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Scoville Scale for Peppers

Updated on January 1, 2011
Chili Peppers
Chili Peppers

The Scoville scale for peppers is a measure of the heat component of a chili pepper. Capsaicin is the chemical compound contained in these peppers which stimulates heat-receptors in the tongue. The number of Scoville heat units, commonly referred to as SHU, indicates the amount of capsaicin present in the pepper. Scoville Scale for Peppers is important to know as many hot sauces use the scoville scale as a measure in advertising their products.

The Naga Viper Pepper is a genetically engineered pepper by three of the hottest known peppers Bhut Jolokia, Naga Morich and Trinidad Scorpion. Naga Viper Pepper, on the scoville scale, measure  1,359,000 units.

Scoville Scale for Peppers


 Wilbur Scoville developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912 and hence the name Scoville units to measure how hot or spicy something is. A solution of the pepper extract is diluted in sugar water until the 'heat' is no longer detectable to a panel of tasters. The degree of dilution gives the measure on the Scoville scale in scoville units. For example, a sweet pepper that contains no capsaicin at all, will have a 0 scoville units. The hottest chiles, such as habaneros or the Ghost Chili Pepper, have a scoville rating of 300,000 or more, indicating that their extract has to be diluted 300,000-fold before the capsaicin is undetectable.

In March 2010, India’s security forces announced that they are planning to use the world’s hottest chilli powders made from Ghost Chili Pepper in hand grenades to control riots and during insurgency operations in the remote northeast. They will replace explosives in small hand grenades with a certain variety of red chilli to immobilise a person without killing him.

The chilli found in India's northeast regions like Assam generates so much heat it was enough to startle a person for a while when used as a weapon. The bhut jolokia chilli (aka Ghost Chili Pepper) is said to generate 1,000,000 heat units on the Scoville scale for peppers which is a thousand times more than a common kitchen chilli.

The chilli will also be used as a food supplement for soldiers deployed in cold weather conditions to raise their body temperatures. Scientists are also hoping to use a coat of the chilli powder in fences around army barracks as its pungent smell keeps wild animals away. Pepper spray is another commonly used riot control agent in many parts of the world

Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in South and Central America since about 7,500 B.C. Some of the most common chili pepper species are: Bell peppers, Cayenne and Tabasco peppers, Habanero chilies and Scotch bonnets, South American aji peppers, Aji, the Peruvian term for chili pepper, South American rocoto peppers.

Scoville scale for peppers

scoville scale pic
scoville scale pic

Scoville units for peppers

Scoville rating 
Sweet bell pepper 
New Mexico chilies
Poblano pepper 
1,000 - 2,000 
Tabasco sauce 
2,500 - 8,000 
Cayenne pepper
30,000 - 50,000
Thai pepper
50,000 - 100,000
Habanero chile
100,000 - 350,000
pepper spray


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    • Doctore Evile profile image

      Doctore Evile 

      6 years ago from the Northeast of the U.S.A

      Great detail. I always wanted to know this as a pepper-lover.

    • Mastro Geppetto profile image

      Mastro Geppetto 

      6 years ago from Rhode Island

      COOL ---- I mean HOT. Makes my head and other body parts itch.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      Thanks for your information on the Scoville scale! I have linked this to my hub, "How to make chili, spicy or mild".

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hottest pepper trinidadian scorpion jalapenos chipotle and habaneros got nothing on it!!!

    • profile image

      Tanzeeb Shawkat Ali Samin 

      7 years ago

      ate 4 pure capsaicins..whooh!!HOT!

    • electricsky profile image


      7 years ago from North Georgia

      I love peppers but can't stand the burning after eating them. Have you ever rated the Chipotle pepper which I think must be the hottest one yet.

    • profile image

      Scoville Scale 

      8 years ago

      i too am trying to promote a page about the Scoville Scale and Growing Chillies. Please check it out

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Just a little addition. I bought the extract listed toward the top above police grade pepper spray (The Source), lol. It hurts...a lot. But the scale is interesting nonetheless.

    • Majidsiko profile image


      8 years ago from Kenya

      Chilli grower Woody Woods, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, is laying claim to the world's hottest variety of pepper. Tests carried out by Warwick University rate the Infinity chilli at 1,067,286 on the Scoville Scale, which is used to measure the heat of peppers - hotter than the Bhut Jolokia variety which is used for crowd control by the Indian Army.

    • katiem2 profile image


      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      I love this Hub, I love peppers mostly the ones in the middle scale...What a great and helpful topic. Thanks, Peace :)

    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      amazing hub well done thanks


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