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Finding Your Hot Sauce Match

3 min read

Different people react differently to heat. The range is wide, and no two people will ever have exactly the same tolerance. From those who find Cumberland sausages hot to seasoned competitive eaters who devour raw chillies like they're small apples, the range is enormous.

your quest to find the best hot sauce for your taste

Index For Heat

heat index for chili peppers

We all love hot sauce, but how do we quantify our love? We don’t nor can we. What we can do is gauge the heat. Peppers exist in great variety, and so do the sauces we make from them. Some pepper sauces are mild to nonexistent in their heat, while others will make you pray to a higher being!

This makes it difficult to respond to the question: How hot is your sauce? You need to understand that there are several types of heat. We also discussed a more scientific approach to this in our Know Your Heat article.

We prefer to consider three factors when dividing our sauces into different heat categories. Be careful to read the descriptions of these components that are included within every unique bottle of hot sauce.

  1. Onset. This refers to how soon the heat actually comes on. Different peppers develop their heat at varying rates. For instance, while Habanero peppers tend to be quite hot right away, Carolina Reapers develop their heat gradually over time.
  2. Peak. When most people think of heat, they picture the temperature at its height, despite how long it takes to get there. And this is a good way to simplify things. Scorpions, Nagas, Carolina reapers, and Pepper X fall under the same category of what we might call Superhots. They vary in terms of how long it takes for the maximum heat to kick in, but they are around the same ballpark on the Scoville scale. In contrast, a Holland or Dutch red chile pepper is more comparable to a bell pepper. 
  3. Linger. The real kicker is this as the duration of the pain may be even more significant when considering how much a sauce will hurt. This is why hot sauce makers love to combine a variety of peppers in one sauce. For example, habaneros are used as a primary ingredient, which often come on rapidly, peak pretty high, and disappear just as quickly. Then a dose of Jolokia or Ghost Peppers is thrown into the mix. Those wicked guys take a while to get going, but once they do, they burn hot and stay fiery for a while. This results in a layered heat feeling. Reapers are especially strong hots that linger for a very long period while your body tries to break down the caps.

Drawing Comparisons

Hot sauce enthusiasts typically sample several different sauces, so it’s good to follow this approach in your quest to find the right hot sauce. It’s a great way to find your favorite brands that fit your heat tolerance. 

Review The Ingredients

check the label of your hot sauce bottles

Remember that the heat level of the sauce might differ significantly from the peppers it was created from. It pays to check the label. This is to verify if anything else has been added to the sauce that might have influenced its heat level. The amount of vinegar in the sauce will most likely be high if it is thin, runny, or seems watery since vinegar is derived from alcohol by over-fermenting wine. This will not only dilute the pepper but also instantly relieve the heat.

If the sauce is rather thick like a paste, it most likely contains carrots or vegetable puree. If there are no vegetables present or if there are very few listed on the bottle's list of ingredients, beware as you’re probably dealing with a freakishly hot sauce especially if the peppers used are one of the Capsicum Chinense kinds of Bonnet Peppers.


the best hot sauce for you is right around the corner

Whatever your preference for heat, flavor, or consistency, I’m sure you will find sauces perfect for you from our wide variety! The world is a treasure trove of wonderful sauces and peppers waiting to delight your palate and excite your senses.

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