Did you know that Wilbur Lincoln Scoville was born today in 1865? He was a pharmacist and invented the “Scoville Organoleptic Test”. Now it is known as just the “Scoville Scale” and is used to measure the spiciness or ‘heat’ of chili peppers. Initially, chili pepper heat levels were set using human taste testers, but now chemists can measure the actual concentration of ‘capsaicinoids’, which produce the burning sensation associated with chili peppers. Bell peppers have a Scoville Heat Unit of 0-100. The spiciest peppers (such as Carolina Reapers, Pepper X, or Dragon’s Breath) rate around 2-3 million Scoville Heat Units!
We hope that find something that adds a bit of spice to life! Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.
The units used in the Scoville Scale are called Scoville Heat Units; they are based on the concentration of a chemical called ‘capsaicinoids’, which produce the burning sensation associated with chili peppers.
With human taste testers, a set weight of dried pepper is dissolved in alcohol to extract the capsaicinoids. The resulting extract is diluted in sugar water, in decreasing concentrations. These increasingly dilute samples are given to the testers, until 60% of testers cannot detect or feel the ‘heat’ of the chili extract. The Scoville Heat Unit is based on this dilution.
Wilbur Scoville also wrote the Art of Compounding, which was used as a pharmacologiacal reference until the 1960’s; and Extracts and Perfumes.
Wilbur Scoville also received numerous awards including the Ebert Prize and the Remington Honor Medal.
Wilbur Scoville was honored in the Google Doodle in 2016, on what would have been his 151st birthday.
‘Organoleptic’ describes aspects of food, drinks, and other substances that individuals experience with senses such as taste, touch, or smell. A weakness of organoleptic tests is human subjectivity, that even with the same sample, testers may experience or rate the sample differently based on how they perceive their experience.
As a side note, law-enforcement grade pepper spray have Scoville Heat Units values from 500,000 to 5,000,000.