Pepper spray is also known as “oleoresin capsicum” or OC. The spray is made from the same chemical that naturally occurs in chili peppers. Capsicum makes them hot, and anyone that has rubbed their eyes or nose after handling hot peppers knows what the chemical can do to mucus membranes and even to skin.
Pepper spray has a higher concentration of the chemical, so imagine the effect at more concentrated levels. Its effects include temporary blindness, coughing and skin irritation. Typically, the chemical is combined with glycol and water, and some type of propellant.
It can come in concentrations ranging from one to 10 percent, which is equal to two and 15 million Scoville heat units respectively, making it a very potent deterrent.
Does It Work For Self-Defense
Prepper spray works to varying degrees. How effective it really is all depends on what you expect from it. Will it distract an assailant, or an animal such as a bear or vicious dog, yes it will. Will it incapacitate an animal or human to the point they cannot function, yes in some cases, but pepper spray’s effects vary and you cannot always count on the person stopping the assault or attempted assault.
The effects of the spray are immediate, temporary blindness, pain and skin irritation, but this does not mean a person will stop struggling. They can flail their arms, thrust a weapon or even discharge a firearm, but in most cases they are distracted enough for you to escape. The pain in the eyes and running mucus from the nose makes most people stop doing what they are doing, they want the pain to go away so their attention is off you at this point. The same would apply to an animal that has been sprayed in the face.
The first instinct for humans it to put their hands to their face in an attempt to remove what is creating agony for them. This means their hands are occupied for the moment, weapons are forgotten, and any hold on you is released.
The spray is not intended to be a lethal defense maneuver nor even one that causes permanent harm. Even though pepper spray is classified as non-lethal, if someone has underlying medical conditions, lung/breathing problems, pepper spray can cause a serious reaction.
If you walked, around all day with the spray at the ready then you are all set but no one does this. The spray is usually in the bottom of a purse, in a briefcase or in the glove box of the car when you need it. Like any weapon, you need to practice bringing it to bear so it can be used effectively. It does you no good in the bottom of your purse when someone is trying to grab your purse. Learn to carry all weapons so your hands have access to them even without looking.
Pepper spray can blow back on the user if it is windy and in some cases like any spray container, you can accidentally spray it in the wrong direction.
You have to know how it works, how much you have in the canister and the effective range of the spray. The so-called bear spray has one advantage over the smaller canisters and that is its range. The mixture is not anymore potent necessarily than any other it just sprays further is all.
In any confrontation you want to avoid physical contact, so personal defense weapons have to be such that you can prevent this. A small canister with an effective range of two feet is not adequate. You are not fighting off friends here you are stopping a physical assault or robbery, so do not skimp. Buy extra so you can practice with it. If you discharge spray from a canister use it for practice and replace with a new one.