The Total Capsaicin Index – Examination of LOF competitions

19 Jan 2023 - Written By

László Diczkó

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Dear Friend! Honestly, I need to tell you something after my previous post. It is a true confession… In fact I am a Sith. Or at least I really feel like being a Sith when writing about my favorite topic of chili peppers…

Publishing observations is pretty much like a great thrashing in a pub. The one punches first the one who laughs at the end. I am sure you know what I mean.

Today I would like to dig into a bit easier, but also a very exciting question. I have a look at a few LOF competitions.

Of course one may adequately be asking “from what point of view?” “…and what is the purpose?”

Well, we need to “pile” the competitions and be able to see them with a pair of objective eyes instead of a fan’s enthusiastic way. Simple data collection is needed… some note taking… and you will see we will surely find some interesting consequences!

First of all let’s make a note of how much and what kind of paprika was taken. We could compare this data, but we would not get too far with it.

It would be a more interesting fact to be able to tell how much pure capsaicin was taken within a round by a person, no matter what kind of chili it is from.

Aside from the small error of SHU numbers showing not the true value of attenuation, we will see that SHU numbers are still commensurable to the hotness. It means that SHU is commensurable to the amount of capsaicin in them.

If we have an accurate SHU value, we will be able to define the amount of capsaicin in sauce, paprika or anything made from chili.

BUT! Searching deep in the net it is hard to find consequent values for the same chili.

In most cases the “highest value ever defined” is given as reference. Even if it never happened again. We know that the hotness of the chili depends on many things (see my previous post). Sometimes we can find some “from-to” range of value, which is way far more exact then only one value.

If we want to solve this puzzle, we need to define a so-called average value. If one of you Dear Readers is an economist, you may ask what method I will define the average hotness… Median or modus, or a simple and plain average calculation from the different values?

Well, in this case I rather take the median of the SHU values found on the net as a base value. I smoothly swapped this just slightly over the median. I did not want the chili farmers to get disappointed, but I can not accept the chili as 2M SHU which is accepted as 1-1.2 M SHU everywhere. Say for example in the case of Carolina Reaper, which is stated 2.2M SHU many times, while commonly known as only 1.6M SHU.

I was not that strict, saying it is 1.8M SHU. Does not really matter, but it is good to use the same value every time as the basis of the calculation.

I know it can spark an endless dispute, but the method is important, so I will use these values during the further calculations.

The other critical parameter is the mass of the paprika. If we really want to know how much capsaicin it contains indeed.

It is baby easy, I find some literature on the internet regarding the topic like in the library, and simply make my notes. Unfortunately it is not that easy. I could not find anything about it on the net!

We can send man to the Moon, we know the biochemistry in the cells, we have maps of Mars, we test ion-engines for spacecrafts, all these are open books, but we can tell a red hot chili paper’s average mass. I found something about Jalapeno and Habanero, but one data is not data even for amateur research.

I felt the challenge waiting for me, the amateur chili farmer. Let’s save the world from the armageddon of ignorance, and measure the mass of the Chocolate Habanero before it’s too late!

Ups, it is also not that baby easy! Many of us grow chili within different kinds of environments. It is obvious that our paprika are not the same, sometimes they differ, even within one farm or on one plant.

We need to be careful defining the mass of them. We need to measure the most possible number of “average-size-like” paprika and calculate the average mass.

I am sure that there will be smaller and bigger ones, sometimes far from the average.

The same way as in the case of the SHU numbers, the method is the most important. We need to measure every paprika, but it is not possible, it does not smell like real life.

I finally defined the average mass see below:

I feel like one of the characters in a novel by P. Howard when a pandemic outbreaks in the Grand Hotel and in the hall someone says: “no worries, everybody keep your calm!”… and instantly mass panic is all around the place.

I think after finishing this post I will need to wear a Malay ritual dance mask on public transportation to stay hidden… 🙂

Okay, after keeping our calm, let’s see the method:

We already know that:

  • Pure capsaicin is 16.000.000 SHU
  • 2 kg is 1.000.000 mg
  • We know the SHU value of the chili we want to measure.
  • We also know the mass of the chili (average weight in kg)
  • X capsaicin is the specific capsaicin index of the known type in mg/kg
  • We need to find the volume of capsaicin in the typical chili, chili capsaicin content (mg)

Starting from the formula: 

This way:

Now we know how much capsaicin can be found in the tested chili by kg. But we need to know the value of only one piece of chili:

We are almost there. Almost.

And now in my memories my previous post is coming up (Uncle Scoville, Uncle Scoville! You meant well!) with the issue we digested in detail.

Using this formula we will get ten times of the real volume of capsaicin.

Why ten times? Because the well known SHU numbers are ten times higher than reality! (I am sorry!)

Hence the X capsaicin value (mg/kg) result is ten times higher than the real value. I did not want to throw the mess into the line of thinking. And at the same time it is a massive taboo as I sense at the moment. So let it go…

Let’s accept that we get the real value (really real) of the amount of capsaicin if we multiply it with 0.1!
This way it will be laser sharp! I do apologize again, saying “welcome to reality my friend!”

Test and prove it!

Say Carolina Reaper is the tested one. Average SHU is 1.800.000, av. mass is 9g

Wow! Dear Reader, it is pretty much like a jungle with not that many trees… 😀

…okay, but what is this good for?

With this method, we can calculate how much capsaicin is taken by the winner during a League of Fire competition. And after checking this, we can see some other competitions as well… and so on…

It is obvious that different kinds of competitions mean different amounts of chili is taken by the winner. A Title Belt Match competition the challenge is bigger, therefore it starts on a harder level.

If it is not a Title Belt Match competition, the winner will gain points that will appear on the list of the page of League of Fire.

No matter whether you take 1g of capsaicin during a competition, and 2g during another race, you will have 10 points. Points have nothing to do with the capsaicin intake. You know capsaicin is a pretty painful thing, it is not an unimportant thing.

Long ago during Rally Europa Competitions there were multipliers for different levels. There were 1x, 1.5x, 2x and even 3x multipliers too. And it was suddenly forgotten… maybe the organizers got across each other because of the multipliers… 🙂

On the other hand the racer has nothing to do with how much chili he needs to eat during the competition. He just jumps on into it and eats everything. Hmmm it is not an easy thing.

Let’s have a look at few competitions and how much capsaicin is taken by the winner of the challenge.  This is what I call the Total Capsaicin Index! (in the future TCI).

Important! I do not want to qualify the competitions! All of them are so perfect as they are! I just simply analyze them from different points of view. The test is not representative! I fully respect all the racers and organizers!

I show the estimated value! It is an estimate, I may be wrong, but not too much!

I did dig deep into the topic of Bhut Jolokia, Ghost Chili, Naga Jolokia, Raja and other different Naga versions recently. Hence I can surely say there is no significant difference among them, just the name is different, the paprika is almost the same.

I am not at home in everything, but I loved digging into this topic. This is what my book the Mysterious Ghost Chili was born. At the moment only in the complicated Hungarian language, but I hope it will be translated to English soon.

There are competitions where dry chili is evaluated as hotter than fresh. Well, it has exactly the same amount of capsaicin in them, so I make no difference.

I observed the following competitions in order of time.:

  1. I. European Title Belt Match, Algemesi 2021 (ESP)
  2. American Title Belt Match Chili Eating Contest, San Diego 2022 (USA)
  3. World Title Belt Match, Nottingham 2022 (UK)
  4. II. European Title Belt Match, Kaba 2022 (HUN)
  5. International Chilli Eating Contest, Rieti 2022 (ITA)
  6. NZ Chilli Eating Champs Auckland 2022 (NZ)
1. I. European Title Chili Eating Belt Match, Algemesi 2021 (ESP)
Chili/Sauce Quantity Average SHU Weight Capsaicin Content
Habanéró Red 1 pcs 400.000 16.5 gramm 41,2 mg
Habanéró Chocolate 1 pcs 400.000 13.5 gramm 30 mg
Naga Jolokia 1 pcs 945.500 12,5 gramm 73,86 mg
TS Moruga 1 pcs 1.600.000 10 gramm 100 mg
Carolina Reaper Chocolate 1 pcs 1.800.000 6 gramm 67,5 mg
Carolina Reaper Red 3 pcs 1.800.000 27 gramm 303,75 mg
LoF Chug Challenge sauce 50 ml 400.000 50 gramm 125 mg
7POD Primo 4 pcs 1.500.000 36 gramm 337,5 mg
In all: 1078,81 mg
Death Race
Jalapeno 1 pcs 5.250 35 gramm 1,14 mg
Habanero Red 1 pcs 400.000 16,5 gramm 41,2 mg
Habanero Chocolate 1 pcs 400.000 13.5 gramm 30 mg
Naga Jolokia 1 pcs 945.500 12,5 gramm 73,86 mg
TS Muruga 1 pcs 1.600.000 10 gramm 100 mg
Carolina Reaper Chocolate 1 pcs 1.800.000 6 gramm 67,5 mg
Carolina Reaper Red 1 pcs 1.800.000 9 gramm 101,25 mg
7POD Primo 1 pcs 1.500.000 9 gramm 84,37 mg
Death Race in all: 499,32 mg
All in all: 1 578,13 mg
2. American Title Belt Match Chili Eating Contest, San Diego 2022 (USA)
Chili/Sauce Qantity Average SHU Weight Capsaicin Content
Lemon Snacker 2 pcs 30.000 26 gramm 4,87 mg
Red Snacker 2 pcs 40.000 26 gramm 6,5 mg
Ghost of Saffron sauce 50 ml 100.000 50 gramm 31,2 mg
Datil pepper 2 pcs 200.000 22 gramm 27,5 mg
Brain Strain Peach 1 pcs 1,200,000 9,5 gramm 71,25 mg
7 POD Primo 1 pcs 1.500.000 9 gramm 84,34 mg
Cullex #12 sauce 50 ml 700.000 50 gramm 218,75 mg
Naga Jolokia 2 pcs 945.500 25 gramm 147,7 mg
Brain Strain Chocolate 3 pcs 1.175.000 28,5 gramm 209,3 mg
Brain Strain Red 2 pcs 1.175.000 18 gramm 132,2 mg
Brain Strain Lemon 1 pcs 1.175.000 12 gramm 88,12 mg
Dragon’s Breath (Moruga) 3 pcs 1.800.000 18 gramm 202,5 mg
In all: 1 224,23 mg

There were two sauces I had to look after. It was not easy, the Cullex #12 sauce has only an estimated value.

3. World Title Belt Match, Nottingham 2022 (UK)
Chili/Sauce Quantity Average SHU Weight Capsaicin Content
Butch-T Scorpion 4 pcs 1.250.000 40 gramm 312,5 mg
Carolina Reaper Peach 3 pcs 1.800.000 25,5 gramm 286,87 mg
Peach Ghost Scorpion 3 pcs 1.300.000 30 gramm 243,75 mg
Butch-T x Reaper Scorpion 3 pcs 1,450.000 30 gramm 271,87 mg
Primotalii 3 pcs 1,600,000 27 gramm 270 mg
Scotch Bonnet Orange 3 pcs 400.000 37 gramm 92,5 mg
Carolina Reaper 4 pcs 1.800.000 36 gramm 405 mg
Brain Strain Chocolate+Red+Yellow 3 pcs 1.175.000 30,5 gramm 223,98 mg
Dragon’s Breath 3 pcs 2.400.000 18 gramm 270 mg
Dragon’s Breath 4 pcs 2.400.000 24 gramm 360 mg
In all: 2 736,47 mg
Death Race
Cayenne 3 pcs 40.000 39 gramm 9,75 mg
Dragon’s Breath 2 pcs 2.400.000 12 gramm 180 mg
Scotch Bonnet 1 pcs 400.000 12,4 gramm 31 mg
Death Race in all: 220,75 mg
All in all: 2 957,22 mg

It was a brutal competition!

4. II. European Title Belt Match, Kaba 2022 (HUN)
Chili/Sauce Quantity Average SHU Weight Capsaicin Content
Habanero 1 pcs 400.000 25 gramm 62,5 mg
Scotch Bonnet + Habanero Yellow 2 pcs 400.000 27,9 gramm 69,75 mg
Spirit of Attila sauce 70 ml 550.000 70 gramm 240,62 mg
Bhut Jolokia Red 2 pcs 945.500 25 gramm 147,73 mg
Bhut Jolokia Yellow 2 pcs+Bhut Jolokia White 1 pcs 3 pcs 945.500 32 gramm 189,1 mg
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Yellow 2 pcs 1.600.000 30 gramm 300 mg
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Red 3 pcs 1.600.000 30 gramm 300 mg
Dragon’s Breath 2 pcs 2.400.000 12 gramm 180 mg
Carolina Reaper 3 pcs 1.800.000 27 gramm 303,75 mg
Pepper XXX JD 3 pcs 2.700.000 18,6 gramm 313,87 mg
Dragon’s Breath 1 pcs+Carolina Reaper 1 pcs+Pepper XXX JD 1 pcs 3 pcs 2.300.000 21,2 gramm 304,75 mg
In all: 2 412,07 mg
Death Race
Jalapeno 1 pcs 5.250 35 gramm 1,14 mg
Habanero 1 pcs 400.000 25 gramm 62,5 mg
Bhut Jolokia Red 1 pcs 945.500 12,5 gramm 73,86 mg
Bhut Jolokia Yellow 1 pcs 945.500 12 gramm 70,9 mg
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Yellow 1 pcs 1.600.000 15 gramm 150 mg
Carolina Reaper 1 pcs 1.800.000 9 gramm 101,25 mg
Death Race in all: 459,65 mg
All in all: 2 871,72 mg

I have to be prejudiced by default, because it was organized by us. I had to change the average mass here. As I wrote it could be accurate if all the paprikas were measured, but real life is always a bit different. That is why I worked with average masses. In this case Habanero was changed from 16.5g to 25. In fact they were somewhere between 30-40g. Thanks for understanding!

Spirit of Attila sauce has the SHU of 550.000, this is officially tested. In real life it is 100% Bhut Jolokia and spice. Yes, it is visible how much cooking takes away from hotness. It is the huge loss of evaporation.

5. International Chilli Eating Contest, Rieti 2022 (ITA)
Chili/Sauce Quantity Average SHU Weight Capsaicin Content
Scotch Bonnet 1 pcs 400.000 12,4 gramm 31 mg
Habanero Orange 1 pcs 400.000 11,5 gramm 28,75 mg
Habanero Chocolate 1 pcs 400.000 12 gramm 30 mg
Red Savina 1 pcs 400.000 12 gramm 30 mg
Fatalii + Habanero Capuccino+ Yellow Habanero 3 pcs 400.000 40 gramm 100 mg
Raja Mirch 1 pcs 945.500 12 gramm 70,87 mg
Naga Morich 1 pcs 945.000 12 gramm 70,87 mg
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Yellow 1 pcs 1.600.000 15 gramm 150 mg
Secret Potion Chocolate 1 pcs 1.600.000 10 gramm 100 mg
Drax in Fire 1 pcs 1.900.000 11 gramm 130,6 mg
Dragon’s Breath 1 pcs 2.400.000 6 gramm 90 mg
In all: 832,09 mg
Death Race
Habanero Orange 1 pcs 400.000 11,5 gramm 28,75 mg
Habanero Chocolate 1 pcs 400.000 12 gramm 30 mg
Dragon’s Breath 1 pcs 2.400.000 6 gramm 90 mg
Naga Morich 1 pcs 945.500 12 gramm 70,87 mg
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Yellow 1 pcs 1.600.000 15 gramm 150 mg
Secret Potion Chocolate 1 pcs 1.600.000 10 gramm 100 mg
Drax in Fire 1 pcs 1.900.000 11 gramm 130,6 mg
Death Race in all: 600,22 mg
All in all: 1.432,31 mg

Special paprika, special competition. I need to say that the seven paprikas of the Death Race were all together 69 g, but we stayed with the original method. The average masses pulled the TCI of the race a bit.

6. NZ Chilli Eating Champs Auckland 2022 (NZ)
Chili/Sauce Quantity Average SHU Weight Capsaicin Content
Jalapeno 1 pcs 5.250 35 gramm 1,14 mg
Habanero Peach 2 pcs 400.000 24 gramm 60 mg
Scotch Bonnet 3 pcs 400.000 37,2 gramm 93 mg
* Pizza, Dragon’s Fury sauce 20 ml+7POD 1/4+Naga Chocolate 1/4 1 pcs 900.000 26 gramm 146,25 mg
Bhut Jolokia 2 pcs 945.000 25 gramm 147,65 mg
Bhut Jolokia Chocolate 2 pcs 945.000 18 gramm 106,31 mg
Bhut Jolokia Yellow +TS Moruga Yellow 2 pcs 1.350.000 24 gramm 202,5 mg
TS Moruga Yellow 2 pcs 1.600.000 30 gramm 300 mg
** Shot of NZ Chilli Champs 30 ml + Dried Bhut Jolokia 1 pcs 1.400.000 42,5 gramm 371,87 mg
***World’s Hottest Corn Chips +NZ Chilli Champs Sauce 30 ml+Dried Bhut Jolokia 1 pcs 1 pcs 1.200.000 42,5 gramm 318,75 mg
Carolina Reaper 2 pcs 1.800.000 18 gramm 202,5 mg
7POD Primo 2 pcs 1.500.000 18 gramm 168,75 mg
League Of Fire Scoville Slammer sauce 1 pcs 2.000.000 50 gramm 625 mg
In all: 2 743,72 mg

It was a crazy competition! I saw the yester one. It had were 23 rounds! This year was not that much, but they were totally crazy I am sure!
It was a hard job to calculate. I calculated the “non chillies” based on the following:

*Pizza slice. Dragon’s Fury sauce hotness was defined as 700.000 SHU, as I had the labtest of the 100% Moruga+Carolina sauce, which is 880.000 SHU.
** One Aussie shot 1,01 oz = 30 ml. A NZ Chilli Eating Champs Limited Edition 2022 chili sauce was defined as 1.600.000 SHU
*** I accepted the value of 1.200.000 SHU provided by the organizer. It was really hard to calculate.

If you did not give up reading, you can find all the results arranged by time.

Competition Chili cs. TCI mg TCI gramm Chili Weight
Algemesi 2021 (ESP) 20+3=23 1.578,13 mg 1,6 g 283 g
San Diego 2022 (USA) 19+3=22 1.224,23 mg 1,2 g 294 g
Nottingham 2022 (UK) 39 2.957,22 mg 3,0 g 361,4 g
Kaba 2022 (HUN) 30+4=34 2.871,72 mg 2,9 g 427,2 g
Rieti 2022 (ITA) 20 1.432,31 mg 1,4 g 231,4 g
Auckland 2022  (NZ) 24,5+12,5=37 2.743,72 mg 2,7 g 390,2 g

At the pcs of paprikas you can see that there are two numbers are added in many places. The reason is because they had to take sauces as well as chilis. I had to pair the two very different materials.
I had to reach back for my zoo experiences. No worries, there is no similarities between the two thing, there is no such a frequent vomit in the zoo 😀

In a modern zoo, feeding is defined as so called “deerunit”.

It means a 200kg male deer has 1 unit, a goat has 0-2, an elephant has 30. Related to their mass it changes. It is easy. We calculate the need for food based on this method. Oversimplified, but works.

In our case there are much fewer goats and elephants taking part in the game, but the issue is similar.

I made a “Habanero unit”. One Habanero unit is 16.5g and 400.000 SHU. For instance 70ml of Spirit of Attila sauce (550.000 SHU) is 4 Habanero units. Habanero average is 16.5g and 400.000 SHU. Say it is almost 5, but it does not matter here. Unfortunately we can not be needle sharp all the time.

What can we read from the collected data?

  1. It is clearly visible that the higher amount of chili we take the higher amount of capsaicin we get hurt by. For this statement I would not have to write that much…
  2. Having a look at the videos of the competitions we will see that after the hotter sauce shots there are more and more people quitting the game. 30ml (30g) of sauce with 5-600.000 SHU contains as much capsaicin as Carolina Reaper with 1.800.000  SHU, but with the sauce we have a higher amount of material and the resistance of our body often wins.
  3. A Carolina Reaper (1,8M SHU) contains 101.25 mg capsaicin, while a Yellow Moruga contains significantly more (1,6M SHU) 150 mg. The average mass of the Yellow Moruga is much higher (15 g), than the Carolina Reaper’s (9 g), so with the “lighter” chili we take more capsaicin.
    It can be the case when more super hot chili is eaten during a competition, but their average mass is below 10g and this way the all capsaicin intake will be less than in case of Moruga like paprika with bigger mass.

It can be a standard for the chili farmers who want to grow the ideal “race paprika”. The best paprika is not always the hottest. Sometimes a superhot chili with bigger mass can beat bigger if it can be eaten at more than two bites. Of course improvement is not easy to plan in case of a super hot chili. We never know what sleeping genpairs will activate or disappear or even downgrade to some ancient version. It is pretty much like a lottery. And we,  chili growers, we noble lords, we know that in poker the question is not if we win, or not. The question is how much we win. 🙂

If you are here, you must be long-suffering! Thanks!

I mentioned in this post the Moruga, or Trinidad Scorpion Moruga. Well, special the shape of this paprika it is, there is not much literature about it. Indeed this shape has no name. As I know it has not been specified yet. The story of it is not over researched. I wanted to dig into it a bit deeper in my next post. I would appreciate it if you come with me next time!