How Hot Is My Hot Sauce?

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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.

Chemists Measure Hot Sauce With Nanotubes

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.

References:
Kachoosangi et al., Analyst, 2008, DOI: 10.1039/b803588a
Jon Edwards - Media Relations Officer
Royal Society of Chemistry

HOT SAUCE
Rated By Scoville Heat Units

Hot Sauce Brand Heat (SHU)
Frank's RedHot® Original 450
Tabasco® 700
Ott's Wing Sauce 725
Texas Pete® 750
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
Scorned Woman 6,000
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
Vicious Viper 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
Habanera 750 750,000
Unbearable 750,000
Blair's Ultra Death 800,000
Satan's Blood 800,000
1 Million Scoville Pepper Extract 1,000,000
Maga Hot Sauce 1,000,000
Cool Million Pepper Extract 1,000,000
Frostbite 1,000,000
Gold Cap 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
Pyro Diablo 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
The Source 7,100,000
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

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Still need more HOT Chile Pepper information?

Check out the Pepper History page.
Who is Wilbur Scoville?
What is The World's Hottest Chile?
Hot Chile Pepper Medical Uses
Check out the Electrochemistry page.

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