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The Ultimate Guide To Pepper Spray

The Ultimate Guide To Pepper Spray

There's a lot of talk going around about pepper spray, and for good reason. It's an incredibly effective self-defense tool that can help you stay safe in potentially dangerous situations. But with all the different brands and types of pepper spray on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about pepper spray, including how to use it safely and effectively. So whether you're looking for your very first canister of pepper spray or just want to brush up on your knowledge, continue reading this pepper spray guide.

What is pepper spray and how does it work?

Pepper spray, also known as OC spray (oleoresin capsicum), OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a chemical compound that irritates eyes to cause tears, pain, and even temporary blindness used in riot control, crowd control, and personal self-defense including defense against aggressive animals.

Is pepper spray good for self-defense?

There is no doubt that pepper spray is the number one selling self-defense product for personal protection. Pepper spray is preferred by millions around the world as their product of choice when it comes to self-defense, especially for female self-defense.

Every law enforcement officer in the country has a canister of pepper spray or defensive spray on their utility belt. The United States Postal Service has issued all their letter carriers with pepper sprays to defend against dog attacks. Individuals, such as students and young women, will keep keychain pepper spray on them while walking alone.

So what makes pepper spray so effective? What makes it the number one product for personal protection? In our opinion, it’s close to obvious. In summary, it’s relatively cheap, very effective, and can be used from a distance. Let us elaborate a little more on these characteristics.

OC sprays are without a doubt the least expensive of all self-defense products. Many of them are available for less than five dollars each.

Defensive sprays are on average close to 90% effective in disabling an assailant in an assault. They come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and disbursement methods from dozens of different manufacturers in the United States. So there are plenty of choices to choose from.

They can disable an assailant for up to 45 minutes from a short burst in the face, which will cause near debilitating pain, and excessive tearing of the eyes and makes breathing very difficult. It’s truly nasty stuff.

Defensive sprays have a range anywhere from six up to 25 feet which for many is a distinct advantage over a stun gun, for example, which must be physically applied to an assailant for it to work. A lot of people, women especially, do not like that physical contact if it can be avoided. That is why they prefer pepper sprays.

Some come disguised which may be an advantage in certain situations. Probably the most popular disguised spray is the lipstick pepper spray, but there is also a pen that has spray in it.

There is a lot of confusion about how they are rated for effectiveness.

Here are some terms to become familiar with:

Scoville heat units (SHU) are a common measurement of hotness. The minimum for any pepper spray is 2 million SHU while some claim to have as many as 5.3 million. The percentage of OC in the product is another common measurement of hotness. Most units are a 10% concentration of oleoresin capsicum but some go as high as 18%.

Another measurement is the CRC (capsaicin and related capsaicinoids) strength. Most defensive sprays have a minimum of 1.3% while bear sprays have a minimum of 2% CRC. One more measurement is a certified heat rating as verified by an independent laboratory.

So now you know what influences pepper spray effectiveness and thus the number one selling self-defense product in the world. Remember, it’s your life that you’re protecting. So choose wisely when picking one.

Reasons Why You Should Own a Pepper Spray

Pepper Spray is the primary nonlethal self-defense weapon for police officers in the pursuit of their duties and by letter carriers for defense against dog attacks: in other words, they are extremely effective and appropriate for the average person.

  1. Affordable, you can purchase an effective spray that won’t stretch your budget,
  2. Pepper sprays are legal everywhere while stun guns are not legal in several states.
  3. Easy to carry and easy to conceal. Many of our pepper sprays are on keychains, so they can be accessed whenever you need one which could be at any time.

Why is pepper spray so effective?

If pepper spray is applied accurately to an attacker’s eyes and face, it should render them incapacitated for at least a few minutes. This should give enough time to create distance between you and an attacker, to alert the police, or run away.

The main drawback of pepper spray is if the attack victim fails to spray accurately at the attacker. Pepper spray is a close-range weapon with maximum effectiveness between four and fifteen feet. Though some defensive sprays can reach up to 25 feet.

A pepper spray gun might be accurate at longer distances, some canisters are small and with lower pressure, meaning they are inaccurate over a few feet.

Pepper spray owners should monitor the product’s condition and expiration date. The spray has a shelf life and can be affected in terms of pressure, chemical mixture, and exposure to heat or cold. It’s important to shake and test the effectiveness of your pepper spray to ensure it works correctly.

There are no legal training requirements for owning pepper spray. While this makes it readily available, it also means people are often less skilled in using it. Attack victims can fail to discharge their pepper spray correctly, ultimately rendering it useless.

If mishandled, pepper spray users may also be affected by the chemicals, making it less effective as a personal protection device.

Learn Effective Self Defense

Pepper spray can be an effective tool against attackers. However, it has its limitations, particularly against multiple attackers at a distance. To practice good self-defense, education is important. Learn to use all types of safety equipment before relying on it.


Pepper Spray Restrictions

Although pepper spray is legal to own in all 50 states, some states place various restrictions on the ownership and use of pepper spray. These restrictions may include the size and weight of the canister, the ingredients used in the spray, and/or who exactly is allowed to buy and carry it for self-defense. Some states have restrictions, so be clear about what your state’s laws are.

There are a few states that place heavier restrictions on Pepper Spray and/or heavier legal ramifications for failure to adhere to those restrictions. In California, for example, civilians can only carry up to 2.5 ounces, and misuse of pepper spray can result in heavy fines and up to 3 years in prison. Hawaii does not allow the purchase of pepper sprays that contain tear gas. In Massachusetts, self-defense sprays are considered “ammunition” and can only be bought from a licensed firearms dealer and then carried by someone with a legal firearm permit, which must be obtained from a police department. These are just a few of the tougher states, but be sure to know your particular state laws and the laws of any state into which you travel while holding pepper spray.

Who uses pepper spray for self defense?

Individuals all over the world use pepper spray, making it the most popular self-defense item on the market. It has been around for thousands of years and can be traced back to Chinese warriors throwing bags of hot spices at their enemies. Below are just some of the people who carry pepper spray with them on a daily basis.

  • Law enforcement officials across the United States regularly carry pepper spray. Army and National Guard troops have also been known to carry pepper spray and military police officers keep some on hand for crowd control and criminal apprehension.
  • Professional women like teachers, nurses, and real estate agents are targets of violence by a 9 to 1 margin over men, leading many to keep pepper spray on their person throughout their daily activities.
  • Homeowners and apartment dwellers should have pepper spray hidden somewhere in their homes while remaining easy to get to protect them in case of a home invasion.
  • Postal workers are issued defensive sprays by the USPS as the primary defense against dog attacks and dog bites.
  • Outdoorsmen like campers, hikers, hunters, and fishermen should never go into the backcountry without pepper spray designed specifically for bears which is the most effective defense against a bear attack.
  • Runners - One of the most effective pepper sprays is a multi-use Runner Defense Product that combines a powerful pepper spray, ear-piercing 125 dB alarm, and a blinding strobe light all in a package that has easy carrying methods with different accessories.

Actually, there aren’t too many people when you get right down to it, who wouldn’t improve their chances for survival in an assault by having pepper spray. Why aren’t you carrying one?


Most Popular Pepper Spray Brands

While we hope you never need to use one of them,
here's a rundown of the best pepper sprays on the market.

  • Sabre Red Pepper Gel - often considered the best pepper spray overall due to its gel formula that minimizes blowback and is more accurate than other sprays.
  • Sabre Red Pepper Gel Spray for Runners - as the name suggests, this pepper spray was designed with runners in mind, combining the ease of a gel spray with a lightweight, easy-to-carry packaging.
  • Sabre 3-in-1 Pepper Spray - this multipurpose defense spray combines pepper spray, tear gas, and UV dye to ensure that you are not only protected but that your attacker is also marked for law enforcement to apprehend.
  • Fox Labs Mean Green - considered the best marking spray, leaving your attacker with a bright green dye that’s incredibly difficult to wash offer doesn’t require a UV light to see.



More on Pepper Spray Brands:

Fox Brand Pepper Spray

When Fox Labs was established in 1992, they did research with chemists and law enforcement personnel to create the premier OC spray in the industry.

In 1993, Fox was the first to introduce a 5% concentration of OC spray with 2 million (SHU) which is a common measure of hotness in products. Other manufacturers at that time were happy with 500,000 SHU resin for their products.

In 1997, Fox Brand pepper sprays introduced a breakthrough formula that revolutionized the industry and has been the standard ever since. It is an OC spray formula using the purest resin rated at 5.3 million SHU.

It has been the standard for law enforcement agencies in the United States since then. It works faster and creates maximum heat virtually instantaneously. A spray in the face of an un-compliant suspect from a law enforcement officer will get compliance in 3 seconds or less. Something that is unmatched even today.

In 2007, Fox Brand pepper spray introduced “Mean Green” a resin rated at 3 million SHUs. “Mean Green” provides stopping power, intense heat, and uses a green dye to identify suspects or assailants.

Mace Brand Pepper Gel

Just about everybody has heard of pepper spray and most have heard of pepper foam but not many people of heard of pepper gel. It’s better than spray or foam in a couple of respects.

First of all, it has a longer range than almost all sprays at 18 feet. It holds up better than spray because it is a much stronger stream. It uses a patent-pending formulation with the oleoresin suspended in a gel.

This spray is nonflammable and sticks like glue. When someone gets sprayed with the Mace Pepper Gel their first reaction is to try and rub it off of their face. All that does is grind in the pepper making the pain much worse. This 79-gram size has thirteen 1 second bursts. Of course like all Mace products, it has a flip-top safety for your protection to prevent accidental discharge.

Pepper spray is bad enough but pepper gel is really nasty stuff.

Streetwise Brands

Streetwise brands had humble beginnings back in 1990 when a man started selling pepper sprays out of the trunk of his car. That was the foundation of Cutting Edge Products, the manufacturer of Streetwise defensive sprays and stun guns that have propelled itself into the limelight of nonlethal self-defense products.

Streetwise brands may have the broadest selection of products of any self-defense product manufacturer. When it comes to pepper sprays, their formulation has been independently tested by a reputable testing company to give credence to their claim that many of their sprays are 87% stronger than the competition.

Streetwise pepper sprays are made in the USA and all have a 48 month shelf life. They have a wide variety of products in two different strengths. One is called Streetwise 18 and the other is Streetwise 23. They use an independent laboratory to test their products and all have a certified heat rating or CHR. The Streetwise 18 Products have a CHR of 180,000 or 46% hotter than competing brands which have an average CHR of 123,000 SHU’s. It is derived from 4 million SHU’s. Streetwise 23 is 230,000 CHR or 87% hotter than competing brands. This is derived from 5 million SHU’s.

How to use pepper spray effectively

Pepper Spray Tips

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your defensive spray:

  • On average, pepper spray is 90 percent effective. It’s best to use the spray outdoors, and wind conditions can affect the accuracy of your aim. So, make sure you take that into account. It can also blow the spray into your face and can disable you, so be careful.

  • Always read and follow the directions of any new product you get. These directions provide accurate instructions on that specific pepper spray.

  • The contents of all sprays are pressurized and can explode if left in a car. Always keep them in a cool, ventilated place.

  • Pay attention to the expiration date on the bottom of your spray. These products are usually good for three years. Expired products may not be as effective.

  • Pepper spray comes in several dispersal methods, such as spray, stream, foam, or mist. The mists and sprays are best for civilian use because the suspect breathes them in. They are not likely to breathe in a stream or foam, so the pepper spray won’t affect the mucous membranes. Your assailant can recover quicker and still assault you while fighting through the burning pain.

  • When using the OC spray, aim for the eyes—but if you hit anywhere on the face, that’s okay. If you have the stream variety, aim the stream to hit their forehead or eyebrows so that it runs down their face into their eyes.

  • Practice using your spray so that you know where the safety is, to prevent accidental discharge. Some OC sprays have grips so that you can hold them in the dark without fear of holding them the wrong way. Also, practice taking it out of your purse or pocket. You need to be able to draw it fast for maximum efficiency.

  • When you spray an assailant, don’t stand around admiring your work. Pepper spray is a distraction technique that allows you the time to escape a dangerous situation. Go get help or just get away.

If you follow these pepper spray tips, you’ll get the most out of your pepper spray. It’s truly an effective, nonlethal self-defense solution. Women love it because it’s easy to use and provides almost immediate results. Pepper spray is easy to conceal or carry in your hand as you walk through a dark, empty parking lot. It gives you plenty of time to get away from your attacker and run to safety or your car.

Tips for staying safe when carrying pepper spray

  1. Know how to grip the pepper spray and access the button to activate it. Some sprays have built-in finger grips that help in aiming. Not all of these defensive sprays are activated the same way so make sure you know how to activate yours. Some sprays have a flip top safety and others slide from left to right or vice versa. The reason this is important to know is that when the time comes to use the product, and it will come, you don’t want to be fiddling around trying to figure out what to do.

  2. Know what the laws are in your state. They are legal in all 50 states, but some cities and states have restrictions on pepper spray potency and the ingredients that are allowed in them.

  3. Know what the capabilities of your pepper spray are before you use it. Every pepper spray has an expiration date stamped on the bottom of the canister. If it has expired, the pepper spray will do you no good. Also if the pepper spray has a maximum range of 8 feet and your target is 15 feet away, your spray will not work at disabling the assailant.

This pepper spray guide is intended offer the best possible advice as you shop for a non-lethal self-defense weapon that can temporarily incapacitate an assailant. Pepper spray is one of the most popular self-defense weapons available, and for good reason - it's easy to use and very effective.

If you're interested in purchasing pepper spray, The Home Security Superstore has the most popular brands so you can choose the right product for you. Keep in mind that restrictions on pepper spray vary from state to state, so be sure to check your local laws before making a purchase. And finally, remember to always use pepper spray safely and effectively by following instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better: pepper spray or pepper gel?

The bottom line is: sprays and gels each have their own pros and cons and which one is best is the one you are more comfortable with. Pepper spray is a liquid that is dispensed from an aerosol can, is typically used at close range and can be very effective in deterring an attacker but it can be difficult to aim. Pepper gel is a thick gel that is dispensed from a tube and sticks to an attacker's skin and clothing, making it more difficult to remove.

Is expired pepper spray still effective?

While some people may be tempted to use expired pepper spray in a self-defense situation, it is generally not advisable. The active ingredient in pepper spray, capsaicin, naturally degrades over time, meaning that older sprays may not be as effective as newer ones. In addition, the propellant in the canister can also deteriorate, making it difficult to deliver a powerful stream of pepper spray.

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