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Measuring the hotness of chilli infused alcohol

ZP's FoodSense is the World's only hand sized Scoville Heat Meter capable of objectively measuring the amount of capsaicin in a chilli infused alcohol blend.

Below the video we describe a recent case study.


FoodSense was a Scoville Meter intended to measure the hotness of chillies and products consisting of chillies, specifically measuring the amount of capsaicin in a sample.

A FoodSense client had a different application where they prepared a vape with a pungency, and it was understood that they achieved this by dissolving capsaicin in 90% proof alcohol.

One of the interferences suspected when using the FoodSense meter to measure capsaicin was that alcohol/ethanol could distort the signal. The 'rule-of-thumb' stated that if the alcohol percentage that went onto the sensor was greater than 10% abv (alcohol by volume), it could interfere with the signal, although this was rarely the case due to the sample being diluted with the ChilliPot buffer before use.

If there was a 90% proof alcohol, it meant that the solution was 50% abv. It should be noted that the conversion from proof to abv seemed to be obtained by dividing by 1.8, although ZP had not exhaustively investigated this.

Now, understanding that 90% proof was 50% abv, it could be seen that taking 1 volume of 90% proof (50% abv) and adding it to 4 volumes of ChilliPot Buffer would dilute the alcohol to 18% proof (10% abv). Therefore, the alcohol concentration was on the edge of 'acceptable.' However, in this report, the samples were predominantly much more diluted than this, so the alcohol was not an issue.

The FoodSense owned by The Client was intended to be used as a process control tool to make a repeatable product. When considering the errors of making any solution by dissolving a solid into a solvent, the variables could include:

  1. Was the incoming solid material consistent, or was it cut or adulterated?

  2. Was the solvent consistent, for example, was it 90% proof or 85% proof?

  3. Did the operator weigh out the solid accurately, and were the weighing scales/balance calibrated?

  4. Was the glassware used to measure volumes the same every time, and was the volume accurately controlled?

  5. Was it the same operator every time?

  6. Was the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) detailed enough, and was the operator adequately trained to ensure repeatable use?

The list above was not exhaustive, but it demonstrated what could go wrong in preparing any solution, thus confirming the wisdom in using FoodSense as a process tool.

After analyzing The Client's data, the following recommended protocol was devised:

  1. Take 1 volume of the sample.

  2. Add 49 volumes of buffer.

  3. Add the now diluted sample to the FoodSense meter and run.

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