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Scoville Heat Rating

 A Scoville unit is used to specify the hotness of a food, specifically chili peppers. In 1912 Wilbur Scoville, devised a system to determine how hot foods are. He used a panel of tasters to provide heat scores for different peppers. Although we still use Wilbur's name for the unit, the current method is much more scientific.

The Scoville scale is used to rate the hotness of chilies: Mild red bell peppers rate a zero all the way up to habaneros at around 300,000 heat units. The heat that peppers impart comes from an alkaloid compound called capsaicin, which is manufactured in the ribs of the chili pepper. Capsaicin itself doesn't have any flavor; it stimulates the pain receptors in your mouth rather than your taste buds. The way to really keep the heat down is to remove these spongy inner parts. The seeds usually absorb capsaicin from resting near the ribs, so it's best to remove those, too...if you want to reduce the heat!

As shown on the table below, Scovilles vary widely from one pepper to the next. There are also variations of heat from one pepper to the next within the same species; growing conditions, soil and other factors have an affect on the amount of capsaicin within a given pepper.

Scoville Units Peppers
16,000,000 Pure Capsaicin
5,300,000 Police Grade Pepper Spray
2,000,000 Common Pepper Spray
855,000 Naga Jolokia
580,000 Red Savina Habanero
300,000 Habanero Pepper
290,000 Siam Hot Pepper
280,000 Scotch Bonnet Pepper
200,000 Jamaican Hot Pepper
90,000 Thai Chili Pepper
50,000 Cayenne Pepper
30,000 Manzano Pepper
23,000 Serrano Pepper
10,000 Chipotle Pepper
8,000 Jalapeno Pepper
5,000 Tabasco Sauce
2,500 Rocotilla Pepper
2,000 Poblano Pepper
2,000 Ancho Pepper
1,000 Coronado Pepper
500 Pepperoncini Pepper
500 Pimento
0 Sweet Bell Pepper