Hottest Chili Pepper
A 1994 Red Savina Habanero from GNS Spices has tested an astonishing 577,000 Scoville Units and is believed to be the hottest pepper ever tested... Incredible! This is about TWICE as hot as your average orange habanero!
Curious as to relative heat levels, here's a listing of relative hotness of various peppers. Note that the hottest habanero is only *60 times* (not 100) hotter than the hottest jalapeno. Of course, with the recent development of the even hotter red habanero (which comes in around 325,000 Scoville units) this makes the hottest habanero *65* times hotter than the hottest jalapeno.
Scoville Units were invented in 1912 by a pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville. These units measure the amount of capsaicin (the chemical that provides the heat) in a pepper. Measuring by Scoville Units is very subjective. To achieve a rating, it takes three out of five people to taste the heat in a diluted solution of alcohol and sugar water. The ratio of dilution is the Scoville Unit. For example, the Chiltepin is usually detected by 60 percent of the testers when diluted at a ratio of 1 part to 50,000 parts solution (1:50,000 and up to 1:100,000).
What is a Scoville Unit?
In the Scoville Organoleptic Test procedure, Wilbur Scoville mixed each variety of chili as a pure ground-up paste with a sugar-water solution. Then a panel of five testers (probably volunteers from the state prison) sipped the mixture, in increasingly diluted concentrations, until Wilbur could no longer detect smoke drifting out from their nostrils. Each chili was rated based on how much it needed to be diluted before no heat could be detected. One part chili "heat" per 1,000,000 drops of water rates equals 1.5 Scoville Units. Simple, huh.
Or here's another way to describe it. To achieve a Scoville rating, three out of five people must taste the heat of a chili pepper in a diluted solution of alcohol and sugar water. The ratio of this dilution is the Scoville Unit. For example, the Chiltepin pepper is usually detected by 60 percent of the testers when it is diluted at a ratio of 1 part to 50,000 parts solution, or 1 to 50,000, giving it a rating of 50,000 to 60,000 Scoville Units. If this has you really confused, now you can understand why no one uses the old Scoville Unit test anymore.
The levels of hotness are measured in multiples of 100 units, from the completely harmless Bell pepper at zero Scoville units to the Habanero pepper at 300,000 Scoville units. The dreaded "Red Savina" Habanero, at 350,000 Scoville units, is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the hottest chili pepper in the world.