Scoville Scale

Wilber LincolnScoville
(1865 – 1942)

An American pharmacist who was best known for his creation of "The Scoville Organoleptic Test", now standardized as the Scoville scale,In honor of Dr. Wilbur who devised the test and scale in 1912 while working at the Parke-Davis pharmaceutical company to measure piquancy, or "hotness", of various chilli peppers.

Scoville Scale

It is a subjective dilution-taste procedure. In the original test, Professor Scoville blended an alcohol extract of the capsaicin oil from a measured amount of dried pepper then added incrementally to a solution of sugar in water and a panel of "testers" (usually five) then sipped the solution, in increasingly diluted concentrations, until they reached the point that the liquid no longer burned their mouths. A number was then assigned to each chilli pepper based on how much it needed to be diluted before they could no longer taste (feel) the heat.

Therefore, sweet chilies which contain no capsaicin have a Scoville rating of zero, or no detectable heat, even when they are undiluted. On the other end of the spectrum, the hottest chillies, such as Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion chilli, have a rating of 800,000 or higher which indicates their extract has to be diluted 800,000 times before the capsaicin heat is undetectable. The shortfall of the Scoville scale test for peppers is that it relies on human perception, which is certainly subjective.

Today, chilli and spice heat is now measured by a more scientific method known as High Performance Liquid Chromatography (sometimes referred to as high-pressure liquid chromatography), or HPLC.The measurements are used in a mathematical formula that weights them according to their relative capacity to produce a sensation of heat.Which are then formulated into Scoville heat units or SHU.

It must be noted that these Numerical test results will vary depending upon cultivation conditions and the uncertainty of the laboratory methods used to assess the capsaicinoid content. Pungency values for any chilli variety are variable, due to expected variation within a species, which would depend on seed lineage, growing conditions and environmental factors i.e, climate and even the soil in which they are grown.

The inaccuracies described in the measurement methods above also contribute to the imprecision of these values. When interpreting Scoville ratings, this should be kept in mind

List of Scoville ratings


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1. ^ K. V. Peter (ed), Handbook of Herbs and Spices Vol 1, CRC Press, 2001 ISBN 0-8493-1217-5 page 120
2. ^ The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 1912; 1:453–4
3. ^ abTainter, Donna R.; Anthony T. Grenis (2001). Spices and Seasonings. Wiley-IEEE. p. 30. ISBN 0-471-35575 5.. "Interlab variation [for the original Scoville scale] could be as high as + / - 50%. However, labs that run these procedures could generate reasonably repeatable results."
4. ^Uhl (1996), op. cit. "The HPLC measures the capsaicinoid(s) in ppm, which can then be converted to Scoville units using a conversion factor of 15, 20 or 30 depending on the capsaicinoid." This would make capsaicin 15,000,000
5. ^Dykes, Brett Michael (3 December 2010). "World’s hottest pepper is ‘hot enough to strip paint’". Yahoo! News. / blogs / lookout / world-hottest-pepper-hot-enough-strip-paint.html. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
6. ^"Grantham's Infinity chilli named hottest in world". BBC News. 2011-02-18.
7. ^Shaline L. Lopez (2007). "NMSU is home to the world's hottest chile pepper". Archived from the original on 2007-02-19.
8.  . Retrieved 2007-02-21.
9.^"The Scoville Scale".


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