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Pepper Spray Information – Common Questions and Answers

In this article we will review some of the most commonly asked questions about pepper spray. By doing this we hope to clear up some of the misunderstandings about them.

What is oleoresin capsicum or OC?

“It is the oil taken from the placenta near the stem of a pepper.” It is the major ingredient of all pepper sprays. A common misperception is that the percentage of OC indicates the effectiveness or strength of the product.

Are defensive sprays legal?

They are legal in all 50 United States, but some cities and states have restrictions on the percentage of OC that may be used in the product. Since they are legal, no background check or license is needed.

Can you carry OC spray on an airplane?

Current TSA guidelines allow one 4 ounce container of a oc spray in checked baggage, none are allowed on board. If the spray contains more than 2% of teargas they are not allowed even in checked baggage. Pepper sprays are currently available in most foreign countries but may be difficult to find.

What is capsaicin and major capsaicinoids?

Capsaicin is a strongest of the five categories of major capsaicinoids. The total percentage of total capsaicin is really the best way to determine the strength of a pepper spray. Law enforcement and civilian defensive sprays range from.18% to 1.33% major capsaicinoids. Bear sprays by comparison range from 1.0% to 2.0% major capsaicinoids.

What are Scoville heat units?

Scoville heat units are a relative measure of the hotness of any product. They are not necessarily a good indicator of the relative strength of pepper sprays because manufacturers use different formulations for marketing purposes.

How are they used?

Law enforcement officials use pepper spray as part of their ‘continuum of force’ as a major nonlethal method to gain control of a suspect. Civilians use defensive sprays as an effective self-defense weapon. Some sprays are used for defense against bear attacks and dog attacks.

How long will they last?

Most defensive sprays have an expiration date stamped on the bottom of the canister. The usual length of time is three years. Some have an extended shelf life up to four years. The spray is still effective, it is the aerosol that propels it that deteriorates in quality over time.

Those are some of the common question about the most popular self-defense product available. They can disable an assailant for as much as 45 minutes.


 The Home Security Superstore is one of the oldest and largest independent distributors of high quality home security, surveillance, spy, self-defense, survival and safety products.

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