What the Blazes Is a Scoville?

How hot is too hot?

There’s actually a measurement for that. It’s called a Scoville.

If you thought Fahrenheit (or maybe even Celsius) was how you measure heat, you’ve been doing it all wrong. Sure, there are people that prefer it when the weather is hotter than hell, when the beaches and pools beckon.

But, the best kind of heat is the kind you put in your mouth, slathered over chicken wings, eggs or, well, just about anything really. And, the way you measure that heat is a splendid unit called the Scoville.

A Single Scoville Is Milder Than You Thought

So a Scoville is hot, right?

Not exactly. A single Scoville doesn’t offer a whole lot of heat. In fact one Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) is about as hot as a green bell pepper. That’s right, not hot at all.

It’s when you start piling plenty of Scovilles together that they start to make a difference. But you need a lot of SHUs before you start feeling it. If you’re a newbie to the whole world of hot sauce addiction, then you might find the 5000 Scovilles found in your average bottle of Tabasco hot.

People can surmount this heat pretty quickly though, because it’s not really that hot. The absolute highest point on the Scoville Scale (of course, there’s a scale) is 16 million Scovilles. That’s truly hotter than hell.

A Very Short History of Scoville Testing

By now, you’re probably wondering why we call them Scovilles. As with so many things scientific, the heat unit gets its name from the scientist that uncovered it. That’d be Wilbur Scoville, an American who developed the heat test for capsaicinoids (that’s the actual name for the organic compound found in chilies that makes your tongue feel like it's on fire).

Back in 1912 when Wilbur Scoville began testing for Scovilles, he essentially lined up volunteers who reported the perceived heat level when eating various chili peppers.

As you can imagine, this method for testing Scoville Heat Units is problematic. You know that if you’ve ever watched a group of people sharing a curry. There are those that can handle the heat, sailing through spoonfuls with delight. Next to them, you’re likely to find a few folks sweating profusely, struggling with each bite.

Besides the complete subjectivity of such a Scoville test, there’s another problem afoot; consummate chili eaters develop increasing tolerance for the heat.

These days, there’s an actual scientific test to determine the Scoville heat found in a pepper or hot sauce. And, unless you’re a chemist, it’s not nearly as exciting as imagining lines of volunteers sweating and hiccuping though a bowl full of chilies. But it is how we know that the maximum heat level is 16 million Scovilles; that’s the number of SHUs in pure capsaicin.

How Many Scovilles Is Super Scorching?

So, what the blazes is hot? How many Scovilles do you need to sweat? That’s still subjective. But, most people will probably feel it around 600,000 or 800,000 Scovilles. Nearly everyone that doesn’t drink hot sauce for breakfast finds a million Scovilles a real challenge.

And now that you know what a Scoville is, isn’t it time for you to stock up? We’ve packed hundreds of thousands of Scovilles into each bottle of Mad Dog Hot Sauce. Get yours today to truly live life to it's hottest.


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