the evident complexity of the structure. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.