The chart below shows the relative heat value in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), named In honor of Dr. Wilbur L. Scoville, for many famous and internationally known brands of hot sauces. The substance that makes hot sauce so pungent is a group of chemicals called Capsaicinoids. The two most common component of this class are Capsaicin and Di-Hydrocapsaicin. Most comerical hot sauces rated over 10,000 SHU use Capsaicin extracts, to kick up the fire level.
If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen and into the lab - chemists can now use carbon nanotubes to judge the heat of chilli sauces. The technology might soon be available commercially as a cheap, disposable sensor for use in the food industry.
Richard Compton and his team at Oxford University, UK, have developed a sensitive technique to measure the levels of capsaicinoids, the substances that make chillies hot, in samples of chilli sauce. They report their findings in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal The Analyst.
Compton's new method unambiguously determines the precise amount of capsaicinoids, and is not only quicker and cheaper than taste-testers but more reliable for purposes of food standards; tests could be rapidly carried out on the production line.
They tested a range of chilli sauces, from the mild "Tabasco Green Pepper" sauce to "Mad Dog's Revenge", which sports an extensive health warning and liability disclaimer.
The well-established Scoville method - currently the industry standard - involves diluting a sample until five trained taste testers cannot detect any heat from the chilli. The number of dilutions is called the Scoville rating; the relatively mild Jalapeno ranges from around 2,500-6,000, whereas the hottest chilli in the world, the " Moruga Scorpion", has produced peppers testing over 2,000,000.
High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) can also be used, but this requires bulky, expensive equipment and detailed analysis of the capsaicinoids.
In Compton's method, the capsaicinoids are adsorbed onto multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) electrodes. The team measures the current change as the capsaicinoids are oxidised by an electrochemical reaction, and this reading can be translated into Scoville units.
The technique is called adsorptive stripping voltammetry (ASV), and is a relatively simple electrochemical method. Compton says, "ASV is a fantastic detection technique for capsaicinoids because it's so simple - it integrates over all of the heat creating constituents because all of the capsaicinoids have essentially the same electrochemical response."
Compton has applied for a patent on the technology, and Oxford University's technology transfer subsidiary ISIS Innovation is actively seeking backers to commercialise the technique.
Kachoosangi et al., Analyst, 2008, DOI: 10.1039/b803588a
Jon Edwards - Media Relations Officer, Royal Society of Chemistry
|Hot Sauce Brand||Heat (SHU)|
|Frank's RedHot® Original||450|
|Ott's Wing Sauce||725|
|Tabasco® Green Sauce||1,000|
|Tabasco® Garlic sauce||1,500|
|Frank's RedHot® XTRA Hot||2,000|
|Tabasco® brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce||2,500|
|El Yucateco Chipotle Hot Sauce||3,400|
|Tabasco® brand Pepper Sauce||3,500|
|Cholula Hot Sauce||3,600|
|El Yucateco Red Chile Habanero||5,800|
|Tabasco® brand Habanero Sauce||8,000|
|El Yucateco Green Chile Habanero||8,500|
|Orange Krush Habanero||9,400|
|Crazy Jerry's Brain Damage||11,000|
|El Yucateco XXXtra Hot Habanero||11,600|
|Big Daddy Jake's Texas Pit Smoked Hot Sauce||14,000|
|Mad Anthony's Hot Sauce||20,000|
|Lottie's Traditional Barbados Yellow||30,000|
|Endorphin Rush Beyond Hot Sauce||33,500|
|TorchBearer #37 Tarnation Sauce||38,000|
|Lottie's Original Barbados Red Hot||45,000|
|Blair's After Death Sauce||49,000|
|Dave's Insanity Sauce||51,000|
|Dave's Temporary Insanity Hot Sauce||57,000|
|TorchBearer #42 Slaughter Sauce||67,500|
|You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce||80,000|
|Widow Hot Sauce||90,000|
|Mad Dog Inferno||90,000|
|Dead Heat Limited Edition Hot Sauce||100,000|
|Da' Bomb Beyond Insanity||120,000|
|Crazy Jerry's Mustard Gas||125,000|
|Mad Dog Inferno Reserve||150,000|
|Predator Great White Shark||175,000|
|Dave's Insanity Sauce||175,000|
|You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce||225,000|
|Not Cool Chocolate Habanero||225,000|
|Da' Bomb Ground Zero||234,000|
|Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce||250,000|
|Blair's Possible Side Effects||283,000|
|Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin Sauce||300,000|
|Mad Dog 357 Hot Sauce||357,000|
|Blair's Mega Death Sauce||550,000|
|Melinda's Red Savina Pepper Sauce||575,000|
|Mad Dog 357 with Bullet Keychain||600,000|
|Dave's Insanity Private Reserve||700,000|
|Blair's 2 A.M||700,000|
|The Slap Heard Around the World||700,000|
|Blair's Jersey Death Sauce||750,000|
|Blair's Ultra Death||800,000|
|1 Million Scoville Pepper Extract||1,000,000|
|Maga Hot Sauce||1,000,000|
|Cool Million Pepper Extract||1,000,000|
|Cool Million Pepper Extract||1,000,000|
|Mad Dog's Revenge||1,000,000|
|Blair's Le Million Reserve||1,400,000|
|Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally||1,500,000|
|Da' Bomb The Final Answer||1,500,000|
|Blair's 3 A.M.||2,000,000|
|Magma 4 Hot Sauce||4,000,000|
|Blair's 4 A.M.||4,000,000|
|Blair's 5 A.M.||5,500,000|
|Blair's Halloween Reserve '05-'07||13,500,000|
|Blair's Holiday Reserve '06||14,000,000|
|Blair's Holiday Reserve '04||14,100,000|
|Blair's Holiday Reserve '05||14,725,000|
|Blair's 6 A.M.||16,000,000|
|Blair's 16 Million Reserve||16,000,000|