The Scoville Heat Scale
The Scoville scale is the measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers.
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.
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 contentIn Scoville's method, a measured amount of alcohol extract of the capsaicin oil of the dried pepper is produced, after which a solution of sugar and water is added incrementally until the "heat" is just barely detectable by a panel of (usually five) tasters; the degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale. Thus, a sweet pepper or a bell pepper, containing no capsaicin at all, has a Scoville rating of zero, meaning no heat detectable.
The hottest Chilli’s, such as habaneros and Nagas, have a rating of 200,000 or more, indicating their extract must be diluted over 200,000 times before the capsaicin presence is undetectable.
The greatest weakness of the Scoville Organoleptic Test is its imprecision, because it relies on human subjectivity. Tasters taste only one sample per session. Results vary widely, up to 50%, between laboratories