Heat Scale Updated

Fiery Foods Manager Capsaicin Leave a Comment

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by Dave DeWitt

In 1989, with the help of Dr. Ben Villalon of the Texas A&M Agricultural Experiment Station and Dr. Paul W. Bosland of New Mexico State University’s Department of Plant and Environmental Science, I compiled and published the first chile heat scale in Chile Pepper magazine. The heat scale proved to be enormously popular and was reprinted (sometimes with credit!) in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, books, Web sites, and catalogs.


Fiery Foods Official Heat Scale


Scoville Units

1 Million

Chile Varieties and Commercial Products

‘Bhut Jolokia’


Habanero, Scotch Bonnet, South American chinenses, African birdseye


Santaka, Chiltepin, Rocoto, Chinese kwangsi


Piquin, Cayenne Long, Tabasco, Thai prik khee nu, Pakistan dundicut


de Arbol; crushed red pepper; habanero hot sauce


Early Jalapeño, Aj Amarillo, Serrano; Tabasco ® Sauce


TAM Mild Jalapeño, Mirasol; Cayenne Large Red Thick; Louisiana hot sauce


Sandia, Cascabel, Yellow Wax Hot


Ancho, Pasilla, Española Improved; Old Bay Seasoning


NuMex Big Jim, NuMex 6-4, chili powder


NuMex R-Naky, Mexi-Bell, Cherry; canned green chiles, Hungarian hot paprika


Pickled pepperoncini


Mild Bells, Pimiento, Sweet Banana, U.S. paprika


Despite the accuracy of HPLC testing, we should remember, as Dr. Villalon points out, “Capsaicin can and is quantitatively measured by high performance liquid chromatography, to exactness for that particular pod, that particular plant, that particular location, and that particular season only.” Thus, chiles will often deviate from published heat levels because of local environmental conditions. As there are many factors affecting the pungency of any variety, and there are many varieties within the various species and pod types, the measurements listed below are necessarily approximate.

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