All The Technical Details Of The Pepper Spray That You Must Know

Posted by yashi ganguly on March 23rd, 2018

Pepper Spray is a highly recommended self-defense product for women but not many people know about its technical details. Though it is a simple and effective self-defense product its making is rather complex and based on solid research and years of testing and development.

Pepper spray which is also known as capsicum spray is a lachrymatory agent, a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness. Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision. This temporary blindness makes the attacker ineffective and so he can be easily overpowered and if it is a woman who is using it, then she gets the time to run away from the scene. Pepper Spray has been in use in policing, riot control, crowd control for quite some time now but its use as self-defense product for women is its rather new avatar.

Why it is such a hit with the security forces is that it is non-lethal and does not leave a permanent injury like loss of vision or permanent injury to issues. To put it simply in layman’s language it is chili powder sprayed on an attacker who would be extremely discomforting able for some time but would recover after sometime completely.

 However it is considered a less-than-lethal agent, but it has been deadly in rare cases, especially in those cases where the victim had some prior health condition such as asthma or chronic heart ailment. But not to worry, because there is no chance that a person suffering from asthma or heart ailment would attack a woman. The point here is that a woman can use it without having to bother about its effects. For this reason, most governments allow its sale and use without a license.

The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, including chilies. Extraction of oleoresin capsicum (OC) from peppers requires capsicum to be finely ground, from which capsaicin is then extracted using an organic solvent such as ethanol. The solvent is then made to evaporate and the remaining waxlike resin is the oleoresin capsicum.

But this is not all, since it has to be made into a spray-able concoction it is mixed with an emulsifier such as propylene glycol to suspend OC in water, and then pressurized to make it aerosol in pepper spray. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is used to measure the amount of capsaicin and major capsaicinoids within pepper sprays.

One very important aspect of pepper spray is its strength or the concentration but determining the strength of different pepper sprays can be difficult.   A method using the capsaicin and related capsaicinoids (CRC) content of the product is unreliable, because there are six different types of capsaicinoids, causing different levels of irritation. Manufacturers do not state which particular type of capsaicinoids is used but some governments around the world have specified the maximum concentration.

 Personal pepper sprays can range from a low of 0.18% to a high of 3%. Most law enforcement pepper sprays use between 1.3% and 2%.  In the United States of America, deterrent sprays must contain at least 1.0% and not more than 2% CRC. CRC does not measure the amount of OC within the formulation. Instead, CRC is the pain-producing component of the OC that produces the burning sensation. In India, there is no such regulation but most pepper spray manufacturers comply with the international standards.

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yashi ganguly

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yashi ganguly
Joined: June 17th, 2017
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