Flammable Liquids

Canada's Premiere Destination for Hot Sauce, Salsas and Fiery Foods

Scoville Scale

How 'hot' is hot?


Dr. Wilbur Scoville asked the same question. And instead of twiddling his thumbs, aimlessly trying the world's most potently fiery foods, he devised a way to measure heat using capsaicin dilution.

His method, called the 'Scoville Organoleptic Test,' and developed in 1912, measures how much capcaisin is present in a given food. In the Scoville method, an alcohol extract of capsaicin oil from a dried pepper is added slowly to a solution of sugar in water until the "heat" is just detectable by a small panel of tasters. The degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale, meaning that a sweet bell pepper (containing no capsaicin) has a rating of zero whereas habaneros, for example, 200,000 or more, indicating that their extract must be diluted over 200,000 times before the capsaicin presence is undetectable.

Of course, there’s a flaw in ol’ Wilbur’s plan: the Scoville Organoleptic Test is imprecise because it relies on subjective taste! Still, we think it’s a pretty good idea, and it’s standard in the industry.

The Wonderful World of Capsaicin

Finding the hot, hot heat of Capsaicin

Pure capsaicin is the active (and some would say, diabolical) element in hot peppers. It's what causes that familiar creeping burning sensation after hot sauce has been ingested. It is, in essence, what gives nearly everything at Flammable Liquids kick. And while the chemical compound may sound simple enough, it's actually got nearly a thousand uses in everything from equestrian racing to health sciences. Neat, right? Read on!

(The chemical compound known for causing delicious shock and awe!)

Not just for food anymore!

Most of us know that capsaicin is a huge part of hot sauce and fiery food, and while it's true that its main use is for consumption, it's a pretty versatile product. For instance, did you know that...

  • Capsaicin is the active ingredient in riot control and personal defense pepper spray chemical agents.
  • Capsaicin creams are used to treat psoriasis as an effective way to reduce itching and inflammation?
  • Capsaicin may help treat heartburn and other circulatory problems (such as heart disease from plaque) that block the arteries to the heart?
  • The University of Nottingham suggests that capsaicin is able to trigger apoptosis (cell death) in human lung cancer cells!
  • Capsaicin may help treat ear infections such as otitis.

Five Fiery Facts

Did you know?

Is your mouth on fire? Don't drink water! Capsaicin, which is an oil, does not mix with the water but is instead distributed to more parts of the mouth.

World's Hottest Pepper: Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Proclaimed New Champion Chile - follow the link for the whole story.

Ounce for ounce, chilies have more vitamin C than oranges.

The ancient Mayans rubbed chile peppers on their gums to cure toothaches.

Chile peppers contain more vitamin A than carrots and are low in calories.

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