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Scoville Scale

Scoville Scale

True Leaf Market proudly sells some of the most diverse and exotic varieties of Heirloom and Non-GMO Pepper Seeds from sugary sweet to unrelentingly hot! Let us help you figure out where some of your favorite peppers rank amongst the hottest peppers in the world.

How is Scoville Measured?

The Scoville Scale is used to measure the amount of Capsaicinoid compounds or the "spiciness" of peppers. This measurement can vary greatly even for the exact same type of pepper, so Scoville Heat Units (SHU) are generally measured as an approximate heat range that a pepper falls into.

Until recently, the SHU of a given pepper was still measured using highly subjective organoloptic tests, meaning that peppers are tested via the 5 senses including taste and touch. Scientists understood the flaws in measuring capsaicin levels using taste and touch and development a more scientifically approach by using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

HPLC is a fairly complex process, one which can be used to measure many things beyond the Scoville Scale such as testing pungency in horseradish, onion, garlic, and other "spicy" fruits and vegetables that do not necessarily have any capsaicin.

Since 2011, the measuring of Scoville Heat Units has been almost universally replaced by the improved HPLC method, which allows for scientists to test the levels for potentially fatal amounts of capsaicin in things other than peppers.

Pepper Variety Average Scoville Heat Units
Sweet 0 SHU
Fushimi Pepper ≈ 0 SHU
Tangerine Dream ≈ 0 SHU
Petit Marseillais ≈ 0 SHU
Chervena Chushka ≈ 0 SHU
Jimmy Nardello ≈ 0 SHU
Antohi Romani ≈ 0 SHU
Gypsy Pepper  ≈ 0 SHU
Bell Pepper  ≈ 0 SHU
Giant Marconi Pepper  ≈ 0 SHU
Chocolate Beauty Pepper  ≈ 0 SHU
Mild 1-1000 SHU
Burpee Pepper ≈ 0-200 SHU
Shishito Pepper ≈ 50-200 SHU
Corno di Toro ≈ 0-500 SHU
Pimento ≈ 100-500 SHU
Banana Pepper ≈ 100-500 SHU
Pepperoncini ≈ 100-500 SHU
Tobago Seasoning Pepper ≈ 400-500 SHU
Mariachi Pepper ≈ 500-600 SHU
Santa Fe Grande Pepper  ≈ 500-700 SHU
Italian Pepper ≈ 100-1,000 SHU
Mexibell  ≈ 100-1000 SHU
Cubanelle Pepper   ≈ 100-1000 SHU
Paprika  ≈ 250-1000 SHU
Medium 1,000-10,000 SHU
Georgia Flame ≈ 1,000-1,500 SHU
Mulato Isleno Pepper ≈ 1,000-1,500 SHU
Ancho Pepper ≈ 1000-1,500 SHU
Anaheim Chili ≈ 500-2,500 SHU
Pasilla Pepper ≈ 1,000-2,500 SHU
Chinese Dragon Tongue ≈ 1,500-2,500 SHU
Rocotillo Pepper ≈ 1,500-2,500 SHU
NuMex Big Jim ≈ 2,000-3,000 SHU
Basque Pepper ≈ 400-4,000 SHU
Cascabella ≈ 1,500-4,000 SHU
Garden Salsa   ≈ 1,000-5,000 SHU
Rio Grande Chili ≈ 1,000-5,000 SHU
Caloro Pepper ≈ 1,000-5,000 SHU
Tunisian Baklouti Pepper ≈ 1,000-5,000 SHU
Korean Green Chili ≈ 1,500-5,000 SHU
Red Cherry Pepper ≈ 2,500-5,000 SHU
Guajilla Chile ≈ 2,500-5,000 SHU
Sandia Pepper ≈ 5,000-7,000 SHU
Jalapeño Pepper ≈ 2,500-8,000 SHU
Black Hungarian Pepper  ≈ 2,000-10,000 SHU
Fresno Chili ≈ 2,500-10,000 SHU
Pichit Pepper ≈ 5,000-10,000 SHU
Hot 10,000-100,000 SHU
Hungarian Wax Pepper ≈ 1,000-15,000 SHU
Pure Capsiate ≈ 16,000 SHU
Pueblo Pepper ≈ 5,000-20,000 SHU
Serrano Tampiqueno Pepper  ≈ 8,000-20,000 SHU
Jaloro Pepper ≈ 20,000-25,000 SHU
Giant Ristra ≈ 5,000-30,000 SHU
Bishop's Crown ≈ 5,000-30,000 SHU
Fish Pepper ≈ 5,000-30,000 SHU
Bulgarian Carrot ≈ 5,000-30,000 SHU
Manzano Pepper ≈ 12,000-30,000 SHU
Limòn Pepper ≈ 15,000-30,000 SHU
Chili De Arbol ≈ 15,000-30,000 SHU
Jwala Pepper ≈ 20,000-30,000 SHU
Calabrian Chili ≈ 25,000-40,000 SHU
Maules Red Hot ≈ 30,000-50,000 SHU
Hot Portugal ≈ 30,000-50,000 SHU
Tabasco  ≈ 30,000-50,000 SHU
Cayenne ≈ 30,000-50,000 SHU
Aji Chili ≈ 40,000-50,000 SHU
Santaka Pepper ≈ 40,000-50,000 SHU
Satan's Kiss ≈ 40,000-50,000 SHU
Cuban Chili ≈ 40,000-50,000 SHU
Pequin Pepper  ≈ 30,000-60,000 SHU
Fresh Ginger ≈ 60,000
Patio Fire Chili ≈ 70,000-80,000 SHU
Birds Eye ≈ 50,000-100,000 SHU
Thai Chili    ≈ 50,000-100,000 SHU
Chiltepin Pepper  ≈ 50,000-100,000 SHU
Charleston Hot ≈ 70,000-100,000 SHU
Very Hot 100,000 - 1,000,000 SHU
Malagueta/Black Pepper ≈ 100,000
Dried or Cooked Ginger ≈ 160,000
African Devil ≈ 50,000-175,000 SHU
Jamaican Red Pepper ≈ 100,000-200,000 SHU
Red Cheese Pepper ≈ 100,000-300,000 SHU
Fatalii ≈ 125,000-325,000 SHU
Habanero Pepper ≈ 100,000-350,000 SHU
Scotch Bonnet Pepper ≈ 80,000-400,000 SHU
Red Habanero ≈ 300,000-450,000 SHU
Chocolate Habanero ≈ 425,000-577,000 SHU
HabaNaga Pepper ≈ 500,000-800,000 SHU
NagaBon Pepper ≈ 750,000-800,000 SHU
Raja Mirchi ≈ 800,000-900,000 SHU
Hottest Peppers on Earth >1,000,000 SHU
Ghost Pepper ≈ 850,000-1,040,000 SHU
New Mexico Scorpion ≈ 1,000,000-1,190,000 SHU
Naga Viper ≈ 900,000-1,400,000 SHU
Scorpion Butch T ≈ 1,000,000-1,465,000 SHU
Dorset Naga ≈ 1,000,000-1,600,000 SHU
Chocolate Bhutlah ≈ 1,400,000-2,000,000 SHU
Common Pepper Spray ≈ 2,000,000
Moruga Scorpion ≈ 1,200,000-2,010,000 SHU
Carolina Reaper ≈ 1,600,000-2,200,000 SHU
Dragon's Breath ≈ 2,480,000 SHU (unofficial)
Pepper X ≈ 3,180,000 SHU
Even Spicier Chemicals >5,000,000 SHU
Police Grade Pepper Spray ≈ 5,300,000
Pure Homocapsaicin ≈ 8,600,000 SHU
Pure Nordihydrocapsaicin ≈ 9,100,000 SHU
These Will Probably Kill You > 5,000,000,000 SHU
Tinyatoxin ≈ 5,300,000,000 SHU
Resiniferatoxin ≈ 16,000,000,000 SHU
Resin Spurge (Cactus) ≈ 16,000,000,000 SHU

What is Capsaicin?

Peppers in the Capsicum genus are the only plants that contain Capsaicinoids. However there are a few other plants that contain similar acting spicy compounds, and therefore they can be measured with relative accuracy using the Scoville Scale.

Members of the Zingiberaceae family like Ginger, Black Pepper, and Cardamom do not contain any capsaicin, however they contain similar acting spicy capsaicinoids like Shagaol, Gingerine and Piperine. These compounds can be measured with relative success using the Scoville Scale.

Euphorbia poissonii or The Resin Spurge Cactus has two extremely potent capsaicin-like compounds called Resiniferatoxin and Tinyatoxin. As the names imply these chemicals are so incredibly spicy that they're actually considered toxins and can be fatal or at least the potential to seriously harm if ingested. Like the Ginger Family, the heat level of this species can be measured with fair accuracy using the Scoville Scale even though it contains no capsaicinoids.

"Spicy" Brassicas like horseradish, arugula, wasabi, radish, and mustards cannot have their heat measured using the Scoville Scale. They contain a compound called Allyl Isothiocyanate. This oily chemical causes the short lived aromatic nasally burn that comes with ingesting these roots. This response is too different from the longer lasting tongue burn caused by capsaicinoids to accurately measure them using the same scale.

Onions, Leeks, Garlic, and Shallots contain a different pungent burning chemical called Allicin. While their heat also cannot be measured using the Scoville Scale they actually have their own heat potency scale called the Pyruvate Scale. Both scales use HPLC to measure the potency of their irritating chemicals.

Finally there are many unrelated spices that unfortunately have no real way of having the potency of their heat measured. Eugenol is likely the heat causing compound for the majority if not all of these spices. These include Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, Cor Cloves, Bay Leaves, Anise, Star Anise, Licorice, Fennel, Cumin, and basically any other spice you might find in a Garam Masala.

Hottest Pepper in the World

Currently, the official hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper which ranges at 1,200,000-2,010,000 SHU. The breeder of the notorious Carolina Reaper, Ed Currie, is currently breeding a new strain of the Carolina Reaper called "Pepper X" which has unofficially tested at an unimaginable 3,180,000 SHU, nearly twice that of a regular Carolina Reaper. A Welsh breeder named Mike Smith recently came to fame with his Dragon's Breath pepper which tested at an blistering 2,480,000 SHU.

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