Department of Self Defense

How Does Pepper Spray Work? How Does Mace Work?

Pepper Spray Overview

Dating back to the use of cayenne pepper in ancient China and Japan, Pepper Spray is one of the oldest self defense products still in use today. At least with pepper spray, not much has changed since ancient China. Modern day pepper spray is made from a mix of filtered water and Oleoresin Capsicum (“OC”). OC is natural substance that gives hot peppers and chilies their heat. Pepper Spray is a low cost, non-lethal, and easy to use option. This is a time tested product used by Police, Security Professionals, and civilians.

When sprayed in the face or inhaled, the heat causes the skin, eyes, and nose to burn as the body reacts to the spray. This includes the closing and watering of the eyes and difficulty breathing and coughing. This reaction can last anywhere from 15-45 minutes depending on the strength of the spray. This can mean the difference between life and death in the case of an attack.

Choosing the Right Pepper Spray
The effect of pepper spray depends on the strength of the formula. Formulas differ in the grade and percentage of OC used. To compare different products, the strength of pepper spray is rated based on the Scoville scale. The same scale used to compare peppers and chilies, the Scoville scale tests the heat of the pepper spray when it makes contact with an attacker.

Most hot sauces range from 1,000-2,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Most pepper sprays range from 100,000 to 250,000 SHU. Sprays above 100,000 SHU will give you time to escape and seek help. Sprays with a lower SHU may need more spray to get a reaction. Higher SHU sprays may only need to be sprayed in the area of an attacker to be just as effective. Choosing the right spray is a decision between SHU ratings and finding a spray that meets your specific needs.

  • Choosing a pepper spray that will be easy and comfortable to use:
    • Most sprays come with safety features that will keep the spray from accidentally discharging. Choose a spray with a safety feature that keeps the unit easy to use in an emergency.
  • Find a pepper spray that is easy to carry and will meet your self defense needs:
    • Pepper spray packs a big punch in a small container that can be carried in a variety of ways including keychains, belt clips, or leather holsters. 
  • Choosing between a stream, fog, or foam:
    • Stream and foam will put the most spray directly on an attacker but require accuracy. A fog can be effective even if inaccurate but can require a stronger SHU rating to stop an attacker.

The Department of Self Defense team has worked with our suppliers to provide the highest quality pepper spray and Mace products at the best prices. Our Company is an authorized dealer for all brands we sell in the Pepper Spray, MaceWomen's Pepper Spray, and Bear Spray and Animal Repellent categories. Our goal is be your trusted source of high quality self-defense products you can rely on to keep you and your family safe.

Department of Self Defense offers a 90 day warranty on all items sold. Additionally, through our Live to Fight Another Day Policy, we will replace any item purchased through us if lost or damaged while used in a self defense situation. Your safety is more important to us than the cost of a replacement product. It's that simple.

Please shop with confidence and do not hesitate to Contact Us with any questions you may have. 

Our customer service team is here to help you with any product questions.
 Please call us at (949) 427-8889 from 9am to 5pm, Pacific.