Anyone who digs spicy, hot food knows what a rush it can be to push your limits on what you can handle. In my younger days we’d dare each other to order our wing sauce higher up on the Scoville scale. And we felt so scientific doing so because we learned that the Scoville scale, named for pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, was the measurement of spicy heat reported in Scoville heat units (SHU), a function of capsaicin concentration (capsaicin being what sets your mouth on fire).
Unbeknownst to us – silly college kids who wanted a snack to accompany our beers – the kitchen staff was even more scientific and served our wings with blue cheese dressing to combat the heat. We had no idea why it worked but we eagerly dipped our crudités into the creamy fire-quenching sauce.
To help the future generations of dare-devil college kids, the American Chemical Society presents yet another Reaction video to explain the science behind why milk is the elixir of heat.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing’s digital editor. Her days of enjoying top-level wing sauce are over. Now she orders mild wings with her beer. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org