Geek Trivia

The Spicy Heat Of Chili Peppers Is Measured Using The?

Capsaicin Chart
Scoville Scale
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Chili peppers resting on a wooden cutting board.
Andrew Taylor/Flickr

Answer: Scoville Scale

Although we might use colorful language to describe how hot a pepper is, the measurement (subjective assessment) of the spicy heat of chili peppers is measured on the Scoville scale, named after its inventor, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, who invented the spicy scale back in 1912.

The full name of the procedure used to determine the Scoville rating is known as the Scoville organoleptic test wherein an exact weight of a given pepper variety, completely dried, is dissolved in alcohol to extract the heat components (the capsaicinoids). The extracted capsaicinoids are then diluted in a solution of sugar water and given to taste testers who rank the solution. Although the scale is widely used, it’s precisely this method, the human tasting element, that is criticized as a weakness. Different tests using the same solutions can yield responses from taste testers with a margin of difference in their ratings of up to 50 percent.

That being said, the scale is long-standing and is still widely used. The Scoville scale rating for peppers ranges from 0-100 for non-spicy peppers like bell peppers to 1,000-10,000 for varieties of common peppers like jalapenos, all the way up to 800,000-3,200,000 for ultra-potent chili peppers selectively bred to be spicy like Pepper X, Carolina Reapers, and Dragon’s Breath.