How To Use The Scoville Scale

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The Scoville Scale is a standardized measurement of the spicy heat in peppers. It is used to rate how hot different peppers are. Pure capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot, is rated at 16 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU). A bell pepper has zero SHU.

The chart below shows the ratings for some popular peppers:

Pepper and Variety SHU

Sweet Bell 0

Hungarian Yellow Wax 0

Banana 0

Cayenne Pepper 30,000-50,000

Jalapeno 5,000-20,000

Chipotle 10,000-25,000

Tabasco 15,000-30,000

Paprika 100-1,000

Serrano 25,000-50,000

Habanero 100,000 – 350,000

Cayenne Pepper 100,000 – 350,000+*

Carolina Reaper 1.5 Million+* * Estimated

The Scoville Scale was originally developed by a pharmacist. It measures the heat of peppers. It does this by measuring how much sugar water you need to add to the pepper until you can’t taste the pepper anymore. That’s a pretty good measure of “heat.”

The Scoville Scale has it’s uses in cooking. You want to add just enough crushed red pepper to your dish so that it has a little kick without being overpowering.

Here’s how you figure out how much crushed red pepper you need:

I put one part sugar and two parts water in a little bowl and stir it until it is all dissolved. Then I pour a tiny bit of crushed red pepper into the mix, stir, and if I can still taste the pepper, I add more sugar and stir again. I continue adding sugar until I can’t taste the pepper anymore. Then I know that a teaspoon of this mix is roughly equivalent to 100,000 scovilles units of heat.

__So if you want to know how many teaspoons of sugar water it takes to neutralize one teaspoon of crushed red pepper, just divide 100,000 by the number of teaspoons in your recipe.

The Scoville Scale is a measure of spicy heat. It was developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist from the United States. The scale is a measurement of how much sugar water it takes to dilute the capsaicinoids (the chemical compound that gives peppers their “heat”) until there is no longer any detectable heat.

The Scoville scale has been criticized since its creation because it doesn’t account for the amount of capsaicin present in a pepper, but rather only the amount of capsaicin that can be detected by human taste buds.

The Scoville Scale is used to measure how hot chili peppers are. It was developed by a pharmacist, and is not quite the same as the spiciness of peppers that we experience in our mouths. But it’s useful for comparing different kinds of peppers, or foods that use peppers as their main seasoning.

Here’s how it works:

First, different parts of the pepper have different amounts of capsaicin, which is the thing that makes a pepper hot. The heat/capsaicin balance is what makes eating a habanero (100 times hotter than Tabasco sauce) not just an unpleasant experience, but also kind of boring — once you’ve got it under control, there isn’t much left to taste besides vinegar.

We could say that Tabasco sauce has a higher Scoville rating than a habanero because it has less capsaicin per gram; but you can get more capsaicin into a liquid solution (the “extract” rating) by crushing the pepper and dissolving it in something acidic — like tomato juice — so I’d recommend using the “heat units” rating if you’re doing experiments with peppers.

Taste is affected by how many molecules of capsaicin are on your tongue at

The Scoville scale is used to measure the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers. The scale was created in 1912 by American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville for use in his work developing a test for the strength of pharmaceuticals, particularly anesthetics. To measure the ‘heat’ of a pepper, a panel of five testers would sample each pepper and compare its taste to that of a reference pepper. The tester would then dilute the solution with sugar water until its spiciness no longer matched that of the reference. The average amount of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale.”

The Scoville scale is a measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers and other spicy foods, as reported in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, whose 1912 method is known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test.

The scale is a measure of the dilution of pure dried pepper extract required to make it indistinguishable from sugar water by taste. A sweet pepper has a SHU rating of 0, meaning no capsaicin at all. The hottest peppers are above 350,000 SHU; the most deadly poison known has an SHU rating of 2.0.

The Scoville scale is a standard way of measuring the heat in a chili pepper. The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. Its zero point is pure sugar water—the sweetest thing you can eat. The hottest known pepper today, the Carolina Reaper, clocks in at 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units.

The amount of capsaicinoids, the chemicals that make peppers hot, determines where on the scale a pepper will fall. A higher capsaicinoid content means a higher Scoville rating. But heat isn’t really about how many molecules are in a pepper—it’s about how they interact with your body and your brain.

Full of water and fiber, peppers can’t deliver much heat to your mouth quickly. So their effect builds slowly as the heat travels through your body and eventually hits your nervous system.

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