The hottest chilli is the “Infinity chili” which has been rated at 1,067,286 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), according to tests conducted by the Warwick University, UK, in March 2010.
The former record-holder, the Indian Bhut Jolokia, is measured at 1,041,427 SHU.
Scoville Heat Unit, or SHU, was named after a chemist, Wilbur Lincoln Scoville. In 1912, he had volunteers eat various chillis to test their heat. After seeing how much sugar-water the testers needed to put out the “fire,” Scoville created a scale for a chilli’s hotness.
All chillis get their fiery heat from a compound called capsaicin. The white fleshy insides of the chilli contain molecules of this chemical. Thus, when eaten, capsaicin molecules stick to nerve endings in your mouth and create a burning sensation.
Accessed November 28, 2010.
THAT’S HOT. Scholastic SuperScience [serial online]. April 2008;19(7):3. Available from: Primary Search, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 28, 2010.
How hot is it? Boys’ Life, August 2005 v95 i8 p13(1). Available from: Kids InfoBits. Accessed November 28, 2010.
Originally answered by Rosjihanah Mon
Associate Librarian, Children’s Services