Useful Tools

How to Use Pepper Spray: Proper Uses And Useful Tips

How to Use Pepper Spray

Have you ever watched TV or movies and saw a woman pull out a little canister and spray the criminal in the face? You may even have seen cops use them in TV shows. Well those little canisters are something called pepper spray and they are extremely useful for anyone that’s looking to protect themselves from unknown dangers.

[the_ad_placement id=”in-text-1-type-r”]

Getting pepper spray is actually quite simple and using it is actually just as easy (if not more so). In this article we’ll help you understand a little more so you can be protected when you need it.

What is pepper spray?

Pepper spray has several lesser ingredients along with the one main one, oleoresin capsicum. The lesser ingredients include water or oil as a base. The main ingredient (oleoresin capsicum) is actually made from hot cayenne peppers. If you’ve ever eaten these peppers, cut them or just been around them you know about the effects of those peppers. You know how they can affect different parts of your body immediately, and that’s when you’re not really coming into close contact with them (eating them makes those reactions even stronger).

Pepper Spray

Cayenne pepper is perfect as the main ingredient of this spray for this very reason. When it comes into contact with the skin it can cause burning, itching and watering of the eyes. Imagine how much it could do if it actually came into contact with your eyes.

There’s a reason that you always want to wash your hands after cutting peppers or onions. The oils from those foods can cause you a lot of problems. In small quantities they will burn and cause itching. In large quantities the side effects are exacerbated even more. That’s why the product works so well for protection.

Pick a peck infographic

Did you ever know what it is in those peppers that actually makes your eyes water? It’s something called capsaicin and it’s present in different quantities in different types of peppers. This ingredient is entirely odorless and tasteless but it’s definitely strong enough to give you the effects that you’re looking for. Even small amounts of this ingredient are capable of providing an extremely strong reaction in anyone that happens to be on the receiving end.

All you need to do is make sure that you have a good concentration in your product and you’ll be able to keep yourself safe.

Some states allow different types of pepper spray as well. The traditional pepper spray uses is a type of fogger, which provides for a mist sprayed over your offender. Another version is a pepper spray with all the same effects of a normal spray but it also contains a UV dye. Not every state will allow you to use pepper spray with UV dye so make sure that you look into the rules before you purchase the product. Even if you find it for sale in your state this is not a guarantee that it is legal.

Pepper spray with UV dye will not only incapacitate your offender with the burning of the capsaicin, but will also identify them by spraying dye into their face at the same time. The dye is very difficult to get off and will definitely stay for a period of time. This is one reason that it is illegal in some states though in other states it is a great way to mark your offender whenever you find yourself in danger. The dye could be a different color and the spray itself could be a fog or mist or a stream product.

Where can I find pepper spray?

Pepper spray can be found in a number of different stores. You can purchase them online or even in physical stores. The important thing to look at is the concentration level. You need to make sure that you are getting a legal concentration. Yes, there actually is a specific concentration that is considered legal and anything higher is considered inappropriate for regular civilian use. Anything that is a higher concentration is only approved for police use (or not at all). See our reviews of the best pepper spray to give you more choices.

Make sure that you are looking into the different laws for your state. Some states do not allow civilians to carry pepper spray at all so make sure that your state is one that will allow you to have it. Once you know that you are allowed to carry it make sure that you get the proper concentration level or type as allowed by your state. Some allow you to carry animal sprays but not personal protection sprays. Others may limit the places you can legally purchase from.

Pepper Spray Demonstration

In most states that allow pepper spray for personal protection the limit is 10% concentration of OC. Anything higher than this can be dangerous and is limited to only be used by the police or other law enforcement. The size of the spray bottle that you carry may be limited as well.

For example, Michigan allows you to carry pepper spray with 10% or less concentration of OC that is in a quantity of less than 35 grams. Wisconsin allows you to have a quantity of 15-60 grams. In other areas, like Washington D.C., you must actually register your pepper spray and the fact that you carry it with law enforcement.

Why should I carry pepper spray?

Are you trying to figure out why you should even consider carrying pepper spray? Well there are actually several different reasons that you should carry this product. If you’ve ever been the victim of a crime, whether it was an assault, rape or theft you know how terrifying it can be. You know what it’s like to be victimized and you probably never want to feel that way again, right? You want to make sure that you do everything possible to keep yourself protected from those events.

Now, we’re not saying that you can always protect yourself from dangerous situations or that it is in any way your fault that you were victimized simply because you didn’t have a way to protect yourself. What we are saying is that you can help yourself to feel more comfortable and more confident again. It’s perfectly normal for you to feel uncomfortable going outside again because of the victimization that you suffered.

When you have pepper spray however, you don’t have to feel that way anymore because you have a way to defend yourself (though this is not going to deter every offender).

Girl with Pepper Spray

If you haven’t been victimized previously and you don’t know someone personally that has been it can be a little more difficult to understand why you want to carry this product with you. What you want to think about is the potential for victimization. Approximately 14.9 people per 1000 are estimated to be the victim of a violent crime. While this may seem like a very low number it’s still much higher than what we would want it to be.

Think about where you work or where your child goes to school. How many people are there? Are there 1000 people at your business? If so then 15 of you are likely to suffer from a violent crime. Do you like those odds?

See also: Self Defense Products: Some Great Gadgets for Defending Yourself

Think about your child’s school. How many children attend with them?  Are there 3000 children and adults in that school? If so then approximately 45 of them are likely to be the victim of a violent crime. Do you feel comfortable with those odds? Chances are that you probably don’t. Most parents would look at those odds and feel like there is entirely too high of a risk of their child being hurt. Having pepper spray on you will help protect you and them from danger.

The difference between police and civilian pepper spray

Now pepper spray is slightly different when it comes to different uses. For civilians the level of concentration is much lower than for a police officer’s use. You will need to research what is allowed by your state or country to ensure that you are following the laws.

Police are allowed to use much stronger concentrations of pepper spray because they are trained to use it. Civilians do not (or at least they are not required to) take classes in how to use pepper spray properly or in what situations. This is why it’s important to use only the strength allowed by law.

Police Pepper Spray

Another important difference is in the type of pepper spray that you are allowed to use. Civilians will generally only have a true spray to use. This spray is in the form of a mist which means that it will spray out of the container and into the air. It will be affected by wind or pressure in the area and could be redirected from where you actually wanted it to go in the first place. You’ll want to be careful about how and where you spray it to be careful of this.

For police there is another option other than typical spray. Police are actually able to get a foam product that will work a little better and more directly. Instead of a spray that can be affected by the wind, the foam will spray directly where it’s wanted.

[the_ad_placement id=”in-text-2-type-r”]

This makes them more effective because you don’t have to worry about losing any of the potency or any of the quantity over the distance between yourself and your offender. You also don’t have to worry about the product affecting you when it’s sprayed because it goes exactly where it’s intended.

How safe is Pepper-Spray infographic

Of course, it’s illegal for a civilian to use police grade pepper spray. It’s important to make sure that you are not purchasing this grade of pepper spray if you are purchasing it online. Many times this level of spray or other similar products (such as mace or tear gas which are also illegal for civilian use in most states) will be labeled for police use only however, it may not be.

There are reasons that these products are used only by the police and that’s because they are much more concentrated and can be more dangerous if used improperly.

The proper way to use pepper spray

Using pepper spray properly is extremely important. If you use it properly you’re going to get the benefits that you need (if you’re unlucky enough to have to use the product at all). If you aren’t using it properly you could find yourself in danger and if you’re in a situation where you need to use pepper spray you definitely don’t want to end up in even more danger.

By understanding the rules and the ways that pepper spray can be used you’ll be able to keep yourself feeling more confident no matter where you go. Pepper spray is often available in a small tube that attaches directly to your keying. This is great because it allows you to easily hold the pepper spray while you are walking to and from your destination, no matter how far you have to travel.

The spray is also small enough that it will easily fit inside a purse or bag if you need to store it once you get where you’re going. You want to make sure that you can easily use it and store it after all. Make sure you don’t get anything too large or it may be awkward to use.

Small Pepper Spray

Typical pepper spray will have some type of safety device so that you can carry it easily without worrying about spraying it unintentionally. Make sure you know where the safety is and how you can easily turn it off. When you’re walking somewhere you want to make sure you have the safety off and that you hold your pepper spray in a way that will make it very easy to spray at a moment’s notice (or without a moment’s notice).

Make sure the safety is back on again before you store your spray so you don’t end up wasting it. Make sure you know exactly how to use your spray. There should be a single trigger that provides you with a steady stream of spray when you are ready to use it. With many keychain products you’ll have a trigger on the top though some may have a trigger on the front in the same way as a room spray.

Make sure you know how the spray works before you ever have a situation where you may need to use it. You will want to make sure you carry your spray at your side (you don’t want to freak out people who are walking near you and think you’re going to spray them for no reason) but make sure your finger is on the trigger and you’re ready to react immediately.

If someone poses a threat to you bring your arm up in a smooth motion and press the trigger as soon as you are in front of their face. You want to press the button down entirely and this will release a steady stream. This will affect them immediately because of the way capsaicin works on the body. Even those rare people who are incapable of feeling pain will experience the watery eyes and burning that go along with this product no matter what. This provides you with enough time to get away from the situation.

Using Pepper Spray

Typically, pepper spray is effective at a distance of 12 feet or less though the further away your offender is the less likely that the spray will actually reach them or affect them enough to slow them down. Keep in mind also that the wind or air pressure in the area is going to affect where the pepper spray goes. If there is wind the pepper spray will be blown away by that wind and you will have less effect on your offender.

[the_ad_placement id=”in-text-3-type-r”]

An important consideration is that the pepper spray, as a mist, is also going to spread out in all directions from where it is sprayed. This means that you may end up with pepper spray in your face as well. Be prepared for this and know what you are going to do after spraying so that you don’t actually have to see to get away. This will help you be prepared even if you end up with pepper spray in your eyes and are fighting the effects yourself.

In conclusion

Using pepper spray is definitely a way to protect yourself, your family or your children. Pepper spray will help you stay safe if someone has less than honorable intentions toward you. Make sure that you are prepared no matter where you go.

Pepper spray is definitely one of the cheapest and easiest to use safety tools and it’s one of the safest ones to have around children too. It can cause harm, but the harm that can be done with pepper spray (when used incorrectly) is not deadly and will go away (usually without medical attention though not always with smaller children).

Find out how you can make your own pepper spray. Check out our article on the this DIY pepper spray project.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If the information in this post has been helpful, please consider purchasing through one of the links in this article. Thank you.

About the author

David Dawson

David Dawson is a retired security specialist with over 20 years of experience. He worked for a secret manufacturing facilities and hospitals in Illinois. David's responsibility was to protect people in case of any disaster or cataclysm that might occur. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and survive flood, earthquake or even war.


  • You’re right in that pepper spray can likewise be utilized against you. Your particular body and energy can be used against you by somebody prepared (or by anyone who has a simple comprehension of martial art). Pepper spray is most likely more expected and foreseen than whatever another type of safeguard since it’s broadly accessible and can be utilized from a few steps away. Besides, pepper spray, similar to a blade, would need to as of now be in your grasp to be of any utilization, as well.

  • A pepper spray is considered a weapon, so I am not really comfortable with people having them for fun while walking on the streets. They can be either get sprayed accidentally or cause damage to other people unintentionally. I’ve seen an incident on tv, where a shoplifter uses her pepper spray and end up hitting a passerby parents and their baby.

    Anyway, if you got involved or became a victim of pepper spray incidents, you should apply milk immediately to remove the burning sensation (water is just not enough), rinse the affected area with dish detergent and water, and use a saline solution.

  • Pepper spray is just always with me. But buying or making one is one thing, and the actual usage another. I believe self-defense tools should always be available, but people should be educated on how to use them too.
    Is it legal to carry a pepper spray though?

Leave a Comment