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Everything You Need to Know About Buying Pepper Spray

If you’ve ever bitten into a chili pepper and in addition to the intense burning in your mouth, found your eyes and nose burning and watering. Then you’ve experienced a very small sample of the sensations that pepper spray can cause. Before we go on, let’s get some definitions out of the way:


• Oleoresin – A naturally occurring mixture of oil and resin extracted from plants.

• Capsicum – 1. Any of various tropical American pepper plants of the genus Capsicum. Especially any of the many cultivated forms of the species C. annuum and C. frutescence. 2. The fruit of any of these plants, especially the dried pungent types used as a condiment and in medicine.

• Capsaicin – A colorless, pungent, crystalline compound, C18H27NO3, that comes from capsicum and is a strong irritant to skin and mucous membranes.

Manufacturing Pepper Spray:

The pungent “Spicy” heat in peppers comes from naturally occurring chemical analogues called Capsaicinoids. Most OC sprays contain an extract from natural peppers. Capsaicinoids are also produced synthetically. This article will focus on products produced using natural ingredients.

Oleoresin Capsicum was called the active ingredient in swift cbd spray. However, as you read this article you will understand why that statement is a little misleading. For years Professional Law Enforcement officers all over the nation have referred to Pepper Spray as “OC” or “OC spray.” Many of them, like myself thought Oleoresin Capsicum was the active ingredient. I reality, it’s Capsaicin, a derivative of capsicum, that is more accurately the active ingredient in Pepper Spray. Capsaicin, a potent irritant is added to a solvent, such as alcohol or water, then packaged in an aerosol container as pepper spray. Capsaicin in its’ pure form is a white powder and has a Scoville Heat Rating of 16,000,000. A single drop of pure Capsaicin is so hot that a single drop diluted in 100,000 drops of water will produce blistering on the tongue.

Depending on the manufacturing process, pepper spray can be dispensed anywhere from a few inches to several feet away from your target. When the active ingredient contacts the skin, it can temporarily incapacitate an attacker. The attacker experiences intense burning of the skin, nose and eyes, making it difficult to see and affording you an opportunity to leave the area. Some formulas produce a spray, others a foam stream. Still others add a harmless vegetable dye, to help police identify perpetrators.

Capsaicinoids produce the “heat” in peppers. Not all peppers are hot. Some are actually mild, even sweet. That’s because peppers, like most other plants grow in many varieties and environments. Since the “spicy” heat in peppers was variable, a way had to be devised to measure and rate the pungency in peppers.

In 1912 by Pharmacist Wilbur Scoville created one of the earliest systems for measuring the “Heat” in peppers. Scoville developed an empirical system based on the subjective sensitivity of a panel of 5 human “tasters” The “Scoville Scale,” was actually extremely inaccurate. But, Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) remained the standard for measuring the pungency in peppers until the early 1960s when the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) introduced a different version of the Scoville Method. Over the next 35 years the evolution of science allowed for much more accurate analysis. Finally, in 2003 the ASTA and the American Organization of Analytical Chemists (AOAC), approved the standards used by most of the industry today.

Today, the industry still uses SHUs for labeling of many pepper spray products. However, terms like Pure Capsaicin (PC) and Total Capsaicinoids (TC) replace or accompany the SHU measurements. Under the new standard, both the ASTA and AOAC rate pure Capsaicin at 16,000,000 SHUs. Pepper Sprays intended for use on humans are rated from 200,000 to 2,000,000 SHUs or higher. Sprays intended to repel large animals, such as bears are rated at 9,000,000 SHUs or more.

Buying Pepper Spray:

Before you make a selection, here is what you should consider:

· What size and shape canister should you get?

· What strength Pepper Spray do you need?

· Are you a Jogger?

· Do you hike the back country?

· Do you live, work or drive in a high crime area?

· Do you work early or late?

· Are you a student?

· Do you attend venues?

· Do you sometimes socialize with someone you don’t know well?

· Are you concerned about vicious dogs, bears and other wild beasts?

· Do you want protection against carjackers, rapists, and muggers?

· Are you concerned about protecting yourself in your own home?

Next, we’ll consider manufacturers and vendors. There are dozens of manufacturers and web vendors selling pepper spray. So many choices make deciding difficult.

Focus on the following areas:

· Is the brand one which police departments use?

· Remember, the term “Police grade” does not mean it’s a quality product.

· What size container are you buying? ounces or grams (1oz = 28.3495 gm)

· Are the Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) provided? (Use caution if this information is missing.)

· Is the absolute value of Total Capsaicinoids (TC) provided? (Use caution if this information is missing.)

· Is the OC Percentage provided? (Use caution if this information is missing.)

· Based on what you now know, are the vendors’ product claims reasonable? (If it sounds too good to be true… )

· Is there an expiration date on the pepper spray? (Pepper Spray does not last indefinitely)

Some online vendors may make claims which are intentionally confusing, while others may not be that familiar with the products they sell. Ask questions. If the vendor can’t or won’t answer your questions, you should consider other vendors.

Dozens of different brands of cheap pepper spray are being sold everywhere online. Some products are advertised as costing just pennies per container. Think about it, there are times when it’s smart to buy something cheap. When the product could save your life, cheaper may not be so smart.

Non-lethal defense products, like pepper spray, incapacitate your attacker. Since most people don’t meet an attacker every day, you have no choice but to carry your pepper spray with you everywhere. Never knowing if you will need it. You carry it in a purse, on a belt, in a pocket; indoors and outdoors; in freezing as well as hot humid weather. Under those conditions, cheaper pepper sprays may fail. So, if one night you or someone you love needs pepper spray, a cheaper brand may not work as expected.


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