Learn About the Spectrum of Hot Sauces

Learn About the Spectrum of Hot Sauces

Posted by Rick M on May 15th 2014

There are many types of hot sauce from the mild to the lethal. Each type is made from a different kind of pepper, thus resulting in a different degree of spiciness. There are a ton of different peppers in the world and believe it or not, some hot sauces can only be ordered online because the pepper's degree of spiciness cannot be sold in stores!

There is a scale that measures how hot a pepper is.  It is known as the Scoville scale.  An ordinary pepper such as a pimento pepper or a pepperoncini pepper measures around 100 - 500 SHU, or Scoville Heat Units.  The hottest known peppers can measure up to 16,000,000 SHU.  Let's look at some common peppers that are often eaten.

Jalapeno Peppers - measuring from 2,500 to 5,000 SHU, the jalapeno pepper can seem wicked, but it's not the hottest pepper out there.  Often times, jalapenos are pickled, so along with being spicy, you get a tangy flavor as well.

Cayenne Peppers - this pepper is no joke, measuring from 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. Cayenne peppers are the key ingredient in buffalo wings and it's sauce.  They also seem to go with tangy foods such as vinegar.  Although the degree of spiciness may seem alarming, there are definitely more lethal peppers out there.

Habanero Peppers - These are probably the spiciest peppers an average person has tasted.  They measure from 100,000 to 350,000 SHU.  They are known to have a citrus like flavor and smell similar to flowers, but don't let that fool you! Habanero peppers are lethal.

Just in case you're curious, let's look at some more uncommon peppers (that are probably uncommon for a reason!)

Naga-Bih Jolokia Pepper - this pepper measures to 1,001,304 SHU.  It is also known as the Ghost Pepper.  This pepper is used in foods in the East such as India; however, scientists have considered making it into a non-lethal weapon similar to pepper spray.

Red Savina Habanero - as we move up a little from hell, we come across this type of habanero pepper.  It is hotter than the average habanero, but less spicy than the Jolokia Pepper.  This measures from 350,000 to 577,000 SHU.

These are the peppers that make up our hot-sauces, but just because a pepper might be 100,000 SHU doesn't mean that the sauce will be just as hot.  That’s also how watered down the sauce is.  Some ingredients cancel out spiciness too! Overall, you now know the scientific measurements of your food. Enjoy your hot sauce!