Are pepper sprays really effective for self
a few schools of thought on the subject. So
here's a little scenario (I hope you never
find yourself in) that may help you decide
for yourself. Picture this...
through a parking lot towards your car. You have your keys in hand ready to
unlock your car door, when from out of nowhere someone jumps out and grabs your
purse. Remembering your self-defense lessons, you put your keys between your
fingers and punch him.
He backs up a few feet in pain, but it doesn't stop him. Now he's just pissed
off and he's coming back. This time he means to hurt you bad. But by now, you already
have your pepper spray ready because it's attached to your keys. You shoot him
in the face from eight feet away and in less than two seconds the attack is
over. Your attacker is now on the ground, rubbing his eyes in pain, and trying
to catch his breath.
What can be said about pepper spray that hasn’t already been said? Well, for
those of you who haven’t heard it yet, I’ll say this. Pepper spray works as an
excellent personal self-defense weapon.
What is pepper spray?
The main ingredient in pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum, which is a highly
inflammatory liquid derived from the concentrated juice of ordinary hot chili
peppers. The chemical heat of pepper spray is measured on a scale known as the
Scoville heat unit scale, or SHU.
A pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville first developed it around 1912 and the
Scoville scale is the accepted standard for measuring how hot a chili pepper is.
Even though there are now more advanced methods for determining the exact amount
of chemical heat in a chili pepper, the scale is still called the Scoville heat
unit in honor of its inventor.
To put the strength of pepper sprays into perspective, consider this...
1. A Sweet Bell Pepper has a heat rating of 0 shu
2. A Jalapeno Pepper has a heat rating of between 3000 and 8000 shu
3. Tabasco Sauce and Cayenne Pepper have a heat rating of between 30,000 and
4. A Habanero Pepper (which is one of the hottest peppers on earth) has a heat
rating between 100,000 and 350,000 shu
Most Defensive sprays have a rating of between 1,500,000 and 5,000,000 shu, with
the average pepper sprays ranging somewhere
around 2,000,000 shu.
To put that into perspective, think of the last time you bit into some really
spicy food or a really hot pepper. You know, the kind you cautiously bite
You take a small bite, start chewing, and in about 2 seconds your lips and
tongue start to get hot. Then it feels like your tongue is swelling, and your
eyes begin to tear up. You may even start to sweat a little as you feel your
face going flush. Drinking water only makes it worse, so you try to eat some
bread or crackers to cut down the burning.
Your friends are either asking you if you’re ok, or they’re laughing their butts
off at how silly you look running around the room in circles. After a few
minutes, things start to cool off and you’re just glad it’s over.
Now take that sensation, times it by a hundred, and rub
it all over your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth. That might
give you some idea of what it feels like to be shot in the face with
I personally have been shot in the face a number of times with pepper spray. The
first time was on purpose, (no I’m not a masochist), but I had to be
convinced that pepper sprays really worked before I could sell them in
good conscience to anyone else. The second time was a couple of years
later, when a friend of mine was test firing a pepper spray and she
accidentally got me in the face with it. (At least she said it was an
accident, so we’re still friends for now) Let me assure you right now,
Pepper spray is really only effective when your target is sprayed in the
area of their face.
The average effects of pepper spray are,
1. A burning sensation to the affected areas causing some pain
2. Eyes tear up and swell shut automatically
3. Swelling of the mucus membranes in the nose and throat, making it
very difficult to breath
These effects usually last about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the
strength of the pepper spray and how much of the spray actually hits
your target in the face.
Pepper spray dispensers come in many shapes and sizes. From small units
that attach to a keychain, all the way up to fire extinguisher sized
units used primarily by law enforcement agencies for crowd control.
I’ve seen pepper spray disguised as
Pepper Spray Pens
Pepper Spray Lipstick and more...
But some of the most popular pepper sprays are
the ones that attach to your
These units make it more likely that you’ll always have
your pepper spray close at hand while walking through a parking lot
towards your car. And as long as you remember your pepper spray, you
won’t forget your keys, so you’ll be able to unlock that car door when
you get there.
Do Pepper Sprays work every time?
Unfortunately, nothing works
100% of the time on everybody (even a gun
doesn't stop everyone on the first shot) and
while pepper sprays do make for an
excellent self defense weapon,
it's always a good idea to have a back up
plan... just in case.
The main thing to remember is that like any personal self-defense
weapon, pepper spray needs to be readily available for use or it won’t
do you any good. A pepper spray that’s hiding in the bottom of your
purse won’t prevent an assault any more than a key that’s left in your
office will unlock your car door.
Copyright © 2006 North American Security
Products, LLC All rights reserved.
Author: SA Rubin