The world of peppers is incredibly diverse, with various flavors and spicy levels. The Scoville Scale, named after American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, is the most widely recognized method for measuring the heat of chili peppers, from the mildest to the world's hottest types of peppers.
This comprehensive guide will delve into the science behind the Scoville Heat Scale and how it relates to spicy chile pepper.
We'll also explore the key factors contributing to spicy heat factors and discuss some of the world's hottest peppers.
⬇️ Table of Contents
What Is The Scoville Scale?
The Scoville Scale is a measurement system used to determine the spiciness of peppers. It was developed by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912 and has since become the go-to method for rating spicy heat levels.
Capsaicin is a natural chemical compound found in chili peppers belonging to various Capsicum species, such as Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum chinense, Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum rhomboideum, Capsicum eximium, and Capsicum pubescens. This compound gives them their characteristic spiciness.
The amount of pure capsaicin pungency in a hot pepper determines its heat level and Scoville Heat Unit (SHU).
Capsaicin concentration varies among different pepper varieties within these Capsicum species and is responsible for the burning sensation experience.
Factors Affecting Spice Level
Several factors influence the heat of a pepper, including growing conditions, hours of sunlight, moisture, soil chemistry, and type and amount of fertilizer used. These factors can affect the spiciness in the pepper.
Pepper plants require warm and humid conditions to grow. The ideal temperature range is between 60°F and 90°F. The plants require well-drained soil and regular watering to thrive.
Hours of Sunlight
Pepper plants require at least six hours of sunlight daily to produce fruit. If the plants receive less than six hours of sunlight, the fruit may not develop properly, resulting in a lower concentration. The Trinidad Scorpion Butch T is a popular pepper variety known for its extreme heat and fruity flavor.
Pepper plants require regular watering to produce fruit. However, overwatering can result in lower capsaicin in the fruit. Additionally, high humidity can also affect the spice levels.
The soil type in which the pepper plants are grown can affect the rating. For example, sandy soil may produce with a milder flavor, while clay soil may produce chiles with a stronger flavor.
Type and Amount of Fertilizer Used
The type and amount of fertilizer used can affect the capsaicin content. Fertilizers high in nitrogen can result in a higher concentration of capsaicin content, while fertilizers high in phosphorus can have a lower concentration of capsaicin.
Measuring Chile Pepper Heat: The Scoville Organoleptic Test
Using the Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), the scale is based on the Scoville Organoleptic Test, which relies on human taste testers to determine the heat of a pepper or hot sauce.
The extract of chili pepper is diluted in sugar water until its heat is no longer detectable by the testers. The degree of dilution corresponds to the SHU rating.
Modern Methods For Measuring SHU: HPLC
Although the Scoville Organoleptic Test remains popular, modern methods like High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) offer a more accurate and objective measurement of capsaicin concentration in peppers.
Despite its limitations, the Scoville Scale continues to be the most easily understood and widely used method for describing spicy heat.
Peppers From Hottest To Mildest: Scoville Heat Units Chart
The Scoville Scale rates various peppers and hot sauces.
For some popular peppers, arranged from mildest to the hottest pepper, as measured using the scoville rating, the higher the capsaicinoids number, the hotter:
The Pepper X is the hottest pepper in the world.
|Chili Pepper Name||Scoville Heat Units||Scoville Heat Level|
|Pepper X||2,800,000 - 3,180,000||10+++++|
|Dragon's Breath||2,200,00 - 2,480,000||10++++|
|Carolina Reaper||1,500,000 - 2,200,000||10+++|
|Trinidad Moruga Scorpion||1,500,000 - 2,009,231||10+++|
|Chocolate 7 Pot||1,000,000 - 1,853,936||10+++|
|Katie (7 Pot Katie)||1,200,000 - 1,590,000||10+++|
|Trinidad 7 Pot Primo||1,100,000 - 1,469,000||10++|
|Butch T||800,000 - 1,463,700||10++|
|Komodo Dragon||500,000 - 1,400,000||10++|
|Trinidad Red Scorpion||500,000 - 1,390,000||10++|
|Naga Viper||600,000 - 1,382,118||10++|
|Lucy (7 Pot Lucy)||900,000 - 1,359,284||10++|
|7 Pot Barrackpore||900,000 - 1,300,000||10++|
|7 Pot Jonah||800,000 - 1,200,000||10+|
|Brain Strain||800,000 - 1,200,000||10+|
|Yellow Brain Strain||700,000 - 1,200,000||10+|
|New Mexico Scorpion||500,000 - 1,191,595||10+|
|Bedfordshire Super Naga||500,000 - 1,120,000||10+|
|7 Pot||500,000 - 1,100,000||10+|
|Spanish Naga||600,000 - 1,086,844||10+|
|Infinity Chili||500,000 - 1,067,286||10+|
|7 Pot Madballz||750,000 - 1,066,882||10+|
|Bhut Jolokia, Ghost Pepper||600,000 - 1,041,427||10+|
|Bhut Jolokia Chocolate||500,000 - 1,001,300||10+|
|7 Pot Armageddon||855,000 - 1,000,000||10+|
|7 Pot Bubblegum||840,000 - 1,000,000||10+|
|7 Pot White||800,000 - 1,000,000||10+|
|Trinidad Orange Scorpion||700,000 - 1,000,000||10+|
|Naga Morich||600,000 - 1,000,000||10+|
|Raja Mirch||450,000 - 900,000||10+|
|Trinidad 7 Pot Cardi||500,000 - 850,000||10+|
|7 Pot Yellow||450,000 - 600,000||10|
|Trinidad Yellow Scorpion||400,000 - 600,000||10|
|Red Savina||250,000 - 577,000||10|
|Devil's Tongue Chocolate||400,000 - 500,000||10|
|Devil's Tongue Red||350,000 - 500,000||10|
|Habanero Francisca||300,000 - 500,000||10|
|Habanero Chocolate||300,000 - 500,000||10|
|Fatalii Peach||150,000 - 500,000||10|
|Fatalii White||150,000 - 500,000||10|
|Fatalii Yellow||125,000 - 500,000||10|
|Adjuma||100,000 - 500,000||10|
|Fatalii Red||100,000 - 500,000||10|
|Black Congo Pepper||300,000 - 450,000||10|
|Caribbean Red||300,000 - 445,000||10|
|Devil's Tongue Yellow||300,000 - 400,000||10|
|Hot Pepper Lantern||300,000 - 400,000||10|
|Habanero White Bullet||300,000 - 400,000||10|
|Red Congo Pepper||250,000 - 400,000||10|
|Madame Jeanette||150,000 - 350,000||10|
|Habanero White Giant||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Habanero Big Sun||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Habanero Caribbean Red||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Habanero Giant White||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Habanero Peruvian White||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Habanero Red Savina||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Habanero White Bullet||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Scotch Bonnet||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Scotch Bonnet Foodarama||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Scotch Bonnet MOA||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Scotch Bonnet Orange||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Scotch Bonnet Red||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Scotch Bonnet Yellow||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Scotch Bonnet Yellow||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Yellow Lantern Chili||100,000 - 350,000||10|
|Datil||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Fatalii||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Habanero Chocolate||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Habanero Orange||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Habanero Red||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Habanero White||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Jamaican Hot Chocolate||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Jamaican Hot Red||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Jamaican Hot Yellow||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Madame Jeanette||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Red Savina Habanero||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Scotch Bonnet||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Tepin, Texas||100,000 - 300,000||10|
|Thai, Birdseye||50,000 - 100,000||9|
|Chiltepin||50,000 - 100,000||9|
|Pequin||30,000 - 60,000||8|
|Cayenne||30,000 - 50,000||8|
|Tabasco||30,000 - 50,000||8|
|Santaka||20,000 - 30,000||7|
|Super Chile||15,000 - 30,000||7|
|Jalapeno||2,500 - 8,000||5|
|Poblano||1,000 - 2,000||3|
|Anaheim||500 - 2,500||2|
photo courtesy - Bohica Pepper Hut
The Bhut Jolokia, also known as the Ghost Pepper, is one of the world's hottest peppers on the Scoville Scale, with a rating of over 1 million SHUs (Scoville Heat Units).
This pepper is so hot that it was once used in hand grenades by the Indian military to flush out terrorists hiding in bunkers.
Eating this can cause intense burning sensations and even nausea or vomiting for some people. It's important to handle these peppers with care and caution when cooking with them.
photo courtesy - Gialloz Afferano
Madame Jeanette is a type of chili pepper that originates from Suriname and is widely used in Caribbean cuisine. It has a distinctively fruity flavor with a high level of heat, measuring between 125,000-325,000 SHU.
This pepper is often used in hot sauces, marinades, and stews to add a spicy kick to any dish. The use of Madame Jeanette pepper has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its unique flavor profile and versatility in different recipes.
photo courtesy - Grow North
The chocolate habanero, also known as the black habanero, ranks high on this scale with a heat range of 425,000 to 577,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). It is considered one of the hottest chili peppers in the world.
Despite its intense heat, it also boasts a unique fruity and smoky flavor that makes it a popular choice for adding spice to various dishes. However, caution should be taken when handling and consuming this pepper due to its extreme spiciness.
photo courtesy - After Green Grow
Aji Charapita is a Peruvian pepper that ranks high on the scale, rating 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units. This tiny yellow pepper packs quite a punch and is often used in traditional Peruvian dishes to add spice and flavor.
Despite its spice, it has a fruity and slightly sweet taste that makes it popular among those who enjoy spicy food.
Pepper X" is an incredibly super hot pepper variety known for its extreme spiciness. It was created by Ed Currie, the creator of the Carolina Reaper. Pepper X holds the Guinness World Record for the highest Scoville heat units (SHU) ever recorded, surpassing 3.18 million SHU.
This makes it one of the world's hottest chili peppers. Consuming Pepper X can result in intense heat, burning sensations, and a powerful endorphin rush.
Numex Big Jim
Numex Big Jim pepper has a range from mild to hot. At its mildest, it measures around 500-2,500 Scoville units, while at its hottest, it can measure up to 30,000-50,000 Scoville units.
The Numex Big Jim is often used in salsas and sauces to add a moderate level of heat and flavor.
Thai pepper, also known as bird's eye chili, has a high ranking on the Scoville Scale and can range from 50,000-100,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
It is commonly used in Thai cuisine to add a spicy kick to dishes such as curries and stir-fries. Although it may be too hot for some people, the Thai pepper contains capsaicin, which has been shown to have health benefits such as reducing inflammation and aiding in weight loss.
photo courtesy - Trade Winds Fruits
The Komodo Dragon pepper has a rating of around 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU., making it very spicy and not for the faint of heart.
Aji Amarillo Pepper
Aji Amarillo is a type of chili pepper originating from Peru, which has a Scoville rating of 30,000-50,000. This means it falls in the mid-range in terms of heat intensity.
It's commonly used in Peruvian cuisine to add flavor and spice to dishes like ceviche and causa rellena. It can also be used as a substitute for other peppers like jalapeno peppers or habaneros in recipes.
Chile de Arbol
The chile de arbol is a small, slender Mexican chili pepper that measures between 15,000 and 30,000 SHU.
This puts it in the medium to high range of spiciness, similar to cayenne pepper. It is commonly used in Mexican cuisine for its smoky flavor and moderate heat.
Red Savina Habanero
photo courtesy Uk Chili Seeds
The red savina habanero is one of the hottest peppers in the world, with a range of up to 580,000 Scoville Heat Units. It is known for its fruity and floral flavor, followed by an intense and lasting heat.
The red savina habanero is used in many dishes to add flavor and heat, but it should be used sparingly due to its high capsaicin level. It is important to handle the pepper with care as it can cause skin irritation or burns if not handled properly.
The scotch bonnet pepper is a popular chili pepper that ranks between 100,000 and 350,000 SHU. It is commonly used in Caribbean cuisine to add heat and flavor to dishes such as jerk chicken and hot sauce.
The capsaicinoids present in the scotch bonnet pepper are responsible for its spiciness and can vary in concentration during ripening. It is important to handle this pepper with caution as it can cause skin irritation or burns if not handled properly.
Tabasco is a popular hot sauce that has a Scoville rating of 50,000. This means that it falls under the category of "medium-hot" on the Scoville scale. Compared to other hot sauces like habanero or ghost pepper, Tabasco is relatively mild but still packs a flavorful punch.
It's made from tabasco peppers, which are aged in oak barrels and mixed with vinegar and salt to create a tangy and spicy condiment. Tabasco sauce can be used as an ingredient in cooking or added to dishes for extra heat and flavor.
Dried peppers are an essential ingredient in various cuisines worldwide, providing a concentrated and robust flavor.
The heat of dried chiles depends on various factors, including the conditions they were grown and the drying process itself. Example: jalapeño smoked, which become dried, are chipotles.
Tame the Heat: Neutralizing The Heat
If you've accidentally gone overboard with the heat in a dish, don't fret! There are ways to neutralize and bring the spiciness level down a notch.
Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, or sour cream, can help counteract the spiciness due to their fat and protein content. Additionally, serving a spicy dish with a side of rice, bread, or other starchy foods can help absorb some of the heat.
Safety First: Handling and Preparing Chili Peppers
When working with hot peppers, it's crucial to take safety precautions. Capsaicin can cause irritation or burning sensations when it comes into contact with skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.
To avoid mishaps, wear gloves when handling and chopping chili peppers, and avoid touching your face, especially your eyes.