How hot is “HOT”?

Thanks to a pharmacologist named Wilbur Scoville, who created the Scoville Heat Scale, we can now rate the fiery factors of various food ingredients, allotting a ''heat rating'' for each.

Scoville's method uses a solution of dried Chile peppers dissolved in alcohol and sugar water to determine the degree of heat.  Food scientists inject pepper extracts into a high-tech device that separates and measures the amount of capsaicin. Then they use a formula that applies the results to Scoville's scale.

Starting with blistering hot and ending with the mildest, here is the latest Scoville rating list, based on the raw ingredient, not mixed into other foods:

• Habanero, Scotch bonnet -- 100,000 to 300,000
• Thai pepper -- 50,000 to 100,000
• Pequin pepper, cayenne, Tabasco -- 30,000 to 50,000
• De Arbol -- 15,000 to 30,000
• Bahama Mama and Texas Fireball peppers -- 20,000-plus
• Yellow wax hot, serrano pepper -- 5,000 to 15,000
• Santaka (Japanese) peppers -- 15,000
• Celestials and other small Chiles -- 12,000
• Jalapeno, mirasol and serrano peppers, Chile oil -- 10,000
• Chipotle Chiles, Chile powder -- 8,000
• Sandia Chiles, some Mexican hot sauces -- 5,000
• Pasilla, Rio Grande, Fresno, black and ancho Chiles -- 1,000 to 1,500
• NuMex Big Jims, yellow (wax) Chiles, curry powder -- 500 to 1,000
• Anaheim Chiles, NuMex R-Naky Chiles, also black pepper, Chinese mustard -- 500
• Ginger, horseradish, other mustards, cherry and tomato peppers, paprika -- 100 to 200
• Mild bell peppers, pimento, sweet banana pepper -- 0