Q: Dear Dave,
I am currently doing a science fair project on the effects of hot sauce on the tongue. I am trying to make my own "homemade" test, similar to the methods used by Wilbur Scoville, to use on subjects. I was wondering if you ("The Pope of Peppers") could offer some suggestions on proper yet simple methods of testing the heat of hot sauces. Thanks!
A: Hello Andy:
The old Scoville Organoleptic Test required constant dilution of the pepper or product being tested, and even then it wasn’t very accurate. To replicate his testing would require an enormous amount of work and many volunteers. I suggest that you come up with a simple test involving a few volunteers. Have them rate the hot sauces on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hottest. Then take an average of all the ratings for each sauce and that would give a relative indication of the heat level of each sauce.