The substance in chilies that makes them spicy is called capsaicin. It is concentrated in the veins of the fruit (not the seeds) and stimulates the nerve endings in your mouth, fooling your brain into thinking you're in pain. The brain responds by releasing substances called endorphins, which are similar in structure to morphine. A mild euphoria results, and chilies can be mildly addictive because of this hot pepper "high".
Chile hotness is rated in Scoville units. The hottest pepper on record is the Habañero/Scotch bonnet which some claim are the same pepper and others claim are slightly different varieties. Habañeros are rated at 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units. By contrast, the lowly Serrano comes in at about 5,000 to 15,000 Scoville units.
Scoville Units are the measurement of capsaicin level (the oil that makes chilies hot). Although chilies can vary from pod to pod and plant to plant, listed below is an approximate scale for several varieties of chilies:
West Indies Creole Hot Sauce
contains Scotch Bonnet Peppers
measuring 250,000 Scoville Units
THE CHILE HEAT SCALE - Scoville Units
Red Savina Habañero 350-550,000 Scoville Heat Units Habañero (Scotch Bonnet) 200-300,000 Scoville Heat Units Thai 70-80,000 Scoville Heat Units Chiltecpin 70-80,000 Scoville Heat Units Santaka 50-60,000 Scoville Heat Units Tabasco 30-50,000 Scoville Heat Units Chilipiquin 30-40,000 Scoville Heat Units Cayenne 35-40,000 Scoville Heat Units Serrano 7-25,000 Scoville Heat Units Chile de Arbol 15-30,000 Scoville Heat Units Jalapeño 3.5-4,500 Scoville Heat Units Ancho Poblano 2.5-3,000 Scoville Heat Units Anaheim 1-1,500 Scoville Heat Units Bell Pepper 0 Scoville Heat Units
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