Pepper spray is of the most popular non-lethal self-defense weapons available and is carried by law enforcement officers as well as civilians. Some people who will not carry a gun for protection may carry pepper spray in one form or another. It is also easier for people in some states to obtain pepper spray than it is for them to obtain a firearm.
No matter what you choose to carry for self-protection, it is your responsibility to know the laws where you live and where you travel.
Pepper spray is made from a chemical derivative of very hot peppers known as oleoresin capsicum which is how it got its name. Pepper spray causes severe pain and burning when it comes into contact with skin and can last as long as 45 minutes.
There are several different types of pepper spray on the market with each having its own advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the difference can help you decide the type which will work best for you. Some of the points to consider are the effective range, how much it is effected by the environment such as smaller indoor rooms and windy outdoor conditions.
- Pepper spray foggers have a range of 4-8 feet when sprayed and are great because of the spraying distance. A disadvantage is that they are not very effective under windy conditions and may blow back in your direction.
- Stream type pepper sprays are very effective up to 15-20 feet, depending on the size of the canister and the amount of propellant. It is also effective under windy conditions because it sprays with a higher force, not droplets like the fogger type and is less likely to blow back in your direction. One disadvantage is that you risk inhaling it yourself or getting splashed if you use pepper spray streams in an indoor setting.
- Pepper spray gel and pepper spray foams are perfect for spraying in close quarters and can cover up to 25 feet for the gel and 6 to 8 feet for the foam. The big advantage is that there is little risk of splatter with pepper spray gel and it sticks to your attacker when it makes contact.
No matter the type of defensive weapon you choose to carry to protect yourself, you need to practice and become proficient with it. Carrying it without knowing how to use it puts you at great risk if something were to happen.
It is also important to understand that a defensive weapon is only one element in self-defense.