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It's Hot!

How Hot is Hot?

By Eric Vinje, Cosmic Chile

"How hot is hot?" is a question that's plagued hot sauce connoisseurs for centuries.

Back in 1912, Wilbur Scoville, a chemist in the employ of the Park-Davis pharmaceutical company, answered the call for a way to measure and rate how hot peppers are by developing what is now known as the "Scoville Units" scale.

Scoville developed the "Scoville Organoleptic Test" to rate and test the heat in each and every chile pepper. In his test, Scoville ground chiles and diluted them with sugar water. Scoville kept on adding sugar water to samples until testers could no longer feel the burn. A number was then assigned to each chile pepper based on how much it needed to be diluted before the testers could no longer taste/feel the heat.

The heat factor of chile peppers is measured in multiples of 100 units. Sweet bell peppers, devoid of any "heat," are rated at zero while habaneros - the hottest of all peppers - are rated at 150,000 plus Scoville units. Keep in mind that pure capsaicin, which gives a pepper its heat, is rated at between 15,000,000 and 16,000,000 Scoville units.

Not all peppers or types of peppers are created equal when it comes to pungency. The heat associated with a particular pepper is part genetics and part "upbringing." That is, the soil and general nurturing of a pepper plant can make it milder or hotter. For that reason, most experts usually give a range for a particular type of pepper.

Below is a table of hot peppers and their Scoville units rating.

Chile Pepper
Heat Range
Bell Pepper, Pimento
............................
0
Cherry
............................
Up to 500
Pepperoncini
............................
100 to 500
El Paso, Santa Fe Grande
............................
500 to 750
Coronado
............................
700 to 1,000
Espanola, Poblano
Ancho, Mulato, Pasilla
............................
1,000 to 2,000
Anaheim, Sandia,
NuMex Joe E. Parker
............................
500 to 2,500
Rocotillo
............................
1,500 to 2,500
Pulla
............................
700 to 3,000
Mirasol, Guajillo
............................
2,500 to 5,000
Jalapeno
............................
2,500 to 8,000
Chipolte, Hot Wax
............................
5,000 to 8,000
Puya
............................
5,000 to 10,000
Hidalgo
............................
6,000 to 17,000
Serrano
............................
8,000 to 22,000
Manzano, Shipkas,
De Arbol
............................
12,000 to 30,000
Jaloro, Aji, Tabasco,
Cayenne
............................
30,000 to 50,000
Santaka, Super Chile,
Piquin
............................
40,000 to 58,000
Yatsafusa
............................
50,000 to 75,000
Haimen
............................
70,000 to 80,000
Chiltecpin
............................
60,000 to 85,000
Thai
............................
50,000 to 100,000
Tabiche
............................
85,000 to 115,000
Bahamian
............................
95,000 to 110,000
Carolina Cayenne
............................
100,000 to 125,000
Tabasco
............................
100,000 to 150,000
Kumataka
............................
125,000 to150,000
Jamaican Hot
............................
100,000 to 200,000
Birds Eye, Habanero,
Scotch Bonnet
............................
100,000 to 325,000
Red Savina Habanero
............................
350,000 to 577,000
Pure Capsaicin
............................
15,000,000 to 16,000,000






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