Almost all the self-defense sprays available today are a pepper spray, but some have mace, tear gas or dye added. So the decision to select a pepper spray depends on how and where you plan to use it.
The primary ingredient in pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicums (OC). Manufactures will add from 1% to 10% of OC to their spray. This is one of the first decisions to make in selecting a spray. The amount of OC affects the use of the spray, more than the effectiveness of the spray. Very heavy concentrations of OC do not seem to work as fast as lesser concentrates do. Generally a spray with 2 to 5% OC is the most effective.
The Heat Unit Rating or “burn” is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). For years individual companies have posted their own SHU values which usually were in the millions of units. Recently an independent laboratory did testing and came up with more realistic figures. With all that said it doesn’t matter if the individual rating is in thousands or millions. What matters is how it compares to others. This brings up the question why would you want the hottest self-defense spray available? Using the hottest gives the most punishment and longest affect to your attacker. However some of the lesser SHU rated pepper sprays have other specific uses.
Below you will find independent laboratory testing results from CHROMTEC, LLC:
Wildfire - 18% The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 242,000
Streetwise 23 - The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 216,700
Guard Dog - The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 174,200
Streetwise 18 - The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 162,400
Crime Halter - The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 158,900
Pepper Shot - The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 122,000
PSP (Eliminator) - The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 118,300
Sabre - The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 91,500.
Cheetah - The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 87,000
Fox Labs - The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on this assay calculates to 84,000
Distance that the spray is effective is very important in you decision as to which product should you buy. A key chain or pocket-size model is usually effective from 8 to 15 feet. A larger canister will provide up to 22 feet with many more 1 to 2 second shots. A pepper spray gun is effective up to 25 feet and has a laser pointer to put you on the target at that distance. That does not mean that the only good unit is a pepper gun. The key chain or pocket models are very easy to carry in any situation and works extremely well in close quarters or around groups of people. You certainly don’t want to spray the wrong person.
Pepper spray can be purchased in a stream, fog or gel pattern. The most common is the stream which is directed to the eyes of the assailant. In windy conditions such as a boat or outdoors the gel is not effected by wind as much as a stream and will work up to 18 feet. Also if your attacker reaches up to wipe his eyes he will just spread the gel around making the effect worse. A fog is used in two different situations. The first situation is crowd control, when you need the pepper spray to affect several people. The second is for animal control. If you are in an area with a bear of angry dog, you don’t want to try to get closer and spray them in the eye. With an animal’s very sensitive nose, a fog of pepper spray will send them away when they enter the fogged area.
Now the first rule of self-defense is to disable and get away to safety. Once you use a self-defense spray, do not hang around to see how effective it is. Escape to the safety, and if possible summons the police. This brings up another feature of some sprays. There are triple-action sprays that contain OC pepper, CN tear gas and UV dye marker. The OC pepper causes the eyes to slam shut and the victim to have uncontrollable choking, while the CN tear gas causes profuse tearing and burning sensation on the face. If the police apprehend a suspect they can use a black light to see the UV dye for proof.
The best feature of a self-defense spray is that it is non-lethal and you should have no hesitation to use this means of self-defense. Remember the 3 R’s, Recognition, Reaction and Run, and you will not be a victim.
Doug Harper is the owner of SharperSafety.com