What is Pepper Spray?
Pepper spray is a non-lethal aerosol used in riot control, crowd control and personal self defense. It is most often used by private individuals to incapacitate an attacker. When you buy pepper spray, the most important active ingredient to look for is a family of chemicals typically derived from the Capsicum genus, a family of plants including chilies.
A group of chemicals called Capsaicinoids are produced in the chili pepper’s placenta; the place where the seeds are attached. The heat in the placenta is about 16 times stronger than any other part of the plant. Known as OC, this active ingredient must be a part of ANY pepper spray protection strategy.
The term OC refers to oleoresin capsicum; a tasteless and odorless alkaloid found in a wide variety of chili peppers such as Jalapenos, Habaneros and Cayenne. They all contain a very powerful substance called Capsaicin (cap-say-a-sin). This substance is so powerful that the heat can be noticeable as a single drop in 100,000 drops of water. In fact, it can be detected at one part in ten million by most people!
At the turn of the 20th century, in 1912, a standard for measuring the intensity of Capsaicin was first proffered by pharmacologist Wilbur Scoville. To calculate the temperature of peppers relative to each other Wilbur developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test.
From its humble beginnings of having brave volunteers taste test samples to establish a Scoville value, the process has changed into a high technology exercise using computers to correctly assimilate and correlate the results of high-performance liquid chromatography. The scale ranges from zero Scoville units for a bell pepper to around 5,000 for a Jalapeno, all the way up to a tear-inducing 300,000 for the small but mighty Habanero! In its purest form, Capsaicin is 15,000,000 Scoville units. Our superior pepper spray formula is derived from the hottest peppers and further processed and refined until the heat rating is 5,300,000 (5.3 million!).
Pepper spray is a non-toxic and non-flammable liquid, foam or gel. Its effects last for between 20 to 90 minutes and spray units can be fired in self defense many times with a range of 8 to 20 feet, depending on the model.
It is an inflammatory agent causing immediate dilation of the capillaries of the eyes, resulting in TEMPORARY blindness. Typically there is also an instant inflammation of the mucous membranes contained in breathing tissues, reducing oxygen intake to just that required for life support. Unlike tear gases, pepper spray will not deteriorate with age and it does not cause lasting aftereffects.
The biggest misconception about pepper sprays protection factor is; the higher the concentration of Capsaicinoids, the better it works. In most cases this could not be further from the truth. The most incapacitating sprays are from 2%-10%. The lighter the fluid, the faster it penetrates.
OC is also extremely effective in the area of self defense against those attackers who seem to feel no pain such as drunks, psychotics and drug abusers. The bottom line is that a good pepper spray provides protection by putting the attacker down and out, allowing you to take control of the situation and escape.