When it comes to personal safety and security there are many choices of what to use, train in, or defend yourself with. This article is going to focus on one particular self defense tool, pepper spray.
What is Pepper Spray?
Pepper spray, also known as OC spray (from “Oleoresin Capsicum“), OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and even temporary blindness) that is used in riot control, crowd control, and personal self-defence, including defence against dogs and bears. Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision. This temporary blindness allows officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits persons using pepper spray for self-defense an opportunity to escape.
Although considered a non-lethal agent, it may be deadly in rare cases, and concerns have been raised about a number of deaths where being pepper sprayed may have been a contributing factor.
The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, including chilis. Extraction of oleoresin capsicum from peppers involves finely ground capsicum, from which capsaicin is extracted in an organic solvent such as ethanol. The solvent is then evaporated, and the remaining waxlike resin is the oleoresin capsicum. An emulsifier such as propylene glycol is used to suspend the OC in water, and pressurized to make it aerosol in pepper spray. The high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method is used to measure the amount of capsaicin and major capsaicinoids within pepper sprays.
Pepper spray typically comes in canisters, which are often small enough to be carried or concealed in a pocket or purse. Pepper spray can also be bought concealed in items such as rings. There are also pepper spray projectiles available, which can be fired from a paintball gun. It has been used for years against demonstrators.
The word Mace, a registered trademark of Mace Security International, is often used synonymously with pepper spray or tear gas; Mace was one of the original manufacturers of nonlethal security sprays in the US. However, not all of their products can be considered pepper spray.
What are the effects of Pepper Spray:
Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent. It 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
Are there restrictions on its use in California: Yes
In California, the container holding the defence spray must contain no more than 2.5 ounces (71 g) net weight of aerosol spray.
How do you neutralize the effects of Pepper Spray?
Capsaicin is not soluble in water, and even large volumes of water will not wash it off. Victims are generally encouraged to blink vigorously in order to encourage tears, which will help flush the irritant from the eyes.To avoid rubbing the spray into the skin, thereby prolonging the burning sensation, and in order to not spread the compound to other parts of the body, victims should try to avoid touching affected areas. There are also wipes, manufactured for the express purpose of serving to decontaminate someone who has received a dose of pepper spray. Many ambulance services and emergency departments use baby shampoo to remove the spray and with generally good effect. Some of the OC and CS will remain in the respiratory system, but a recovery of vision and the coordination of the eyes can be expected within 7 to 15 minutes.
How do you Purchase It:
You can purchase pepper spray on line, or at sporting goods retailers. Often you can find it as well at army/navy surplus stores, gun shows, and general retailers. There is no forms to fill out, and no government approval for purchase.
Different levels of strength:
The measure of pepper spray strength is the percentage of capsaicinoids present in the spray mix. The capsaicinoid level in any product can be measured in the laboratory using an instrument called a High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC). Laboratory methods are established by both the Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC), Method 995.03, and the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA), Method 21.3.
Capsaicinoids found in red pepper extract consist of three very similar chemical compounds. These compounds can temporarily produce severe skin irritation, cause the eyes to slam shut, cause spasms in the lungs, produce uncontrolled sneezing and large amounts of sinus mucus. This combination of physiologically catastrophic events can temporarily incapacitate an individual and eliminate the need for the use of lethal force.
Knowing or specifying the percentage of capsaicinoids contained in a pepper spray mix eliminates the guesswork when you are comparing or evaluating pepper spray effectiveness. For example, a pepper spray containing 0.2% capsaicinoids packs much less punch than one that contains .6%. The good pepper sprays will have the percent capsaicinoid content of the mix printed conspicuously on the label for easy comparison.
Shelf Life of Pepper Spray:
All pepper sprays have a shelf life. The average shelf life of a pepper spray is 3-4 years. Many defensive sprays have an expiration date stamped on the canister. OC will not degrade over time, but the unit may not spray as far as expected, if at all, if it is used past its shelf life. The aerosol propellant may leak out, rendering the spray less effective. This is especially true with the smaller sprays like the key chain.
The nature of the product suggests that effectiveness is of utmost importance. We recommend replacing your spray long before its expiration date to ensure you have a new, fresh canister of spray when you need it most.
It is advisable to test your canister of spray periodically, even once every 6 months. A test requires only a one second burst, sprayed outdoors. Be sure you are standing upwind when you test the spray. Once you decide to replace your pepper spray, you can then use your old canister as a training spray. Set up a target outdoors and practice spraying the old spray until the canister is empty. This will give you more confidence using your pepper spray in a real life situation.
How do I use the Pepper Spray:
It is very important that you get some training and practice with the specific spray you are going to carry. Study the canister, the nozzle, and the dispenser. You can train yourself at home with a few simple tips.
How to practice with outdoor targets
- Print out a few copies of a person’s face with your computer printer
- Tack the printed copy on a tree or fence, equivalent to a person about 6 feet tall
- Stand upwind, several feet away and practice firing at the target in one second bursts.
- Make sure to try and aim directly between the eyes. The pepper spray will affect all the mucous membranes
and even the exposed skin, but you want your attacker’s eyes to immediately close.
You can also purchase an inert training spray that you can use on human targets. This gives you the practice of a live target, but without the extreme pain that comes with an OC spray model.
In an emergency situation, make sure you have distance between you and the attacker. Don’t get within their grabbing distance. Don’t threaten an attacker with your spray. Fire 2 or 3 second bursts directly into the eyes of the attacker. If it is not working, give them another two seconds. The small pocket or purse size will give you between 5 and 10 seconds of continual fire.
Pepper spray has no electronic parts, no battery and no need for charging. The contents do not settle in pepper spray canisters. So your pepper spray is ready when you need it, without worry of it not working. Pepper spray takes your opponent out of the fight for 15 minutes when sprayed correctly. It can be carried easily, weighs almost nothing, and has a long shelf life. I recommend EVERY PERSON that is on the path of preparation to have at minimum one canister of pepper spray, and know how to use it. It should be part of your Survival Vest, or your bug out bag. For those using a larger canister the hip holster version is IDEAL.
God Bless You
God Bless America