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The Scoville Scale of Hotness - Capsaicin Level


See a more comprehensive and
   Colorful table of your favorite chilies
   and their line-up.....                

What gives chili peppers their characteristic punch, and makes our faces turn red and sweaty, is a compound called capsaicin. Foraging mammals give capsaicin a wide berth, which usually prevents the plants from being gobbled up. But some people can't seem to get enough of it.


The burning sensation of chili is caused by the presence of capsaicin in it. The word 'capsaicin' means 'bite', thus denoting its fiery nature. The cream white seeds contain higher levels of capsaicin than the skin, thus the seeds are hotter to taste.

Capsaicin is produced in the chili fruit as a means of protection from mammals. In some Asian and African countries, the small hot chilies are also named bird's pod as they offer a delicious meal to birds. When consumed, capsaicin acts immediately on the pain receptors of the mouth and throat to produce the burning sensation.

Birds do not have these pain receptors to capsaicin to cause them pain. Thus, chilies, no matter how hot they can be, offer a fruitful meal to birds. In fact, birds help in the propagation of chilies.

Capsaicin can survive the process of heating and storage, thus retaining its characteristic fiery taste throughout cooking. These handy advantages also explain why it is so popularly used in culinary. It can be used to create wide varieties of recipes, offering endless choices to different demands from diners.

The degree of hotness, or the comparative capsaicin level, can be measured on the Scoville Scale. Each Scoville Unit measures part per million of capsaicin in a chilli.

The Scoville Scale

More pictures on common chilies on this scale


Scoville units

Pure capsaicin

15 000 000

Police chili spray

  5 000 000

Naga jolokia

  1 000 000

Habanero chili, Scotch bonnet

    100 000 300 000

Jamaica pepper, ricoto

    100 000 200 000

Africa birdseye

    100 000

Thai pepper

      50 000 100 000

Cayenne pepper, tabasco

      30 000 50 000

Jalapeno pepper

         2 000 8 000

Anaheim pepper

            500 2 000

Bell pepper


So the only chili which is feared-not is the bell pepper, as it have zero capsaicin in it. The most feared, the hottest chili in the Guinness Book of Records is the naga jolokia from Bangladesh and Assam, India. Try it if you dare the devil!




Cherry pepper


Naga jolokia


'Sweet' bell peppers

The lower Scoville components


The hottest chili in the world.


The zero Scoville peppers


  The Scoville Scale   1 2  3


Scotch bonnet







Naga jolokia, Bhut jolokian
The hottest chili on records..... read the new record!



Orange habanero


Anaheim peppers


Thai chilies


Malaysian birdseye chili





The Scoville Scale   1 2  3





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