Pepper Spray Guide - How to Determine the Best One

Oct 13 08:10 2011 Lou Nemeth Print This Article

More and more people are starting to arm them selves for their own protection. A large number of these are looking to defensive sprays to fill this need.  But bear in mind, there are many unique variations of defensive sprays, so it’s important to understand the different options before selecting some for self-defense purposes.

The 3 types of defensive spray

CS Tear Gas  (Orthochlorobenzalmalonitrile)

CN Tear Gas  (alphachloroacetaphenone)

OC  Pepper Spray (Oleoresin Capsicum)

CS and CN tear gas

CS and CN are not actually pepper spray but tear gas. They are made from chemical compounds and are considered to be carcinogens. Long term exposure to CS and CN may cause liver and heart damage and can lead to cancer.

CS and CN are classified as irritants that have an affect on the membrane cells. They cause stinging in the skin,Guest Posting tearing in the eyes and can take up to thirty seconds to take effect. Because they are irritants they are often useless against people on drugs who, as a result of their drug use, may not feel any pain.

In the past, U.S. soldiers have been intentionally exposed to CS in an effort to build up immunity to it’s effects, in the event an enemy attempted to use it in battle. CS gas is officially barred from war-time use by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, but it continues to be used by police departments and foreign governments for crowd control during riots.  

OC Pepper Spray

OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) is the most common of the commercially available defensive sprays. It is an inflammatory compound, as opposed to CS and CN which are irritants. This means that it’s effective against people under the influence of drugs. OC is not a man-made chemical; it's developed from a number of sizzling hot pepper plants, its all-natural, non-toxic and causes zero lasting harm. OC has no lag time, it starts working without right away, and typically takes about 45 minutes for its impact to abate.

OC dilates the eye capillary vessels, which then causes a brief loss of sight. Then, it goes into the throat and inflames respiratory tissue, resulting in extensive coughing. Breathing is not affected so its not life threatening.

For most people, OC is probably the best choice for a self defense product. However, there are now several options to choose from and factors such as formula, and delivery method are important to consider before making a purchase. 


Pepper sprays can be purchased in a wide range of concentrations from 1% to 18%. Most people mistakenly feel that because 18% is the highest number, therefore it’s the most effective.

However, the best way to determine a pepper spray's effectiveness is to find out the heat rating. The heat rating of OC pepper spray typically is calculated in Scoville Heat Units (SHU's). The SHU for an ordinary bell pepper is 0, however Habanero peppers are generally nearly 200,000 to 300,000. Nearly all OC pepper sprays have an SHU around 1,000,000. So a concentration of 18% is ok, but if the heat rating is only around 200,000 it won’t be as effective. Pepper spray with a greater heat rating will incapacitate a criminal and make him a great deal more miserable than a pepper spray with a lower heat rating.

Delivery Method

The delivery method is how the pepper spray is shot out from the canister and what form it takes. For example some pepper sprays take the form of a mist, stream or even a foam.

Every delivery method has completely unique positive and negative aspects. The five delivery methods are; the stream, cone mist, fogger, foam and gel.


The stream functions in a manner a lot like a high strength garden hose nozzle. Massive amounts of pepper spray shot through a small hole very quickly.

Positive aspects – Of the five delivery methods, the stream delivers has greatest range, up to 20 feet. This is a huge benefit because you are likely to maintain a safe distance between you and the attacker. It consists of heavy droplets it's less likely to be affected by heavy wind gusts and certainly won't blow back into your path.

Negative aspects - While the stream delivers the greatest range, an individual needs to be highly accurate in their shot, which can to be hard given the stress and anxiety of the circumstances. If an attacker is close range, it could be hard to get an accurate shot to the face. The stream doesn't last as long as some of the other models, because its under high pressure you are likely to empty your container very fast.

Cone Mist

The cone mister works exactly like hairspray or a living room deodorizer, it might stay in the air for about Thirty seconds.

Positive aspects - The cone mist disperses the spray in a large, spherical shape so the user doesn't have to be completely accurate with their shot. If an assailant approaches close to the mist, he will inhale it and it will permeate the pores of his skin. Considering that it’s comprised of tiny, fine tiny droplets, it will remain in the air for a long time and create a barrier to prevent a criminal to pass through without feeling it’s effects.

Negative aspects - The range is sub par at only about four to ten feet. So the downside is that an assailant could get pretty close to you before you can get a shot off. The cone mist is in fact less successful in gusting circumstances. The wind could blow the mist away from the assailant, or it may blow back toward you.


The fogger, as its name suggests, generates a fog-like spray pattern. Its very similar to the cone mist, however contains noticeably finer droplets, therefore it stays airborne much longer.

Positive aspects - Foggers are typically under great pressure, hence the range is very good, roughly fifteen feet. Foggers are usually not affected by heavy winds and won't blow back in the users location. The fogger provides a mist-like screen, that hovers in the air for several minutes, making it useful against a multiple attackers. It also works well indoors; spraying the fogger in a doorway or hallway can really make it practically impassable.

Negative aspects - Because foggers happen to be under high pressure and they emit a large amount of spray, you will empty out your canister fairly rapidly.

Pepper Foam

The pepper foam resembles a foam-type shaving cream and will cover an assailant's entire head, making it extremely painful to open the eyes.

Positive aspects - The pepper foam attaches to the skin and any effort to rub it away will cause deeper transmission into the pores and skin. It includes a UV color dye that marks the assailant for cops to identify him. The distance is good at 8 to 10 feet.

Negative aspects - It doesn't create a buffer like the cone mist or the fogger. The operator needs to point precisely to succeed in a direct shot to the facial area.

Pepper Gel

The pepper gel is an epoxy-like substance that resembles an industrial type glue and attaches to an assailant's skin.

Positive aspects - The pepper gel adheres to the skin like glue. Similar to the Pepper Foam it marks the attacker's skin for authorities to identity easily, and the range is exceptional at eighteen feet. Any effort to wash it off, will cause even more penetration into the skin area.

Negative aspects - It doesn't produce a barrier like the cone mist or fogger. The user must shoot accurately to carry out a direct shot to the face.

OC pepper spray is the best option for people looking for an effective defensive spray. Its effects are felt immediately, and it causes no permanent damage. It comes in many forms and delivery methods so it important to consider all the positive and negative aspect before choosing one for personal protection.     

Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from

About Article Author

Lou Nemeth
Lou Nemeth

Lou Nemeth is the owner of Apex Self Defense Products, a website that provides information and products related to self defense and home security.  He has written articles on safety and security topics including; home security, surveillance systems, rape prevention, family security, burglary prevention, carjacking prevention and self defense products. To contact him regarding speaking engagements, to purchase surveillance equipment, self defense products, to buy pepper spray , visit Apex Self Defense Products.

View More Articles

Also From This Author