Scoville Units and What they Mean in BBQ

Scoville Units and What they Mean in BBQ


Scoville Heat Units are used to specify of the hotness of food, specifically chili peppers. In 1912 Wilbur Scoville, devised a system to determine how hot foods are. He used a panel of tasters to provide heat scores for different peppers. Although we still use Wilbur's name for the Scoville Heat Units, the current method is much more scientific.

The sensation of heat that we experience from eating certain peppers is attributable to a chemical called capsaicin. The more capsaicin present in a pepper, the hotter it will seem. Although the Scoville scale spans from 0 to 16 million, the American Spice Traders Association (ASTA) set the standard for conversion from ppm (parts per million) of capsaicin to Scoville Heat Units as 1:15. This means that a sweet bell pepper has 0 Scoville units because there is no capsaicin present, and pure capsaicin crystals have 15,000,000 Scoville Heat Units (or 16 million, depending on who you ask.

As is evident from the table below, Scoville Heat Units vary widely from one species to the next.

The hottest pepper ever grown is the Naga Jolokia from Assam, India which has a Scoville score of 855,000! There are also variations of heat from one pepper to the next within the same species; growing conditions, soil and other factors have an affect on the amount of Capsaicin within a given pepper. The Scoville Heat Units listed below represent the average minimum amount detectable within the item in question, but keep in mind that the amount of Capsaicin in any single type of pepper can vary greatly:

Scoville Units

15,000,000 Pure Capsaicin  
5,300,000 Police-Grade Pepper Spray  
2,000,000 Common Pepper Spray  
855,000 Naga Jolokia  
580,000 Red SavinaTM Habanero  
350,000 Habanero Pepper  
325,000 Scotch Bonnet Pepper  
200,000 Jamaican Hot Pepper  
100,000 Thai Pepper  
50,000 Cayenne Pepper  
30,000 Manzano Pepper  
23,000 Serrano Pepper  
10,000 Chipotle Pepper  
8,000 Jalapeno Pepper  
5,000 TabascoTM Sauce  
2,500 Rocotilla Pepper  
2,000 Ancho Pepper  
2,000 Poblano Pepper  
1,000 Coronado Pepper  
500 Pepperoncini Pepper  
500 Pimento  
0 Sweet Bell Pepper  



Scoville units and there measurements are a vast concern for our Barbecue Sauce

The clearest representation of the Scoville scale with with folks who have very little tolerance when it comes to spicy foods.  One of the things I often deal with when doing demos is how many folks ask me how hot or spicy our barbecue sauce may be.  I tell then what I tell everyone else....the hotness or spiciness depends on their understanding of what hot and spicy means.  If you think hot is the use of black pepper then our Medium and Hot barbecue sauces may not be for them.  But if you enjoy hot or spicy food more that twice a week then you will love having our Medium Hot BBQ Sauce and in fact you may be suited to our Really Hot Inferno which uses Habanero and Jalapeno peppers.  The selection of hot and spicy really is specific to the actual user.  

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Product 49/63

This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 21 September, 2017.