According to Wikipedia, pepper spray is a Lachrymatory agent, ( a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain and temporary blindness. It is an imflammatory agent designed to be used for riot control and is also used on dogs and bears. It is available in different forms such as peppergel, pepperfoam and pepper spray. It is considered a less than lethal agent and has been deadly in rare cases. Just about any form of self defense can be lethal given the right conditions. There have been at least 27 documented cases of death resulting in the use of pepper spray while in police custody since 1993 acording to the ACLU. The active ingredient in pepper spray is Capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plantsin the Capsicum Genus, which includes chilis and peppers and is a Desmethyldihydrocapsaicin. The effective strength of pepper spray is not measured by the amount of OC (oleoresin capcicum), but by the CRC level. CRC is the heat bearing and pain producing components of the OC. The OC rating just tells you how many peppers are in it. A synthetic analogue of capsaicin is used in another version of pepper spray know as PAVA that is used in the United Kingdom. Another synthetic counterpart of pepper spray, Pelargonic acid morphlide was developed and is widely used in Russia. Pepper spray is legal to use in self defense in all 50 states and has a maximum allowable of 10 % OC concentration level. You must be at least 18 years of age, and in New York pepper spray self defense devices must be purchased at a pharmacy or a licensed firearms retailer. In Washington a person over the age of 14 can carry a personal protection spray device with the consent of their legal guardian. In Wisconsin, OC products with a maximum of 10 % of OC concentration in a 2 oz. spray can be used and cannot be camouflaged and must have a safety to prevent from accidental discharge, and must have an effective range of 6 feet to no more than 20 feet along with other requirements. In California, the container holding the defense spray must contain no more than 2.5 oz. net weight of aerosol spray. In Massachusetts residents may purchase defense sprays only from a licensed firearms dealer in that state, and must hold a valid firearms identification card or a license to carry firearms. In Michigan you are allowed to use reasonable use of spray containing not more than 10 % of OC to protect a person or property. In many (but not all) other states , pepper spray can be purchased at various stores and carried legally by anyone over 18. However, other states do not have requirements about age. Look up the laws in your state so you know exactly what you can use. I hope this information has been helpful for you.