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The Ins and Outs of Pepper Spray by Pepper Spray Patty
August 2010
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The Ins and Outs of Pepper Spray by Pepper Spray Patty

Pepper Spray Patty

Pepper Spray Patty

By Pepper Spray Patty

Pepper spray is by far my favorite self-defense product of choice!  Typically it comes in an aerosol container in varying sizes (some on the larger size and some as small as a tube of lipstick).  You can find pepper spray that comes in a basic aerosol can as well as tiny pepper sprays that go on your keychain!  The variety goes on and on.  In my experience, most of the pepper sprays that I’ve come across can be used a couple times from 8-20 feet away.  However, it really depends on the pepper spray type you choose.  It’s certainly something to consider when you purchase your pepper spray.  If you’d like to avoid coming too close to your attacker, make sure the range on the pepper spray’s spray is on the lengthier end.  I feel sorry for an attacker that gets too close to me because I have no problem using my pepper spray at a very close range and I will do it without hesitation! 

As a rule of thumb, the size of the pepper spray container generally determines how much it holds and even how far away it will spray out.  Keep in mind, pepper spray is not the same as mace or tear gas!

It’s actually really interesting; I’ve been a huge fan of pepper spray since my mom bought me my first pepper spray container when I went away to college.  It seems as though it’s become quite the popular self-defense weapon.  I’m surprised by the number of women that accessorize their pepper spray with their outfits and lifestyles!  I’ve even seen some women with concealed pepper spray jewelry such as The Stunning Ring.  My personal favorite is Pepper Shot Pepper Spray in a holster.  It goes right on your keychain for easy access.  No muss, no fuss!  It seems as though there’s as much variety in the women that carry spray as there are in the different types, sizes and container styles.  I suppose you can’t have a one-size-fits-all when it comes to women!  I read somewhere that there are around 40 different pepper spray manufacturers.  That’s pretty impressive.  I definitely think that every woman should carry a self-defense product, whether pepper spray, mace, a stun gun or a TASER.   Make sure you read about the state, county and city restrictions on self-defense products here.

An Overview on Pepper Spray

Pepper spray has one active ingredient (the one that causes the burning irritation)—OC or oleoresin capsicum.  I have to admit, I was a little amused to find out that OC is made from Cayenne peppers.  I guess I love my food and pepper spray on the spicy side!  OC itself is actually a fiery orange-red, oil-like liquid that doesn’t dissolve in water.  OC is sprayed out from your pepper spray container in a few different patterns (based on the model):

  1. Forced Cone – This is considered to be the best all-around choice.  The forced cone spray consists of a fine mist that goes as far as 8-12 feet with little wafting back in your direction.  However, I always remind my friend that if there’s a breeze or strong wind that it can be pushed back in your direction!


  1. Broken Stream or Heavy Stream – This can be a great option if you need to spray multiple attackers or have to spray an attacker in the dark.  The stream can be spread out over a large area, sending out a concentrated stream of pepper spray.  The only downside to this type is that the pepper spray containers will run out quickly because of the intensity of the spray.  This spray type can go as far as 15-20 feet, which is pretty far away, and isn’t quite as affected by wind.


  1. Fogger – Fogger is a good option if you want to deter multiple attackers or create a barrier of fog.  I have lots of friends who feel this is a good form of at-home protection in case of intruders.  There is a bit more blow-back with this option than the others, but it would be nothing compared to what anyone attempting to attack you would get!  Most of the foggers I’ve seen can shoot as far as 15-20 feet.


  1. Foam – This option has the least amount of blow-back and immediately bothers the attacker on contact.  It’s one of my favorites because it’s really sticky foam that works instantly!

I’ve had a lot of friends ask me about pepper spray and it seems as though most of them seem to think that the higher the percentage the hotter and more effective it is.  It isn’t always the case!  The best ones, and my favorites, fall between 2-10%.  The finer the mist, the quicker it is absorbed by the attacker’s body. 

What Will My Pepper Spray Actually Do to An Attacker?

As soon as pepper spray comes in contact with someone eyes, skin or lungs it irritates them like crazy!  People sprayed with pepper spray will often cough and choke due to the irritation.  It is extremely irritating and sometimes a bit painful.  Generally, it’s irritating enough that the attacker will momentarily be too distracted to continue trying to get at you.  People sprayed with pepper spray often find it blinding for 10 minutes to an hour!  This should give you a reasonable window to run away in.  Thankfully OC is effective on even those who do not feel pain in a typical manner because it is an inflammatory.  Even someone who’s drunk or on drugs won’t be able to escape the fury of your pepper spray!

Am I Legally Allowed to Carry Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray is very popular because it is a non-lethal self-defense product that is extremely effective but causes no long-term harm.  But, there are many states, counties and cities that restrict the purchasing and use of pepper spray.  Remember, it is also illegal to carry pepper spray onto a commercial plane!  You definitely wouldn’t want to make that mistake!  You should check with your local police department to see if there are any local restrictions on pepper spray in your area.  You can also read more about state and city pepper spray restrictions here.

What is the Best Way to Use Pepper Spray?

When you use your pepper spray in self-defense (which is the only reason you should be using it) make sure you are the appropriate distance from your attacker so that the blow-back is minimal.  Make sure you try to aim the spray or stream at your attacker’s eyes and face before pressing the release, if possible.  As soon as you’ve hit your attacker with the spray, step back and see if your attacker reacts.  If he doesn’t seem too affected, spray him again.  Make sure that you move back after every spray!  As soon as your attacker is thoroughly affected by your pepper spray get away from him and either use your cell phone and call the police or find a safe place with a phone from which to call the police. 

Pay Attention to the Expiration Date!

Believe it or not, pepper spray has a limited shelf-life!  Typically it lasts for 3-4 years before expiring, though some expire quicker.  The expiration date should be printed on the pepper spray container.  I definitely wouldn’t risk using expired pepper spray!  Besides, I love having an excuse to buy a new model pepper spray container.

Testing your Pepper Spray

Pepper spray loses its potency as time passes.  I’ve been told that you should you’re your pepper spray by firing it for a portion of a second after you first get it and then every so often after (every few months).  It is VERY important that when you test it that you point it away from yourself, do it outside and make sure the wind is not blowing in your direction.  Keep in mind that every time you test it you’re emptying it a bit.  If you have a small pepper spray container you may want to consider replacing it if months have gone by and you’ve tested it a few times.  Many pepper spray manufacturers list out how and when to test your pepper spray and when to replace it.  If you’re not a fan of reading the instructions that come with new products, this is one time you’re going to want to force yourself to.  It could save your life!

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