Yes, I will admit it, I am a major Chili Head!! I love it hot! I have grown some of the hottest peppers in the world, Bhut Jolokia's.....also known as The Ghost Pepper, and loved them!
The Ghost Pepper in all its Glory:
There is an interesting article that I got alerted to from a friend of mine on BlossomSwap.net. It involves the Indian (India) Military using Bhut Jolokia Peppers as weapons. They are wanting to use this pepper in their hand grenades. It could be used to flush insurgents out of caves and hiding places and to temporarily choke and incapacitate them. It has no environmental side effects. It may be the perfect weapon. Though, this would still not be as strong as the US Grade pepper Spray.
The Bhut Jolokia comes in at a record 1,000,000 Scoville units. That's One Million in case you were having trouble reading zero's. What's a Scoville Unit?
Devised by Wilbur Scoville in 1912, a Scoville unit is the measure of capsaicin in a particular type of pepper. Capsaicin is what makes a pepper hot. To give you an idea of how hot a million Scoville Units are, let me break it down for you.
A Bell pepper is between 0-100 Scoville Units....Basically not hot.
A Jalapeno Pepper is between 3,500-8000 Scoville Units....I love these on my Hot Dogs.
A Cayenne or Tabasco is between 30,000-50,000 Scoville Units....Great on Pizza.
A Habanero or Scotch Bonnet is between 200,000-350,000 Scoville Units...Dehydrated flakes are also good on Pizza.
Then you have the Bhut Jolokia at 1,000,000 Scoville Units....A piece the size of a pea can heat up an entire pot of Jambalaya. I admit it, these go on my Pizza too. I have even sprinkled some flakes on my scrambled eggs.
Here is the Full Chart:
The reason there is such a wide space of units in each pepper variety is because the heat can differ from pod to pod and plant to plant. This is just a basic scale.
How Scoville first started doing the tests on the heat of peppers is actually kind of funny. He used human guinea pigs and their tongues. One problem with Scoville’s test is that no two tongues ever agreed, so the panelists’ estimates had to be averaged. Another problem was that the number of tests a panelist could do in a day was limited. Because the tongue would temporarily get used to a given level of pungency, it had to be given rest to cool down before resuming the task. In an eight hour period, no more than 6 samples could be run through the panel. Today it is tested with a machine known as a High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph, it is supposedly as sensitive as the human tongue.
So, the next time somebody tells you that their food is hot. Ask them how many Scoville Units they think it is. Then give them a Bhut Jolokia. A serious note however, the Jolokia peppers are nothing to play with, these things are EXTREMELY HOT and can cause blistering on persons that are very sensitive, so please be careful. I luckily am not and am in the mood for some hot spicy food! I think it's time to go make some scrambled eggs with pepper flakes, Ghost Pepper anyone?