Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What type of Pepper Spray or Mace® is Best?

The most popular, non-lethal, personal defense product on the market today is self defense sprays like Pepper Spray or Mace®. But which type is best? The terms are confusing.

Most defense sprays now contain Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) which is not an irritant. This is the best ingredient so make sure the one you purchase contains OC.

OC is an inflammatory agent that creates a couple of things to happen. When a person is sprayed with OC, two things happen without delay. First, the person's eyes clamp shut, hard. Even if they do manage to open them they still can't see well because the OC dilates the capillaries of the eyes and causes temporary blindness. Second, an uncontrollable coughing fit doubles the person over and often sends them to their knees. The OC causes an instant inflammation of breathing tissues, restricting all but life support breathing. The condition is temporary but very debilitating. Whoever is sprayed with it stops what they're doing, stops what they're thinking - so it gives the victim a chance to escape! It works on persons on drugs, drunk, or psychotic.

OC is a natural chemical, a derivative of various hot pepper plants. OC takes about 20 to 45 minutes to wear off. The assailant makes a complete recovery and suffers no harmful effects.

Now, should you purchase a spray, gel, stream or foam version of pepper spray? The best for home use is the pepper gel spray because it has a range of 15 to 20 feet. The pepper gel is recommended for home or vehicle protection. However, the smaller ½ oz size of pepper sprays are effective because they fit easily on your key-ring and will be available quickly when needed even though their range is only 5 to 8 feet, which is usually all the distance you need when walking or hiking.

How can I compare one unit to another in its strength? Defense sprays come in concentrations of 1%, 5%, and 10%. But, due to a number of differences in the formulation, these percentages are not a good indication of the effectiveness of the spray. A 1% spray can be just as effective as a 10% concentration. Three formulation factors: the heat rating of the OC, the type of carrier agent and the spray density, combine to determine how effective any given spray is. The heat generating capacity of OC is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU's). OC is derived from hot peppers. Peppers range from 0 SHU's for standard bell peppers to 5,000 for Jalapeno peppers up to 300,000 SHU's for Habaneros peppers. As you can see, a 10% concentration of Jalapeno peppers is not going to be nearly as effective as a 1% concentration of Habaneros peppers. So compare the Scoville Heat units (SHU's) of a pepper spray not the percentage of the pepper concentration.

To summarize, only purchase self defense sprays with OC (Oleoresin Capsicum). The sprays that attach to a keychain are effective even though they have a range of only 5 to 8 feet. But for home defense purchases, the pepper gel formulas are best because they have a range of 15 to 20 feet. And compare the heat of the various sprays with the SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

No comments: