The Scoville scale rates the spiciness of peppers through the measurement of capsaicin levels. The unit of measurement is the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU), and hot chili peppers range from 0 SHUs (bell pepper) to over 2 million SHUs (Carolina Reaper). There are thousands of different pepper varieties around the world, with more being created through plant breeding all the time. Thus, pepper heat levels can range all over the scale.
See our ‘Silly Scoville Scale’ here, where we give honest examples of experiencing the different heat levels.
This article gives a general idea of some of the more common peppers, and where they fall on the Scoville scale.
Common Peppers On The Scoville Scale
● Bell Pepper
Heat: None at all
Scovilles: 2,500 – 8,000
● Cayenne Pepper
Heat: Pretty hot.
Scovilles: 100,000 – 300,000
Heat: Very hot (getting painful)
● Ghost Pepper
Heat: You might cry…
● Carolina Reaper
Heat: You will cry.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of peppers on the Scoville scale, but it should give you a good idea of what is mild, spicy, and extra hot. The most common spicy peppers that are available everywhere are the jalapeno and the Habanero peppers. There is a huge jump in heat between these two, so if you have tried both, you’ll know what the difference is between a 3,000 SHU pepper and a 200,000 SHU pepper.
With new peppers being cultivated by plant breeders around the world, we are sure to have a new hottest pepper soon. For now, the pepper heat scale ranges from no heat at all, to the fiery hot Carolina Reaper. Beyond that, you’re looking at bear deterrent spray, which can cause temporary blindness when sprayed. We think that’s a little too spicy.
Want A silly Version of the Scoville Scale?
Check out our “Silly Scovilles” post, where we give a frank example of how it feels to experience each of the different levels of the Scoville scale. See all of them here >
The Big Scoville Scale Chart
I hope this article helps you get a clear picture of Scovilles, and maybe helps you draw the line at what is too hot for you.
Tip: If your spice tolerance is low, the only way to increase it is to eat more spicy food. Over time, your tolerance will naturally increase.