Does Pepper Spray Work? 10 Common Questions Answered

04 02 2020

Personal safety is exactly that — personal. You have to decide what’s appropriate for your environment and what you’re comfortable with carrying and using to defend yourself.

To help you decide whether Pepper Spray is the right self-defense option for you, the experts at SABRE have answered 10 of your most pressing questions about pepper spray effectiveness, legality and usage.

1. Does Pepper Spray Work?hand holding sabre stun gun

If deployed correctly, then yes, pepper spray can work to deter and protect against an attack. As with any self-defense tool or strategy — including stun guns — knowing how to use pepper spray and having a back-up plan raise your odds of defending against an attack. One of the main benefits of pepper spray is that it does not rely on pain to incapacitate and take effect on attackers. The physical reactions an assailant has to pepper spray can give you precious moments to get away to safety.

2. What, Exactly, Is Pepper Spray?

The truth is that SABRE controls and guarantees formula strength. Our exclusive High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) Guarantee means our pepper sprays never fail due to inconsistent heat levels. No other brand can make the same claim.The main component in SABRE pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum, or OC, and it's vital that the potency is accurately tested. Discover how to ensure that your pepper spray won't let you down when you need it!

3. How Does Pepper Spray Affect a Person?

The oil in pepper spray acts as an irritant on the respiratory system, eyes and nose. Upon contact, the trachea swells and mucous membranes produce lots of phlegm, causing difficulty breathing and a reaction of coughing and gagging. Eyes will water and often involuntarily close from the burning sensation of pepper spray.

4. Is It Legal to Use Pepper Spray?

Yes, pepper spray is legal to carry in all 50 of the United States. However, some states regulate canister size, ingredients and how or where you may purchase pepper spray. Before you buy, learn about your state’s regulations. Internationally, there may be additional country-specific considerations to weigh overseas.

5. Will Pepper Spray Stop an Attacker?

Pepper spray is designed to give you time to get away from the attacker. Pepper sprays deliver a concentrated burst of capsaicin, the chemical found in peppers that give them their heat. When it comes in contact with mucous membranes — including the eyes, nose or throat — it triggers an instantaneous inflammatory response. Along with intense pain, the eyes may swell shut. The combined effects can incapacitate a person for up to several minutes, giving you the time you need to get away from harm. Criminals know that the element of surprise is their best ally, so they look for opportunities when you’re distracted, weighed down with packages or otherwise unprepared. Your best bet for an effective defense with pepper spray is to practice using it and have a backup plan, like learning basic self-defense techniques.

6. Is Pepper Spray Effective Against Animal Attacks?

Whether you’re running in a city park, hiking a nature trail or camping in the wild, encountering an aggressive animal can be scary. Pepper spray that is specifically formulated for bears can effectively stop them at a range of up to 35 feet. Dog sprays are also highly effective yet humane, offering safe protection for you and your own pet while stopping an aggressive attacking animal.

7. How Easy Is It to Use Pepper Spray in an Attack?

practice canisters for pepper spray keychains

When someone is attacking you, your stress level typically goes through the roof. Victims of assault often report freezing up, panicking or blacking out. That means no matter how easy a canister of pepper spray is to operate when you’re calm and at ease, deploying it in an emergency situation will be more difficult. Your odds of success with a pepper spray self-defense are better if you practice with the canister ahead of time, use it as a diversionary tactic to get away and have a second means of protection, like knowing some physical self-defense techniques.

8. Will Pepper Spray Affect Me When I Spray an Attacker?

Depending on the area the attack takes place in, how well you aim the canister and whether you’re using pepper spray or gel, pepper spray could potentially affect both you and the attacker. It’s important to understand that traditional pepper spray may dissipate in the air, so it’s best to make sure you’re up wind when you deploy it. Another option is to use a pepper gel, which is a great option for indoor or in windy situations. Unlike pepper spray, pepper gel is dispensed as a thick, sticky substance that will stick to an attacker’s skin but won't atomize like traditional pepper spray. Because it is thicker than liquid pepper sprays, pepper gel cannot be blown back into your face, making pepper gel a good choice for defending yourself outside and in close quarters.

8. Will Pepper Spray Affect Me When I Spray an Attacker?

Depending on the area the attack takes place in, how well you aim the canister and whether you’re using pepper spray or gel, pepper spray could potentially affect both you and the attacker. It’s important to understand that traditional pepper spray may dissipate in the air, so it’s best to make sure you’re up wind when you deploy it. Another option is to use a pepper gel, which is a great option for indoor or in windy situations. Unlike pepper spray, pepper gel is dispensed as a thick, sticky substance that will stick to an attacker’s skin but won't atomize like traditional pepper spray. Because it is thicker than liquid pepper sprays, pepper gel cannot be blown back into your face, making pepper gel a good choice for defending yourself outside and in close quarters.

9. What’s the Best Back-Up for Pepper Spray?

Some pepper sprays may not be legal internationally, so it’s important to take specific safety measures. As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Taking a self-defense class puts you in control of your safety by empowering you with options. When you know how to identify potentially dangerous situations, keep distance between yourself and danger, and effectively use pepper sprays, stun guns and personal alarms, you have not just one plan but a variety of back-up strategies for keeping yourself safe.

10. How Do I Clean Pepper Spray Off?

Once you’re safe and the attack is over, cleaning pepper spray off your clothes, skin and home interior is smart. Air out clothes before machine washing them separately with high-quality detergent. Inside your home, wear gloves, eye protection and a mask or other covering over your mouth and nose. Use oil-free soap, like dish detergent, to scrub walls, carpets and furniture, then rinse with cool water.