High's and Low's
Welcome to Issue #6
Hi All -
Oscar Wilde famously said “conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative,” but then again he wasn’t in lockdown and simultaneously experiencing climate change!
According to a 2018 study a Brit will spend on average the equivalent of four and half months of their life talking about the weather. Lately, I feel like it’s the only thing I’m talking about. With the current arctic blast making its way around the world, how could you not? The Thames froze for the first time in 50 years, it was snowing at the Parthenon, and the scenes from Texas are straight out of Hollywood’s Snowmageddon!
Brrr, I’m getting cold just thinking about it. Let’s momentarily turn up the 🔥 with some HOT STUFF.
What do peppers and duvets have in common? They both have their own scale to measure heat. Whilst entirely different from Celsius, Fahrenheit, and Kelvins, they’re still equally important. Make a wrong assessment and you could be burning up - literally!
That dish on the menu with 🌶️🌶️🌶️ peppers next to it, are we talking a little heat or dying inside? Spice is tricky and slightly subjective depending on your individual taste. This question led American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912 to create the Scoville scale, which measures the pungency of chili peppers aka Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Scoville measured the concentration of capsaicin, which is the active ingredient that produces that sensation of heat on our tongues, and then assigned a number rating to that pepper based on how many times he had to dilute the solution to eliminate the heat. Jalapeño peppers, for instance, have a Scoville rating of 10,000, which means a Jalapeño solution would have to be diluted 10,000 times before the heat was neutralized.
Here is a chart that demonstrates the Scoville Heat Scale. How many SHUs can you handle?
Today the hottest pepper is the Carolina Reaper at 2.2 million SHU followed by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion at 2 million SHU - mind you a Serrano pepper is 23,000 SHU so these are a couple of HOT chili peppers. There’s also a new pepper called “Pepper X,” which is claiming to measure in at 3.18 million SHUs and is currently being assessed by the Guinness Book of World records.
A few years ago the ghost pepper challenge went viral and there are countless videos online of people eating spicy peppers. So what’s it like to eat a Carolina Reaper? Here’s an account from VICE and honestly it sounds pretty painful!
The Scoville scale also tests hot sauce in addition to peppers. Hot Ones is one of the original shows that puts celebs heat/pain tolerance to the test. Everyone from Gordon Ramsey, Shaq, Charlize Theron, to Daniel Radcliffe (yes Harry Potter!) has been challenged with varying degrees of hot sauce on the Scoville Scale. No surprise that Hot Ones was the first to make a hot sauce from “Pepper X” called the Last Dab. You can order it here or browse the full list of hot sauces from the show here ranked by SHUs.
Quick PSA. If you mistakenly eat something super spicy, whatever you do - DO NOT add water! Instead:
Cool down with dairy - milk, yogurt. The protein in dairy quickly breaks down capsaicin.
Add sugar - it helps neutralize the heat of chili peppers
Add some acid - Lemon, lime, and even chopped tomatoes can cut through intense heat
Grab peanut butter - your secret weapon! The fat content in nut butters can help temper the flame.
Otherwise, enjoy and spice up your life!
I consider myself a connoisseur of bedding so imagine my delight when I discovered that the English created a standard of measure for DUVETS! Introducing TOG (thermal overall grade), which is a measure of warmth not comfort. Tog measures the thermal resistance of a unit area and is equal to ten times the temperature difference (in Celsius) between the two surfaces of a material when the flow of heat is equal to one watt per square metre (or 0.1 m^2 K/W). Apparently, the material with one of the highest tog rating is bubble wrap and one of the lowest is cement. Obviously, neither of those materials optimizes for comfort, which is essential in my book!
In a practical sense, the lower the togs the less heat, and the higher the tog rating than the more insulated the duvet. It depends on how hot you get while you sleep, but the recommendations are as follows:
Light Summer duvet: 3.0 - 4.5 tog
Spring/Autumn weight duvet: 7.5 - 10.5 tog
Winter weight duvet: 12.0 - 13.5 tog
Pro tip: if you combine a 4.5 tog and 9.0 tog duvet for 13.5 togs then you’ll get the ideal combo for all seasons. Kids should never have duvets warmer than 10.5 togs and babies need to be over a year before they can sleep under a duvet.
Fluffy Moment - Last March I came back from skiing and I had a terrible night’s sleep, just so hot and totally uncomfortable. I barely got any rest and when I woke up, the first thought that crossed my mind was that the level of togs of my duvet was to blame. I promptly ordered a new duvet (4.5 togs btw) that arrived the next day, only to discover - the bedding wasn’t the issue, I was sick with covid (oops!). Fortunately I was able to recover under the perfect duvet!
Now that you know about SHUs and TOGs, you’ll be able to find your “Goldilocks” comfort zone in no time!