bdl saboteur at BORCIM.WUSTL.EDU
Thu Nov 3 12:46:35 EST 1994

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), 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
Lucille P. Markey Student in Human Pathobiology
Immunology Program
Dept. of Molecular Microbiology
Washington University School of Medicine, Box 8230
660 S. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO  63110-1093

Phone: (314) 362-2767
Fax: (314) 362-1232
E-mail: brett at

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