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【How-to】How to Get Pepper Spray Off Your Hands –

Pepper spray 101

If you’ve heard this stuff referred to as “OC spray,” that’s because its active ingredient is oleoresin capsicum. This natural oily extract comes from pepper plants and it’s also likely used to make your favorite hot sauce.

How hot—and therefore, how painful—a spray is varies depending on the concentration of compounds called capsaicinoids. Depending on the plant the extract came from, this percentage can fall anywhere between 1.2 and 12.6 percent. Higher concentrations will provoke a faster inflammatory response than less-aggressive sprays.

Hotness is also measured with the Scoville heat scale, which is used to assess the spiciness of peppers used in food. Jalapeño peppers have between 2,500 and 10,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), while most law enforcement pepper sprays have up to 2 million. Some brands go as high as 5.3 million SHU.

In turn, how long a spray’s effects last depends on the amount of OC in its composition. In personal pepper sprays—the ones you can find in stores or online—OC concentration can be as high as 3 percent, while the maximum percentage in bear spray can’t exceed 2 percent, per federal law. The canisters police use can be up to 10 percent OC, though there have been reports of sprays reaching 30 percent.


Can pepper spray seriously hurt someone?

While pepper spray typically has no lasting effects, there have been cases of severe injuries and even death associated with it. Typically these incidents involve people who have asthma or another respiratory problem or people on illegal drugs. It can also be lethal if the person being sprayed is already restrained in a way that blocks breathing. So, like with many deterrents, there are risks associated with it.


If you’re not careful with pepper spray, you can end up spraying yourself or innocent bystanders. Read on to learn more about the right way to use it.


Pepper spray comes in canisters that often vary from brand to brand. It’s important that you make sure you know how to use your pepper spray (and that it isn’t defective) before you’re in an emergency situation.

First, get used to how the spray feels in your hands. Make sure you know how to remove the safety and practice with it until you never find that you are pointing it at yourself.

To test your pepper spray, head to a deserted outdoor area on a low-wind day. If there is any wind, make sure you’re spraying with the wind and not against it. Point the mouth away from you and hold down the trigger for five seconds.

Take note of how far the stream reaches. This will give you an indication of how close you’ll need to be to an attacker in order to spray their face.

Finally, find a place on your person to store the pepper spray that is accessible. Outer jacket pockets or a holster on the hip is best. Placing it in your purse or wearing it as a keychain may inhibit your ability to get to it quickly.


Practice heightened awareness when you are in vulnerable positions. This includes times when you are out by yourself or in dark, secluded areas. When you are hyper-aware of your surroundings, you are less likely to be caught off guard by an attacker.

If you are approached, get out your pepper spray and remove the safety. At the same time, take a step or two away from your attacker and bend at the knees. Lift both hands in front of your face and avoid extending your arms all the way out in front of you.

You will want to use your thumb to hold down the trigger of your pepper spray. This gives you a firm grip on the canister and allows you to keep your other hand free in the event that you must punch or shove the attacker.

Once you have sprayed the attacker, move away from the area. This will give you more distance from any residual spray in the air. It will also confuse your attacker, who is now temporarily blinded but may lunge toward the location where they last saw you standing.


Most pepper sprays release a stream and tend to have the highest range. They are most effective when sprayed across the eyes and nose in a horizontal motion.

Some pepper sprays release a mist. These should be sprayed vertically, from the forehead area to the chin and back again.

Finally, there are some pepper sprays that release foam and have the lowest range. These you will need to spray in a circular motion as the foam directly hits the attacker’s face.

Where You Should Aim the Pepper Spray

Make note, when you aim pepper spray, it is designed to be used in the face of an attacker.

Hold down the spray canister button and spray it liberally in their face.

You will not blind the person permanently, but you will disable them for up to 30 minutes, which will give you plenty of time to flee.

If for some reason you don’t have a clear shot at the face, just try to spray as close to it as possible.

Ingesting the pepper spray will throw him into a fit of choking and coughing.

Try to make sure you make contact with bare skin, as it will help the effectiveness of disabling your attacker.

Try to get it into the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Do not pause as just a few seconds may turn the situation into your attacker’s favor.

Don’t stop until you see him crouching on the ground from all the pain. When you see this, run as fast as you can and ask for help.

With the prevalence of crime, there is nothing mor

With the prevalence of crime, there is nothing more valuable than being able to defend yourself from all sorts of attacks.

You can never tell who the next victim will be, but you can do something to prevent anyone from attacking you.

Many people are enrolling in martial arts classes so they know how to handle street attacks. You can too.

Also, you should equip yourself with a personal protection device, which you can hold if your martial arts skills aren’t enough to ward off your attacker.

Where can you buy pepper spray?

Some states require you to purchase pepper spray over the counter at regulated stores. But for most others, you can purchase pepper spray at many retailers, including big box stores like Wal-Mart and Kmart. Many people purchase online too (and it can be a lot cheaper), but again online buying may not be legal in your state. Read the fine print on any purchase on sites like Amazon.com to know if the retailer will ship pepper spray to your location.

Pepper spray is serious stuff. Hotter than any one pepper on the Scoville scale, and a serious deterrent. It can offer a lot of security and protection, but, again, know your local laws prior to buying. As long as you’ve done your homework, you’ll feel all the more secure for having a tiny bottle with you as you go about your day.

The Scoville Scale

If you like spicy foods, then you might be familiar with the Scoville scale, which measures the heat index of various peppers based on heat units. The higher the heat unit number, the hotter the pepper is. Here is an example:

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If you are thinking of a pepper spray for self-defense, use a more fiery pepper, such as the habanero or hotter. Cayenne could work as an irritant, but probably not enough to stop the person for very long. So, you would have to be quick in your getaway. The stronger the pepper, the longer it should incapacitate the assailant. And, to add yet another layer to slowing the attacker down, add some black pepper to stimulate coughing.

However, please keep in mind that a pepper spray will have the same effect on an innocent person as it does an assailant. So, be careful where you store the spray, as well as how it’s handled.

For getting rid of the garden nibblers, something as low on the Scoville Scale as the jalapeno could work. You can also combine peppers to make your own strength.

I’m going to make a batch with a mix of cayenne and habanero. I don’t want the heat to be too high, because I will use it primarily to protect the plants. However, with a little bit of added habanero, I will add a little to a smaller spritzer that I can carry for self-protection.

#3 – KeepPepper Sprays and OC SpraysEasily Accessible

Besides holding pepper spray properly, the other common issue many folks have is not having it readily available in case of an attack. This is particularly true for women, who often have their defense spray buried in the bottom of their purses. Pepper spray is of no use to you as a personal protection device if you do not have it when you need it. It defeats the whole purpose of being prepared! With only moments to spare,a criminal will not sit and wait for you to dig out your OC spray, prepare it and deploy. This is why it is absolutely critical to have it ready in case of an attack. An important fact to remember is that someone carrying a knife can close a distance of 21 feet within a matter of seconds, when faced off against someone armed with a gun (). Combine that with the reality that most [untrained] folks will “freeze up” or panic when being attacked and you find yourself with very limited time to react. Keychain pepper sprays are a popular way of keeping your device at the ready. There are others that come in the form of a clip as well, which you can attach to your purse or pocket, if you prefer not to constantly carry a canister in your hand while walking in transition (e.g. parking lot to your car, down the street to your home, etc). DPS Pepper Spray has these different variations, depending on the size of the canister.