The Intensity of Chili Peppers

What chili peppers are hot, and what chili peppers are not?

Chili peppers are measured using the Scoville scale.  The more Scoville scale units (SHUs), the greater the amount of Capsaicin present in the pepper.  Capsaicin is a chemical that stimulates the nerve endings in the skin.  It’s what gives a pepper its heat.

Pure Capsaicin clocks in at about 15,000,000- 16,000,000 SHUs.  That’s pretty fucking hot, I doubt it’s a good Idea for anyone to even come in contact with that shit.  The stuff that police use as pepper spray comes in at a searing 5,000,000- 5,300,000.  Still pretty hot.  If that’s not a deterrent, I don’t know what is.

Moving on to actual chili peppers.  The pepper with the highest rating on the is the naga viper chili.  It was created in the United Kingdom by cross breeding the three hottest peppers known to the world.  Researchers tested it and found that it measured1,359,000 SHUs.

Naga Viper Chili

Rated at about 580,000 Scoville units is the red savina habanero.  Which is a specially bred version of the standard habanero chili.

Red Savina Habanero

Moving down the scale you’ll find the habanero chili and the Scotch Bonnet.  Both of these peppers clock in at around 100,000- 500,000 SHUs.

Habanero and Scotch Bonnet

At 50,000- 100,000 SHUs is the bird’s-eye chili.  The Thai name for this chili translates to literally mean “mouse dropping chili”.

Bird's Eye Chili

The cayenne pepper comes in at a respectable 30,000- 50,000 Scoville units.  Cayenne is typically dried and ground.

Cayenne Pepper

Clocking in at about 27,000 on the Scoville scale are these chili peppers.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Clocking in at 10,000-25,000 SHUs is the serrano pepper.  This is the chili that I most often use when I’m making chili.

Serrano Peppers

The popular jalapeño pepper clocks in at 2,500- 8,000 scoville units.  This really puts this list into perspective.

Jalapeño Peppers

At 500-2,500 SHUs we have the poblano pepper.  A fairly mild chili.

Poblano Pepper

At 100-500 SHUs we have the pimento.  Commonly used in stuffing olives, or making pimento cheese.

Pimento Peppers

Right at 0 on the Scoville scale is the bell pepper.  Bell peppers have no significant amount of heat.

Bell Peppers




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