|Carrying a personal self defense spray can
help you escape an attacker by distracting
or briefly incapacitating him. Sprays come
in several types depending on the underlying
- OC-based ("Pepper spray") - Products
in this category (made from Oleoresin Capsicum,
derived chile-type peppers) produce a severe
burning sensation in the attacker's eyes,
throat, and nostrils. This is the most powerful
defense spray, and though typically used
only by police, in milder forms it is available
to the public. OC-spray is an inflammatory
agent and goes to work immediately on contact,
debilitating the attacker.
- CS-based (Ortho-chloro-benzalmalonitrile)
spray is from the manmade "tear gas"
family. It is more readily dispersed from
a cannister in riot situations, is not an
inflammatory but an irritant and therefore
usually is not as good of a personal defense
weapon as OC-spray.
- CN-based (alpha-chloroacetaphenone) spray
is from a gas. It acts as an irritant and
in most formulations is the least effective
as a personal defense weapon because, like
CS-spray, it can take up to 30 seconds to
react, and drunks or people on drugs who
are feeling no pain seem impervious to it.
Choosing a spray
The most popular choice is an OC-based pepper
spray. These come in formulations of 5%,
10%, 15% and up. A 10% spray is common, potent
enough to stop an attacker and make him drop
to his knees. High concentrations (20%) are
only for stopping wild animals like bears.
The size and style of the dispensing
are important. Look for a spray
- shoots a stream rather than a mist; although
they require you to aim for the face, it
reduces the likelihood of spraying yourself.
- can shoot a stream far enough to get an attacker
before he gets too close
- has enough capacity to be used several times
in case there are multiple attackers or you
- is in a convenient dispenser so you are not
annoyed toting it with you
go. Keyring dispensers are
Finally, keep in mind that defense sprays
have the drawback that the attacker can take
the spray away from you and use it on you.