About Heat

The Scoville Heat Unit

Wilbur Scoville

A pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville invented the Scoville Scale in 1912 to measure the heat of peppers. A "Scoville Unit" is actually a measure of capsaicin (the chemical in hot peppers that is responsible for their heat).

Scoville's test was a comparative taste test that is considered subjective by today's standards. A more sophisticated method is in use today, but in honor of Wilbur Scoville, the unit of measure is still called the Scoville Unit.

The capsaicin level in peppers can vary from plant to plant due to local environmental conditions. This means that a pepper's rating is an average measure.

How Much Heat Can You Handle?

The Scoville Heat Unit


Scoville Units

Primary Source

Pure Capsaicin

500,000 - 15,000,000

Chemistry Lab

Habanero Pepper

100,000 - 300,000

Yucatan, Caribbean

Scotch Bonnet

100,000 - 250,000

Jamaica, Caribbean, Belize

Jamaican Hot

100,000 - 200,000

Jamaica, Caribbean Islands

Tabasco Pepper

100,000 - 200,000

Central America, Mexico

Thai Pepper

50,000 - 100,000

SE Asia, California

Cayenne Pepper

30,000 - 50,000

Louisiana, Mexico

Serrano Pepper

10,000 - 25,000

Mexico, SW United States

Jalapeņo Pepper

2,500 - 5,000

Mexico, Texas

Poblano Pepper

1,000 - 1,500

Mexico, California

Bell Pepper

0 - 25

Holland, California

The Ghost Chile - Bhut Jolokia

It's been more than five years since an Indian "Mystery Chile" was making headlines, and claims for such a new variety, called "Ghost Chile" or Bhut Jolokia, were published in print, and all over the Internet. With almost one million Scoville Units, it was supposed to be several times hotter than the Red Savina, the current holder of that title is in the Guinness World Records. Time and again the hot pod popped up in the news, yet no one in the Western world had seen it. That has changed recently, as new claims for such a potent pepper came from the UK, and also from the renowned Chile Pepper Institute of the New Mexico State University.

Read more about the "Ghost Chile"