Are you one of those people who just can’t seem to get your food spicy enough? Does a bottle of Tabasco Sauce last you about a week? Does No Joke Hot Sauce just leave you laughing? Did Ultimate Burn leave you cold? Do you use Dave’s Insanity Sauce to cool your tongue off! If so, then boy are there some new sauces on the market for you. If, that is, you brave enough to try them.
First off, a little background on what makes a hot sauce hot. The Scoville Scale was developed by Wilburn Scoville in 1912 to get an official measurement device determining the heat of various chiles. The higher the number, the hotter the pepper:
Bell Pepper: 0
Red Savina Habanero: 350,000-855,000.
What makes a pepper hot is the compound capsaicin, which is found in the “ribs” of peppers and which, when it makes contact with your taste buds causes pain, eye-watering, perspiration and nose-running. Pure capsaicin is so potent that even if you dilute just one drop into 100,000 drops of water and drink it, your tongue would blister.
Defensive pepper spray used on people is made not from pure capsaicin–which would probably be fatal–but an extract. Pepper sprays usually come in at somewhere between 25,000 to 200,000 on the Scoville Scale.
Tabasco Sauce can be found on the table of any self-respecting restaurant. I myself buy it by the gallon from Avery Island. But just how hot is the good old standby? Tabasco comes in at a respectable 2500 on the Scoville Scale. Too hot for many, perfect for most, too tame for a few. By contract, Dave’s Insanity Sauce, a sauce so hot that most stores that sell it will only allow tasters to dip the tip of a toothpick into it rates at 51,000 on the scale. Read those numbers carefully. 2500 and 51,000. That’s 51 thousand. Dave’s is not just twice as hot as Tabasco. It’s twenty times hotter.
Now Dave makes a lot of Insanity Sauce. And his hottest sauce for the general market is his Ultimate Insanity Sauce. Scaling in at 90,000, it’s not even twice as hot as his regular insanity sauce. But you wouldn’t know it to taste. But Dave also offers something that has become increasingly more common: the private, limited reserve hot sauce.
These things aren’t really hot sauce in the traditional sense. You wouldn’t–you couldn’t–pour the bottle even for a second onto a taco or pizza. These reserve sauces are really food additives. In other words, if you’re making a huge, and by huge I mean HUGE pot of chili, you could put one drop into it. But only if you’re cooking for people who really enjoy hot food. Dave’s Private Reserve Insanity Hot Sauce comes in at 500,000 on the Scoville Scale. Yes, that’s almost twice what is used in pepper spray. It’s hot, man!
And yet it’s still only half the rating of Magma Hot Sauce. The Magma bottle looks like a lava lamp with Oleoresin of Capsicum floating in globules inside clear liquid. At this point, you really can’t use the word hot anymore. This stuff is beyond heat. It’s really beyond any taste at all. And yet it’s not even Magma’s hottest sauce. Because there’s Magma 4 and when you buy this bottle you won’t see the lava lamp effect because it’s so thick that capsicum can’t float. What do you suppose the rating is on something like that? A million-five? Maybe it’s twice as hot so it’s 2,000,000? Try twice that. Magma 4 lives up to its name by coming in at 4,000,000 on the Scoville Scale.
And we’re still a long way from the hottest on the market. Recently introduced, The Source rates at an incredible 7,100,000. Recently the Food Network aired a show dealing with a hot sauce competition at which five people volunteered to take a toothpick-dipped taste of The Source. All of them said it was the hottest thing they’ve ever tasted and one almost couldn’t handle it, his face turning red, his mouth slightly blistering. Again, this product is designed as a food additive, not an actual dipping sauce.
Even so, there is still one more food additive technically available, though it’s no longer being made. Blair’s 6AM ranks in at 16 million on the Scoville Scale! Almost twice as hot as The Source. And then there’s Blair’s 16 Million Reserve. This isn’t even considered a food additive. It’s a bottle containing 1ml of pure capsaicin crystals and the buyer is warned that the actual crystals are not to be consumed and that the bottle should not even opened without using extreme caution. Only 999 bottles–actually vial might be a better description–will be sold and all buyers must agree to a disclaimer that there is an element of danger if misused before they can buy it.
Clearly, this are not your mother’s hot sauces.