Pepper Spray is one of the most readily available tools used in self-defense today, but does that mean it is for you? I will discuss what it is, the different forms of pepper spray, and how to choose the right strength. By the end of this, you will feel confident in finding the right spray that will pack the most punch!
What is Pepper Spray?
Pepper spray is a non-lethal tool that harnesses the power of capsaicin, which is derived from plants from the pepper family. This solution, when sprayed in the face of an attacker, causes extreme discomfort and can restrict breathing.
Pepper spray or gel can be found in so many different types of containers and they are easy for users to use. It does not require much strength and does not require much practice to use. Although easy, it is best to train with a pepper spray practice canister if you are new to using pepper spray products. The practice canister is simply a container with an inert spray that you replace in the tool. You can then practice without the risk of exposing yourself to harsh irritants. This allows you to get used to the spraying mechanism and movement so it is not a surprise. If you have to use pepper spray in a self-defense situation you will be confident in doing so.
Not Just For on Body Carry
Typically, people think of pepper spray as a small canister you carry with you when away from home. However, pepper spray can be used as a personal defense when you are home, too. Specific larger canisters are made for this use. There may be a time when you have to use your pepper spray indoors, this is ok to do. The main difference from using it indoors vs outdoors is the ventilation. The amount of ventilation in a room will affect how long the air will contain pepper spray. This means, if used inside, you will want to exit the room as quickly as possible to avoid self-inflicted exposure.
Finding Your Pepper Spray
Yes, there are so many options out there, it can be very confusing. With so many different types of containers as well as many lower quality sprays available, it’s important to know the basics. There is even a 3 in 1 auto tool with pepper gel that is a great option for being prepared for multiple disasters! There is a perfect pepper spray for you and I will tell you how to find it!
Pepper Spray or Pepper Gel?
Good question! Both options are readily available but what is the difference and is one better?
Pepper spray is as it sounds, a spray. It is a fine mist that is expelled into the air. This means your hit radius is wider however there is the possibility of the user being exposed to back spray. While it is likely to affect your attacker, you and others nearby are at risk of spray.
Pepper gel is a sticky liquid that is expelled. It shoots in a tight stream and can be sprayed up to 20% further than spray because of its thicker composition. This liquid is difficult for an assailant to wipe off which causes more pain and distraction for you to get away. However, due to its narrow stream, precision is a must.
Determining Its Strength
There are so many options out there for pepper spray/gel. Not just by way of their mode of carrying, but what is in the canister and its potency can vary widely. There are many manufacturers that claim they have the BEST and the prices of these products can be all over the place. Here are a few things to look for when shopping for a good self-defense pepper spray.
Remember when shopping, this tool would be used in potentially a life or death situation so make sure you take the time to find a good one.
Hotness Ratings, Demystified
This stands for Oleoresin Capsicum which is the ingredient of pepper spray that is derived from the pepper itself. This percentage in the solution can range anywhere from 2%- 20%. However, this measurement can be misleading as the rating gives you the amount of pepper in a solution, not the strength of that pepper. So, you could have a high OC rating however, the formula could have been taken from a weaker pepper. Two sprays could have the same OC rating of 15%, but if one spray uses low-quality pepper ingredients compared to other using high-quality, the difference in the spray is huge. Simply put, you could have a high OC rating, but if the pepper used is of low quality or heat factor, it wouldn’t be enough to stop an attacker at any level of OC.
Another form of measurement sometimes used is SHU. This stands for Scoville Heat Units. This is the measurement used to determine the hotness rating of the peppers themselves that are in the pepper spray formula. However, this does not account for any dilution once it is put in spray form. Companies may use a high SHU Rated pepper, but if the solution is diluted to an extreme amount, the severity of the spray could be much lower. After this process happens, the SHU measurement could end up being much lower. Simply put, you could have the highest SHU rating imaginable, but if that is just 1 drop of pepper ingredient mixed into gallons of solution, the intensity of that pepper is diluted and no longer as effective against an attacker.
This stands for Major Capsaicinoids rating and this refers to the amount of heat-bearing and pain producing components of a spray, so the higher the value the greater the stopping power. The MC Rating is government regulated by the EPA and Health Canada, as this rating is used for animal pepper sprays. Dog Spray is rated at 0.35%-1.0%, and Large animal/bear spray is 1.0%-2.0%. When purchasing any pepper spray, this is the rating that I feel is most important, as it is the only rating that measures the heat bearing components within the spray.
So why do you need to worry about this and what rating your spray contains?
When using pepper spray or gel as self-defense, you want the solution with the best stopping power. You need something that will incapacitate someone, if only momentarily, so you have more time to get away. What you don’t want is an irritant that just aggravates your attacker more and you cannot free yourself from the situation.
Now that you know so much more about pepper spray I hope you feel confident picking the best pepper spray for your self-defense. Below are a few to get you started on your search!