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The Scoville Heat Rating System

      The Scoville Heat Unit Scale is the industry standard in which the heat of chile peppers is measured and compared. This scale is named after the man who developed it, Wilbur Scoville, who was a pharmacologist with Parke Davis. In 1912 he developed a method which used a panel of five taste testers. They took exact weights of chile peppers and dissolved the capsaicin in alcohol. This solution was then diluted with sugar water until it was no longer detectable to the palate. For example, if the dilution required was 1,000 units of water to 1 unit of alcohol solution then the sample was said to measure 1,000 Scoville Units. At least three panel members had to agree before a value was assigned. Although the development of this method was innovative in classifying the chile peppers according to heat, it was highly subjective and imprecise because it involved human testers.

      Today high-pressure liquid chromatography, a sophisticated analytical method which uses a Liquid Chromatograph, is used to measure capsaicin content in peppers. This method is much more accurate and precise. It measures the capsaicin levels in parts per million (mg/L). This is then converted to Scoville Units.

The Official Chile Heat Scale

Rating

Approximate Scoville Units

Chile Varieties

1

100-500

Anaheim

2

500-1000

Poblano

3

1,000-1,500

Passilla

4

1,500-2,500

Cherry Hots

5

2,500-5,000

Jalapeno,Red Fresno

6

5,000-15,000

Serrano, Yellow Caribe

7

15,000-30,000

de Arbol, Asian hots

8

30,000-50,000

Thai, Rocoto, Cayenne

9

50,000-100,000

Rocoto, Aji

10

100,000-300,000

Habanero, Scotch Bonnet