The Scoville heat unit (SHU) is a measurement of the heat level or spiciness of chili peppers and other spicy foods. It is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, who developed the scale in 1912. The scale ranges from 0 to over 2 million SHU, with 0 indicating no heat and over 2 million indicating the highest level of heat possible.
The Scoville scale is determined by measuring the amount of capsaicinoids, the compounds that give chili peppers their heat, in a pepper or food. The heat level of a chili pepper is determined by diluting an extract of the pepper in sugar water until it is no longer detectable as spicy by a panel of taste testers. The more dilution required to neutralize the spiciness, the higher the pepper's Scoville rating.
The Scoville scale is used to measure the heat level of chili peppers and other spicy foods, and is important to chefs and food manufacturers who want to create dishes with a specific level of spiciness. It is also useful for consumers who want to know how hot a particular chili pepper or sauce is before they try it.