The actual hotness of any particular pepper depends on many different factors such as location, the amount of water, etc. The Scoville scale (named after Wilbur Scoville, its creator) measures the hotness of a chili pepper, as defined by the amount of capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin is the stuff that makes a pepper hot. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present.
The Scoville method takes a solution of the pepper extract and dilutes it in sugar syrup until the "heat" is no longer detectable to a panel of (usually five) taste testers. The degree of dilution equates to a measure on the Scoville scale.
For example, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (world's hottest pepper) has a SHU of 2,009,231. This means the pepper extract has to be diluted a little over 2,000,000 times before the capsaicin is not detectable.
Measurements in Scoville Heat Units (SHU)
|Trinidad Moruga Scorpion||1,200,000||-||2,009,231|
|Naga Jolokia Pepper (a.k.a. Ghost Pepper)||800,000||-||1,041,000|
|Red Savina Habanero Pepper||350,000||-||575,000|
|Scotch Bonnet Pepper||150,000||-||325,000|
|Orange Habanero Pepper||150,000||-||325,000|
|Chipotle Pepper, Jalapeno Pepper||3,000||-||8,000|
|Ancho Pepper, Pablano Pepper||1,000||-||2,000|
|Sweet Bell Pepper||0||-||0|
Common grade pepper spray is similar to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and about twice as hot as the Naga Jolokia (a.k.a. Ghost Pepper) at approximately 2,000,000 Scoville Units.
Police quality pepper spray is over 5,000,000 Scoville Heat Units.
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