Less Than Lethal Self Defense Blog

Shopping for a pepper spray device

Pepper SprayLance Murray2 Comments

Hi everyone,

If you have been shopping for a pepper spray device for your self-defense and you find it all confusing. Well let me try to make it a little easier to understand.

Effective range

One thing you should be looking for is how far it will shoot out, they can range from 6 feet to upwards of 20 feet or more.  This mostly depends on the size of the container (can), the larger the can, usually the greater the distance it will shoot, so If you are looking to carry one in your purse or pocket it will probably be a 2oz or 4oz size. With good 2oz size model they usually are good for 8 to 15 feet. You can get them in a spray (stream), a fogger, or a gel, the gel tends to have a greater effective range.  With a good 4oz unit it usually has a greater effective range of 15 to 20 feet and comes in a spray (stream), fogger, and gel.

Next is Strength

You want to have one that is strong and effective.

The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, including chilis

Determining the strength of different manufacturers of pepper sprays can be confusing and difficult. Statements a company makes about their product strength are not regulated. A method using the capsaicin and related capsaicinoids (CRC) content of the product is unreliable as well, because there are six different types of capsaicinoids, causing different levels of irritation. Manufacturers do not state which particular type of capsaicinoids are used. Personal pepper sprays can range from a low of 0.18% to a high of 3%. Most law enforcement pepper sprays use between 1.3% and 2%.

 CRC does not measure the amount of OC within the formulation. Instead, CRC is the pain-producing component of the OC that produces the burning sensation.

The federal government of the United States makes no mention of Scoville heat units (SHU) or OC in their requirements, a few states within the US (Michigan with a 10% OC limit) that do mention OC limitations.

Some manufacturers may show a very high percentage of OC and, although OC is the active ingredient within the formulation, it does not indicate pepper spray strength. High OC percentage also indicates that a spray has more oil content; which, can possibly use lower grade pepper oils (but, more of it), or lower grade capsaicinoids (within the major CRCs) and also has less ability to soak and penetrate skin than a formula with a less, but higher-quality, pepper oil, because oil has hydrophobic properties.

The OC percentage measures only the amount of chili oil extract contained in the defense spray, not the strength, pungency or effectiveness of the product. Other companies may show a high SHU. The SHU is a measurement of the base resin compound and not what comes out in the aerosol. The rated irritant effect of the resin may be diluted depending on how much of it is put in the can.

“The Wildfire 18% formula is one of the hottest, and more importantly, the fastest reacting spray we’ve ever tested.  This spray immediately permeates the pores of the skin, closes the eyes, and inhibits the respiratory system.  What makes this product so effective is the purity of the pepper used in formulating this product…only food grade 3 million or 4 million scoville heat units pepper used.  

Effects

You should also know the effects, what it does.

Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent that causes immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing.  The duration of its effects depends on the strength of the spray, but the average full effect lasts around thirty to forty-five minutes, with diminished effects lasting for hours.

I hope with this information you can understand about the pepper spray determining factors and be able to choose a good pepper spray that will help keep you safe

By Lance Murray