What Is The Scoville Scale?


Learn about The Scoville Scale. The answers to your burning questions (yes, that pun was intended!). Find out if your favorite hot sauce is really all that hot on the official range of hotness.

What Is The Scoville Scale?

The Scoville Scale is used to measure the hotness of a specific pepper. To do this, it measures the chemical called capsaicin, which is what makes a pepper hot. This scale helps you to know that even though your pepper, or hot sauce is very potent, there are even stronger ones out there.

Pepper and Hot Sauce Ratings

Most bottles of hot sauce will display a Scoville rating on them. To help give you some context of the heat levels, original Tabasco sauce has a rating between 2,500-5,000 Scoville units. When you consider hot peppers, some of the hottest peppers that are easy to obtain such as habaneros, have a Scoville rating between 100,000-350,000. The Carolina Reaper pepper measures between 1,400,000 and 2,200,000. In comparison to the hottest known pepper, the police weapon pepper spray has a rating of 5,300,000 units. This gives an idea of where each one falls on the scale in comparison.

While so many peppers are hot, the bell pepper has a Scoville rating of zero. There is no heat from this pepper. A bell pepper only has sweet goodness.

Fun Fact

Did you know the majority of capsaicin, which is the chemical that makes a pepper hot, is found in its seeds? If you remove the seeds from a pepper this will reduce some of the heat of a hot pepper.

This scale allows you to find out the level of hotness on a given hot sauce or hot pepper. The Scoville scale provides context so that you can tell what you might like and what you might not have any desire to try. Check out the Scoville scale below to learn all about your favorite peppers and where they fall on the scale of spice. If you like hot sauces, check out What Is Sambal? As well as What Is Sriracha? Most importantly though, learn what you should do if you eat a hot pepper, in Help! I Ate A Hot Pepper!

What is your favorite way to use hot peppers?

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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