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When you only have a fraction of a moment to defend yourself from an attacker, you want to be certain that the personal defense product you use will be strong enough to protect you. If you carry pepper spray, be sure that you have the most potent pepper spray you can get. Do your homework — it can be difficult for those shopping for pepper spray to determine which product is the most powerful. That’s because different manufacturers use different ways to describe the strength of their products, and some of them can be misleading. With that in mind, here are a few things you should know to help you find the strongest pepper spray available.
What is OC Percentage?
“OC” stands for oleoresin capsicum, a pepper spray ingredient derived from chili peppers. Some pepper spray brands tout their OC percentage, claiming anywhere from 2 percent to 20 percent. Although a higher OC percentage may sound like a stronger spray, this isn’t necessarily true. That’s because OC percentage only indicates the amount of pepper in the formula, not the strength of the formula. If a formula uses a weaker pepper, it won’t matter how much of it is in the formula. An attacker may be able to ignore the effects of a weaker formula, resulting in disaster for the victim.
Do Scoville Heat Units Matter?
Anyone familiar with hot sauce knows about Scoville Heat Units (SHU), which measure the amount of heat you experience when tasting the sauce. Some pepper spray manufacturers advertise the SHUs of their sprays, and you may be led to believe that a spray said to have SHUs in the millions will be more effective. However, this also can be misleading because SHUs may only refer to the raw pepper used in the formulation. Diluted into spray form, the SHUs may actually be much lower than advertised. What’s more, if you know anything about hot sauces you’ll know that what’s way too hot for one person is just right for someone else. SHUs can help you figure out what’s right for saucing your chicken wings, but it’s not the best way to choose a self-defense product.
So, What Should You Look For?
The truest indicator of how strong a pepper spray is can be found in the spray’s major capsaicinoids (MC) rating. Unlike other ratings, MC measures the amount of the heat-bearing and pain-producing components of the formula. For reference, pepper sprays meant to ward off bear attacks typically have MC ratings of 1 to 2 percent, so a self-defense pepper spray within that range should be sufficient to cause human attackers enough pain to stop them in their tracks.
Choosing the most powerful pepper spray on the market is important because mere seconds may be all you have to protect yourself. Finding the most effective spray can be confusing, but if you know what you’re looking for and understand the labels, you can arm yourself with the most potent spray available to you.