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How Hot Are Your Chili Peppers? A Helpful Scoville Unit Guide and Heat Chart

Updated on January 27, 2015

Scoville Units Are Used To Rate Heat

All peppers are rated by using the Scoville scale. The measurement defines the spicy heat of a pepper which is also called piquancy. The scale was developed in 1912. Wilbur Scoville set the scale of pungency in units of 100. For example, a bell pepper rates at 0 Scoville units while a pepperoncini rates at 100 to 500 units. The numbers result from how much a pepper or its heat must be diluted before it cannot be tasted. A habanero pepper must be diluted 200,000, therefore, its Scoville rating is 200,000.

Capsaicin is the chemical which makes a pepper hot. It is considered to be an irritant. Your mucous membranes are affected by capsaicin and an overabundance of it will make your mouth burn or cause you to cry. It is a myth that the seeds are the hottest part of a pepper. The hottest part is actually the inner white membrane or pith that hold the seeds to the wall. It is the pith that should be removed when trying to reduce the heat level in a recipe calling for chili peppers. Capsaicin is often used in muscle rubs to treat soreness and arthritis. Pure capsaicin has a Scoville rating of 15,000,000. Today much more modern techniques are used to determine the heat factor of a pepper or similar compand. The method used is called High Performance Liquid Chromatography or HPLC. Despite modern techniques, the unit that measures heat is still called a Scoville unit.

Follow the tips below so that you can rate a pepper's heat just by looking at it. The pepper rating chart will give you a basic understanding of popular peppers and their heat ratings. Don't forget to peek at the funny video at the end of this hub!


Tips for Determining Heat Levels

Heat or piquancy of peppers is tolerated differently by different people. Some like things mildly spicy while others enjoying going to the extreme and tolerate the intense burn of peppers. shows Guinness world record holder Anandita Dutta Tamuly who ate 51 bhut jolokia peppers in two minutes. The bhut jolokia has a Scoville rating of 1,000,000 units. The pepper grew wild near her home and she ate them frequently in order to build up a tolerance for the pepper.

You can gauge how hot a pepper is without looking at its rating on the Scoville scale in one of several ways. Look at its size. A large, thick pepper will not be as hot as a small, thin pepper. Color helps in judging, too. A green unripened pepper will not be as hot as a ripened red chili pepper. Another way to test a pepper is to cut off the small end of the pepper and touch it to your tongue. The tip of a pepper holds less heat than the body of a pepper while the seeds are the hottest part of a pepper. The variety of pepper is key, also. A banana pepper is much less hot than a habanero. Use these tips when trying to determine which pepper will be best for use in your recipes like everyone's favorite Super Bowl Chili or salsa. If you would like more control over the heat levels in your recipes a chili powder may be just the thing for you. There is a vast variety of chili powder on the market from sweet to tangy to "make you want to cry" it is so spicy. Experiment with these in your recipes.

Scoville Rating Pepper Chart

Scoville Rating
Sweet Bell, Pimiento, Sweet Banana
Cherry Pepper
0 to 500
100 to 500
500 to 1500
Ancho and Pasilla
1000 to 2000
500 to 2500
2500 to 9000
5000 to 8000
8000 to 22,000
De Arbol
15,000 to 30,000
30,000 to 50,000
40,000 to 58,000
Bahamian and Datill
100,000 to 300,000
Orange Habanero and Scotch Bonnet
125,000 to 325,000
Dorset Nagia and Nagia Jolokia
800,000 to 1,040,000
Trinidad Scorpion
900,000 to 1,453,700

LOL! Boy Eating 2 Hot Peppers


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    • m0rd0r profile image

      Stoill Barzakov 5 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

      And I thought Halapeno is hot :D

      Thanks for the info.