1. Food

The Scoville Scale

What is the Scoville Scale and How is it Used?


The Scoville Scale is a system used to rate the heat level produced by capsaicin in chili peppers. The scale was invented by Wilbur Scoville, an American pharmacist, in 1912. Although the original scale used actual people to test the heat of peppers, today testing is performed via highly accurate liquid chromatography.

Capsaicin, the compound which gives chili peppers their heat, is an irritant that causes a hot burning sensation on the skin and taste buds. Capsaicin can be found in plants belonging to the genus Capsicum, to which chili peppers belong. The level of capsaicin varies greatly from species to species and is sometimes undetectable to the human tongue.

The Scoville scale ranges from zero to approximately 1.5 million for peppers, and well beyond for synthetic chemicals. The Scoville rating may vary within pepper species, so the rating is generally provided in a range format. Below you will find a table of the most common chili peppers and hot sauces, and their rating on the Scoville scale. Use the scale to determine the spiciness of your favorite foods and peppers!

The Scoville Scale

Food ItemScoville Rating
Sweet Bell Peppers0
Cubanelle Peppers100-1000
Frank's RedHot Sauce450
Anaheim Peppers500-2,000
Poblano Peppers1,000-2,000
Tabasco Original Hot Sauce2500-5000
Jalapeño Peppers2,500-5,000
Chipotle Peppers 5,000-10,000
Serrano Peppers8,00-25,000
Cayenne Peppers30,000-50,000
Thai Peppers50,000-10,000
Bird's Eye Peppers100,000-225,000
Scotch Bonnet Peppers100,000-325,000
Habenero Peppers100,000-350,000
Pure Capsaicin15,000,000
  1. About.com
  2. Food
  3. Food Reference
  4. Food Reference Charts
  5. The Scoville Scale

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.