Various types of pepper spray and Mace compared – Out of all the non-lethal weapons that are available today, pepper spray is probably the most well-known and popular of them all. It contains oleoresin capsicum, so it is often referred to as OC gas or capsicum spray. Although people use the term “mace” interchangeably with the term “pepper spray,” mace refers to the Mace brand. Mace is the most recognizable brand, but there are plenty of generic options as well.
Pepper spray is a lachrymatory agent, which means that it irritates the eyes and causes pain, tears and temporary blindness. Its primary active ingredient, capsaicin, is derived from capsicum. Capsicum is found in plants like chili peppers.
Capsaicin is extracted from plants like chili peppers with special solvents and evaporated. Before being put into a canister, the evaporated solvent is treated with an emulsifier that suspends the OC in liquid. From there, the contents are pressurized. Pepper spray canisters work just like other aerosol cans. When the button is pressed, the pressurized contents stream out rapidly.
How it Works – The nice thing about pepper spray is that all you have to do is press the button and aim the canister in the appropriate direction. The contents of the spray do the rest of the work for you. Capsaicin is highly irritable to the sensitive tissues of the eyes.
The primary thing that needs to be kept in mind, then, is that the canister must be aimed at a person’s face in order for it to be as effective as possible. Once the spray makes contact with the skin, there is nothing the recipient can do. Attempting to rub away the spray generally makes things worse.
The legality and effectiveness of pepper spray
Pepper spray is highly effective at immobilizing people. Its effects are immediate. As soon as the pepper spray hits a person’s face, the eyes immediately experience inflammatory effects. As a result, a person’s eyes usually swell shut, which renders them temporarily blind. Coughing, runny noses and difficulty breathing often ensue as well. People who have been sprayed with pepper spray say that it feels as if their eyes are bubbling over or are on fire. The duration of these effects depends on the strength of the pepper spray that is used. In general, however, these effects typically last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.
As far as legality goes, laws vary from one state to the next. Some states have limits on the concentration of capsaicin that is permitted in pepper sprays that are used by civilians. In Massachusetts, you can only purchase mace or pepper spray from licensed firearm’s dealers.
In New Jersey, felons are not permitted to purchase pepper spray, so background checks are performed prior to purchase. In most states, you have to be over the age of 18 to buy pepper spray. It is important to check the laws of your state before carrying pepper spray or keeping it in the home.