Defense Against Crime


How To Select an Effective OC Pepper Spray?

Ever since the early 1990′s defense sprays such as Tear gas and pepper spray have gained popularity among law-abiding citizens and even criminals. Prior to this, these sprays have been used for decades by law enforcement agencies and military types for crowd control and criminal apprehension. These products are still in use by these agencies. In fact, the next time you encounter a police officer or a mail carrier – ask them why they carry pepper spray. You have probably seen in the news where law enforcement officers have used pepper spray for crowd control. These people depend on this proven product for their protection because they work.

OC Pepper spray uses a derivative of one of the most powerful caustic peppers in the world – the cayenne pepper. The basic ingredient is oleoresin capsicum or OC as it is called.  It is an inflammatory agent which does some nasty non-lethal things to the person on the receiving end of the pepper spray, pepper gel or foam. Because of the known effectiveness of pepper spray, how can you know that the pepper sprays your thinking to buy is any good?

Does the percentage matters?

I did a quick search of the internet and you can see OC Pepper spray comes in different Pepper-Spray-for-Security-of-Womenformulations. You can find concentrations from 1% to about 23%. There are a number of differences in the formulations and delivery systems. The percentage of active ingredient (OC) is not a good indication of how effective it is. For example, a 1% solution can be just as effective as a 10% concentration or more so. However, for most spray formulations, the higher the percentage of OC, the better the spray should work on your attacker. But few sprays are alike, much less equal, like colas.

There are THREE formulation factors for OC Pepper Spray that when combined are used to determine how effective a spray is – they are as follows:

  • The Heat Rating of the OC
  • Type of Carrier Agent
  • The Spray density

Scoville Heat Units

The heat-generating capacity of OC is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). This ScovilleScaleOfPepperHeatmeasurement scale was derived by Wilbur Scoville, a chemist. OC is derived from a variety of hot peppers such as cayenne. Peppers range from zero SHO for standard bell peppers, to 5,000 for jalapeno pepper, and up to 1,463,700 SHU for Trinidad Scorpion pepper. The pungency (or heat factor) of chile peppers is measured in multiples of 100 units. One part of chile “heat” per 1,000,000 drops of water is rated at only 1.5 Scoville Units. Pure Capsaicin, the substance that makes the peppers hot, rates between 15,000,000 and 16,000,000 Scoville Units! Today more scientific and accurate methods like Electrochemistry and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) are used to determine capsaicin levels.

Depending on what kind of pepper is used affects the effectiveness of the spray. A 10% concentration of jalapeno pepper is not going to be nearly as effective as a 1 percent concentration of Dorset Naga peppers. In actual spray formulations, OC from the peppers is processed as mentioned above until it reached a heat rating as high as 2 million SHU. When you purchase pepper spray, don’t look at the concentration, look for how many SHU it generated.

Most pepper spray is stored in a pressurized canister. Each manufacturer keeps its actual formulation for carrier/OC confidential. However, some common carriers are alcohol, keton, a DuPont chemical called Dymel-22, other solvents, and oils and water.

Certified Heat Rating

If you go on the internet, you can find all kinds of claims of companies having “THE Pepper Spray Heat SealBEST” Pepper spray or the “HOTTEST.” We recommend you consider the unbiased results of an independent laboratory* that tests the heat of the pepper once it is sprayed out of the can. The Carrier Agent and Spray Density can affect the actual result of the effectiveness of the Pepper Spray. This Certified Heat Rating (CHR) measures how hot the pepper spray will be once it hits your attacker. The only true way to know the actual effectiveness of a pepper spray is to have it tested by an independent laboratory or by the testimonials of people who have used it. Check the Pepper Spray to see if it has a Certified Heat rating.   What this will tell you is HOW hot the pepper spray is when it comes out of the cannister at the attacker, rather than how hot it was before it was put into the canister.

Other Pepper Spray selection factors to consider

  • Expiration date-The spray’s potency decreases after a certain number of years and shouldn’t be used after the expiration date.  Once it has expired, use the unit to practice using pepper spray in a safe uninhabited place.
  • The number of shots-Pepper sprays have a predetermined number of shots. Keep track or you may find yourself running low at the worst time possible.  We had advice emptying the canister on your attacker and not try to preserve any for the next time.
  • Safety switch– A safety switch will prevent the spray from accidentally going off, which is helpful if you have kids who like to play with things they shouldn’t. Be mindful of this switch at all times.





Onyx Knight Enterprises is dedicated to providing you useful and informative data to meet the security needs of you, your family members or your business, by assisting anyone who is unwilling to become a victim of crime.  In today’s society, being equipped mentally and physically is no longer an option. – Victor Swindell


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