Scoville Heat Units

For a long time, hot pepper fruit has been known all over the world as a delicious spice with a characteristic smell and taste.

The pungency of capsaicinoids and pepper containing preparations can be expressed in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). It is a series of “heat units” that range from 0 to 16 million depending on the pepper’s concentration of the chemical capsaicin. The greater the number of Scoville Heat Units, the hotter the pepper.

Method measurement involves adding sugar to a solution until one can no longer taste the heat of the pepper. The more sugar, the higher the spice, the greater the measurement in Scoville units.

Wilbur Scoville developed a scale in 1912 to measure the “heat levels” of chili peppers. Approximately one part per million of “heat” is equivalent i to 1.5 Scoville units.

Sweet peppers have 0 SHU, chilies with a slight bite may have 100 to 500 SHU, and the blistering habaneros have between 200,000 and 300,000.

However, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method has replaced the organoleptic method since the HPLC method is considered the most reliable and accurate method for determining both the amount of capsaicin and pungency in chili samples. HPLC is currently the most popular and reliable technique for the analysis of capsaicinoids.

Example relative spiciness of peppers:
Habanero: 200,000 Scovilles
Habanero Red: 150,000 – 325,000 Scovilles
Habanero Orange: 150,000 – 325,000 Scovilles
Hot Cayenne: 30,000 – 50,000 Scovilles
Tabasco: 30,000 – 50,000 Scovilles
Bird’s Eye: 100,000 - 225,000
Scoville Heat Units

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