We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Scoville Heat Unit?

L. S. Wynn
By L. S. Wynn
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Scoville Heat Units are used to specify of the hotness of food, specifically chili peppers. In 1912, Wilbur Scoville devised a system to determine how hot foods are, using a panel of tasters to provide heat scores for different peppers. Although Wilbur's name is still used for the scale, the current method is much more scientific.

The sensation of heat that is experienced from eating certain peppers is attributable to a chemical called capsaicin. The more capsaicin present in a pepper, the hotter it will seem. Although the Scoville scale spans from 0 to 16 million, the American Spice Traders Association (ASTA) set the standard for conversion from ppm (parts per million) of capsaicin to Scoville Heat Units as 1:15. This means that a sweet bell pepper has a score of 0 because there is no capsaicin present, and pure capsaicin crystals have 15 to 16 million units.

As is evident from the table below, Scoville scores vary widely from one species to the next. The hottest pepper ever grown is the Naga Jolokia from Assam, India, which has a Scoville score of 855,000. There are also variations of heat from one pepper to the next within the same species; growing conditions, soil, and other factors have an affect on the amount of capsaicin within a given pepper. The numbers listed below represent the average minimum amount detectable within the item in question, but people should keep in mind that the amount of capsaicin in any single type of pepper can vary greatly:

Scoville Units

15,000,000 Pure Capsaicin
5,300,000 Police-Grade Pepper Spray
2,000,000 Common Pepper Spray
855,000 Naga Jolokia
580,000 Red Savina™ Habanero
350,000 Habanero Pepper
325,000 Scotch Bonnet Pepper
200,000 Jamaican Hot Pepper
100,000 Thai Pepper
50,000 Cayenne Pepper
30,000 Manzano Pepper
23,000 Serrano Pepper
10,000 Chipotle Pepper
8,000 Jalapeno Pepper
5,000 Tabasco™ Sauce
2,500 Rocotilla Pepper
2,000 Ancho Pepper
2,000 Poblano Pepper
1,000 Coronado Pepper
500 Pepperoncini Pepper
500 Pimento
0 Sweet Bell Pepper
DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By submariner — On Oct 09, 2010

I can handle heat, but I have to say the Ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia Chili for those of you who don't know) is ridiculously hot. The heat creeps up on you. at first its no hotter than a habanero, but after about ten minutes it really sets in. These peppers are so hot, there is no reason a human should want to eat one. They are devices of torture.

I ate a bite of one out of a dare when I was on vacation with some friends on Oahu. The pain lasts for about an hour and a half, and you literally don't want to do anything. These peppers seriously will bring a six foot seven man to the ground. I've even heard they have sent people to the hospital.

By GiraffeEars — On Oct 09, 2010

I was born in Jamaica so hot peppers are a part of life for me. I love spicy foods, and I especially love scotch bonnets. Although a scotch bonnet is closely related to the habanero, they have a different flavor. Scotch bonnets make a good batch of Jerk. They are incredibly spicy, but when they are ripe, the sweet undertones set them apart from pure fire. They may not be the hottest pepper o the heat scale, but they certainly have the most flavor.

By cary — On Apr 02, 2010

How interesting. I'd love to know the scientific method by which this is determined now - I'm assuming the have some way to measure the amount of capsaicin directly.

I can - with relatively little distress - eat a raw jalapeno, but I can't handle anything hotter than that!

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.