The Scoville Scale January 14 2015

Most hot sauce fans have heard of the Scoville Scale, and they know that the higher the score on the scale, the hotter the hot sauce or pepper. Most, however, aren’t too sure as to what the Scoville Scale actually is, or what its origins are. What makes hot sauce and its main ingredient-chilis/peppers so great is the variation it gives us in terms of heat and flavour. Because there are so many different peppers and variations, hot sauces and the peppers that are used to make them are measured by Scoville scale. The hotter the pepper, the higher the number of Scoville units it possesses.

The Scoville heat scale was developed by Wilbur Lincoln Scoville, a pharmacist, whose method was created by adding capsaicin oil (the stuff that makes peppers hot), to sugar water, and  giving it to a group of tasters-adjusting the amount of capsaicin oil more and more. With so many peppers in existence, of such a large variety of heat, the Scoville Scale is widely used to measure heat and provides hot sauce lovers with an idea of which hot sauce to go for, depending on how much heat they can take.

The heat factor of peppers is measured in multiples of 100 units. The Scoville Scale ranges from zero units for the sweet bell pepper, to the Naga Jolokia (Ghost Pepper), which rates at over a million Scoville units. Over the last few years, however, there are claims of peppers that have now passed the Ghost Pepper as the hottest in the world. In 2010, a pepper, called the Naga Viper, rated at over 1.3 million Scoville units was introduced. Then came what is now called the hottest pepper-so hot it has landed itself in the Guinness book of records. The pepper, called the Carolina Reaper, was created by Ed Currie- founder of the PuckerButt Pepper Company.  This monster pepper peaked at levels of 2.2 million Scoville units. According to Ed, he came across certain nutrients that increase the heat of peppers! So, if you are daring enough, and want a real thrill-give one of PuckerButt’s Hot Sauce that contains this insanely hot pepper.

So now that you have a greater understanding of the Scoville rating, you may just have even more love for your favorite hot sauces, and a better idea of what your hot sauce preferences would be. All we can say is-if it comes with a warning label, you better be prepared for some pain!