Pepper Spray
Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is, in effect, a weapon used by many people for self-defense. Its highly caustic properties severely inflame eyes and nasal passages. Its small and lightweight packaging also makes it easily portable. Different varieties, both natural and synthetic are available at various strengths.

Basic Properties of Pepper Sprays

The ingredient in pepper spray that causes inflammation is capsaicin a natural chemical found in plants such as chile peppers. Some manufacturers produce other varieties of pepper spray, such as PAVA, used in the United Kingdom and which contains a synthetic compound known as pelargonic acid vanillylamide (desmethyldihydrocapsaicin) and pelargonic acid morpholide used in Russia.

All of these products cause eyes to immediately shut and may impair breathing somewhat. The strength of commercial varieties is rated according to the amount of capsaicin in the canister's liquid. That strength may vary from as little one percent to over fifteen percent. At twenty percent the spray will deter a bear attack.

Debate Over Who Can Buy Pepper Spray

Although the effects of most varieties of pepper spray last only temporarily, with the most uncomfortable effects subsiding within an hour, repeated exposure may be dangerous. There have been reports of death caused by pepper spray, but research has yet to substantiate effects from repeated exposure. The American Civil Liberties Union documents such cases. Injuries have reportedly occurred with pelargonic acid morpholide. Despite these dangers many people find pepper spray a legitimate means of self-defense.

An otherwise defenseless woman may adequately ward off an attacker with pepper spray and police find it useful when needing to restrain violent suspects. While many areas do not regulate the sale or use of pepper spray, some countries and states prohibit its usage against humans, others allow people at least eighteen years of age, and others permit it solely for usage against dangerous animals.

Pepper Spray Treatment

No effective treatment exists to counter the effect of pepper spray. An individual may try to relieve symptoms by blinking continuously and thereby producing tears to flush out the chemicals. However, as the effect of the chemicals causes the eyes to shut, blinking becomes excessively difficult. Flushing affected areas with a mild soap and using a fan may bring limited relief. Water is ineffective as capsaicin is not soluble in water.

Self Defense with Pepper Spray

Most commercial varieties of pepper spray are available in small canisters with a button for spraying. Canisters may be small enough to fit on personal key chains or jewelry such as necklaces. A consumer may choose from two different spray patterns, one that shoots a coherent stream for a relatively long distance or one that sprays a mist for a shorter distance.

As this substance is most effective against the eyes and nasal passages, the former may be preferable if the user is able to aim the stream keenly enough to strike an assailant's face. Others who do not possess that skill may prefer the mist variety. However, you should take care that wind may cause the mist to miss its target or even blow it back to you.

Pepper Spray Conclusion

Pepper spray is widely used as a means of self-defense. Its caustic properties cause severe, yet temporary, inflammation of the eyes and nasal passages and there is no effective treatment for its effects. Severe injury and death have reputedly occurred as a result of pepper spray, yet research is still unclear on long-term effects.