The Scoville Scale

Below or on the left you can see the Scoville Scale. This scale was developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville to measure the pungency of chilli peppers. Originally, the heat rating of pepper extracts was measured by dilution with water. The degree of dilution, until there was no 'heat' observed anymore, gives its measure on the Scoville scale in Scoville Units or SHU.

Jalapeno extract has to be diluted up to 8000 times to be not detected anymore (see scale). A drop of extract of the hottest pepper in the world (Carolina Reaper) more than two million times! A meal is generally considered as ‘hot’ with a rating of 500-1000 SHU. Pepper spray used by the police has a rating of 5.300.000 SHU.

Capsaicin is the active ingredient that gives peppers their pungency. The number of SHU is related to the amount of capsaicin. Today, the pungency is determined by measuring the amount of capsaicin, using chromatography. Pure capsaicin has a rating of 15-16000000 SHU. The chemical is very stable, hardly evaporates and almost doesn’t decompose by cooking.

In chilli peppers five closely related chemical components are present with similar effects. Capsaicin and dihydrocapsaïcine are the most important of them.

When capsaicin is present in the mouth, nerves are giving a similar signal to the brains when burning your mouth eating food above 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit). The body responds by releasing endorphin. Endorphin is also called the happiness hormone, it gives you a nice feeling and eases the pain. You can get used to capsaicin, and thus to ‘hot’ food as well. Eventually you must eat ‘hotter’ to experience the effects of capsaicin. For many people, hot meals are a pleasant addiction. Birds are not sensitive to capsaicin and are therefore the main dispersers of the seeds.

If you've eaten too hot, a glass of milk is a better choice than a glass of water. Capsaicin is insoluble in water and much better in fat. An alcoholic drink will also help extinguishing the ‘fire’ better.

Scoville rating Pepper Variety
16 000 000 000 Resiniferatoxin
5 300 000 000 Tinyatoxin
16 000 000 Pure Capsaicin
15 000 000 Dihydrocapsaicin
9 200 000 Nonivamide
9 100 000 Nordihydrocapsaicine
8 600 000 Homocapsaicin,Homodihydrocapsaicin
3 180 000 Pepper X
2 500 000 Dragon Breath
1 500 000-2 300 000 Carolina Reaper (HP22BNH7 Pepper), Pepper Spray (USA)
1 200 000-2 000 000 Trinidad Moruga Scorpion RedTrinidad Scorpion Chocolate
855 000-1 463 700 Naga Jolokia, Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
876 000-970 000 Dorset Naga
350 000-577 000 Habanero Orange, Habanero Chocolate
100 000-350 000 Fatalii Green, Habanero Ivory,  Habanero Green
100 000-200 000 Turkish flower Biber
160 000 Shogaol
100 000 Piperine
60 000 Gingerol
50 000-100 000 Chilito de Simojovel, Ornamental Black Olive
30 000-50 000 Ají pepper, Comstock Purple, Mushroom
10 000-23 000 Biquinho Amarelo, Biquinho Red, Explosive Ember
16 000 Capsiate
10 000-11 000 Cherry
7 000-8 000 Purple Tiger
2 500-8 000 Jalapeno White
2 500-5 000 Tabasco Sauce (Classic)
1 500-2 500 Dragon Tongue
1 000-1 500 China Giant
600—800 Habanero Numex Suave Orange
500—1000 Pepper Anaheim
100—500 Pimenta, Pepperoncini
0 Sweet, Bulgarian pepper

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  • «Carolina Reaper Red» - Organic Hot Pepper Seeds

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