What is the Scoville Scale?

The Scoville Scale and its form of measurement, Scoville Heat Units (SHU), are the creation of a pharmacologist by the name of Wilbur Scoville. He created them in 1912 as a way to measure the heat or spiciness of peppers.

Pure capsaicin is a natural component in spicy peppers and things made from the peppers, such as hot sauce. A chemical reaction in capsaicin is what causes peppers to be spicy.

The Scoville Scale has evolved with time. Originally, dried peppers were dissolved in water, then given to a panel of five trained taste testers. Their job was to determine how much the pepper had to be diluted before they could no longer sense the heat. 

In the 1980s, a more scientifically accurate method of measuring capsaicin concentration was developed. As a result, peppers are now given a number to represent their Scoville Heat Units (SHU).