Paprika, Chilli and Cayenne Spices. The Difference in Spiciness.

Author: Shelley Bennetts   Date Posted:1 October 2018 

Do you wonder how to tell if a chilli product is hot, or not? We all seem to have different definitions of what ‘hot chilli’ or ‘mild chilli’ is. So, when you’re choosing a chilli powder or cayenne pepper powder, or even paprika, how do you know? A chilli product that tingles my tongue, may just blow your top off!


About the Scoville Heat Unit Scale

The amount of heat in a chilli pepper is measured by the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) scale. Capsaisin (cap-say-sin) is the active component of chilli peppers that gives them their spiciness. So the heat difference between Paprika, Chilli and Cayenne spices is related to the amount of capsaisin. While they all come from the capsicum family of plants, the spiciness of different 'chilli' products is hard to know. That is unless you know about the Scoville scale! At Pure Food Essentials we display the SHU on the back of our organic Paprika, Chilli and Cayenne spice packs. Look for the SHU on chilli products. It’ll help you to understand the heat in what you’re buying.


At the bottom of the SHU scale is the spiceless bell pepper, or capsicum as we know it in Australia. It has zero capsaisin. And, at the top is the Trinidad Scorpion (2,000,000 SHU) which would bring any normal person to tears, and wishing they’d refrigerated the toilet paper! Jalepeno, Birds Eye, Cayenne, Chilli peppers and the feared police capsicum spray are all somewhere in between.


What this means is that a chilli pepper powder made from the Trinidad Scorpian chilli would have to be diluted at a ratio of 1: 2,000,000 before you couldn’t detect any heat at all! While some will brag about their tolerance to chilli, those peppers at the top of the scale can be seriously damaging to body tissue. Personally, I’d rather enjoy my food than eat fire!


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