What is the Scoville scale all about?
The Scoville scale is a measurement of the spicy heat (or piquance) of a chili pepper. The number of Scoville heat units(SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes; pure capsaicin has a Scoville rating of 16,000,000 SHU.
The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. His method, devised in 1912, is known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test. The modern commonplace method for quantitative analysis uses high-performance liquid chromatography, making it possible to directly measure capsaicinoid content.
Here is a list of Chile peppers and their Scoville Heat Units. Due to variations in growing conditions, soil and weather, peppers tend to vary between the lower and upper levels listed, but can go beyond them.