Stephen R. Lasky, Ph.D. alt Stephen_Lasky at
Thu Nov 3 19:35:34 EST 1994

In article <199411031746.AA23794 at>,
saboteur at BORCIM.WUSTL.EDU (bdl) wrote:

> As I recall, the units are called Skovills, and range from about 1 for very
> mild fruit to millions of units for the very hottest. The units are defined
> empirically by limiting dilution as assayed for "heat" on one's tongue. In
> other words, you could dilute a habanero a million (or more? I forget its
> skovill rating),

I believe that this is an older measurment that was used before the
capsicum could be quantitated.  It seems to me that the Smithsonian Mag
wrote an article on chili's about 2 years ago that described a new, less
subjective unit based on the amount of capsicum produced in a specific
chile.  Could be called a C unit or Capsicum Unit or something like that.

That article also compared the rating (I don't remember whether it was in
C units or Skovills) of the jalepeno (about 5000 units) and a habenero
(>500,000 units I think).

 >times, and still feel the heat on your tongue. Now, how
> subjective this readout is, I don't know, but the results are supposedly 
> reproducible. My information does not come from any particular expertise
in this
> area other than love of good spicy food, but I do recall this from an
NPR broad-
> cast about a year ago. Also, I beleive habaneros have the highest skovill
> rating, but my own experience finds  scotch bonnets to be far superior
in kick.
> What do you think?

> brett at
> Brett Lindenbach

(I realize that this should be on the (or something) thread
so I apologize to those of you not interested.)  I haven't tried scotch
bonnets fresh or in cooking, but I do know (and have raised) habenero's
and they are beautifully hot.  So hot that your eyes seem to jump around
in their sockets for a few seconds after consuming one.  But,  I think
that the heat in a habenero goes away much faster than the heat in a
little thai chile.  Where can scotch bonnets be had?  (I've had a hot
sauce made with them and it is about on the same level as the habenero hot
sauces I have had.)  


*********************************************************************Stephen R. Lasky, Ph.D.
Roger Williams Medical Center/Brown University
Phone: 401-456-6572       Fax: 401-456-6569       e-mail: Stephen_Lasky at
"To me at least, 'Yuck' doesn't capture the full essence of death by
neurotoxin."   -Dick Dunn

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