Guide to Picking the Best Pepper Spray

Key factors in determining the best pepper spray for civilians for general purposes are as follows.

1) Size and portability: Keychain-sized

We recommend the keychain pepper spray that you can have on you at all times. Yes the bigger pepper sprays pack more power and volume. However, what good are they if you do not have it on you when you need it the most? Keychain pepper spray all but guarantees that you will have it on you at all times.

2) Correct type: Cone

There are many types of pepper sprays in the market and they exist to accommodate various types of scenarios.

a) Cone / Fogger
b) Stream
c) Gel
d) Foam

We recommend the ‘Cone’ pepper spray. You can read why here [link-article:why cone is superior to other types of pepper spray]

3) Strength: 1% Major Capsacinoids or higher

SHU (Scoville Heat Unit) and OH (Oleoresin Capsicum) are the most commonly used by pepper spray companies to claim the strength of their products. Do not fall for it. These number mean very little when it comes to the actual ‘strength’ of the product itself. Here is why [link-article: pepper spray strength]

The most important number to look at is the Major Capsacinoids concentration when looking for the strongest pepper spray. 1% or higher is what EPA regulates for bear spray. If it’s good enough for 600 pound grizzly bear, then you can deduce that it is good enough to use against humans (and other mammals like aggressive dogs).

4) Other factors to consider
– Distance
– # of shots

Fox Labs Key Chain Pepper Spray


Product Description


Working odd hours can pose a real threat to your safety during daily commute. Consider Fox Lab Pepper Spray as peace of mind that you can carry around in a key chain. It is the hottest pepper spray formulation available that ensures maximum effect. You can carry these 11 gram canisters with or without the Key Chain Release units, which means they can easily be concealed in your uniform or your key ring for easier access.



  • Small and lightweight
  • Can be use with or without the key chain release units
  • Proven to effectively stop an attack on its tracks
  • Made of good quality and durable materials
  • Prevents accidental discharge with a locking thumb switch



  • A direct hit is needed to ensure that the product works on the attacker
  • Runs dry after a second or so of pressing the release button
  • Prone to accidental discharge due to the weak trigger safety
  • The absence of brand labels on the product makes authenticity questionable

Fox Labs Mean Green Pepper Spray


Product Description


If your job requires walking through dark parking lots and alleyways in the middle of night, investing in a good quality pepper spray is a must. Fox Labs Mean-Green 15 Gram 6% H2OC Twist Top Key Chain Splatter Stream Pepper Spray provides protection like no other. Its stream spray pattern projects eight to ten feet, so you can stop the attacker at a safe distance. You’ll get ten to twelve half second bursts of spray to in this neat canister leaving room to practice your aim before hitting your target.



  • Very potent formula
  • Easy to carry 15 gram spray
  • The lockable rotating thumb switch glows in the dark
  • Has a shelf life of three years
  • Has a durable case that features a pocket clip and key ring



  • The packaging and product do not have any brand label
  • The expiration date is not printed on product
  • Comes in poor packaging
  • Does not include directions for using the spray
  • Does not look as advertised

Kimber Pepper Blaster II

Product Description


With attacks on professionals becoming more common, one has to be one hundred percent on guard at all times. The Kimber Pepper Blaster II is not your ordinary pepper spray. It has a unique ergonomic pistol grip that helps you aim at the assailant accurately. The exceptionally potent OC mixture leaves the assailant incapacitated for up to 45 minutes. If you miss the target, a reserve shot is available to get the job done.


  • Proven to leave the assailant incapacitated for at least 30 minutes
  • The design is ergonomic and points naturally
  • Proven to reach target at five to eight feet
  • Has a compact design
  • A good alternative to bringing firearms


  • Might fail to fire when needed
  • Shoots large globs of product that doesn’t go far
  • Actual items received by customers are of a different name and manufacturer
  • Is not reusable or reloadable
  • Discharges on its own

Sabre Red Compact Pepper Spray


Product Description


You know you can trust a product to keep you safe when it’s favored by law enforcement agencies. Sabre Red Compact Pepper Spray will make you feel safe and secure through late night commutes or while on assignment in uncharted territories. This police strength pepper spray provides protection within a 10- foot range in twenty five powerful bursts that keep the product from being blown back. The quick release key ring lets you use the spray even when your keys are in ignition or lock.



  • Compact and easy to conceal
  • Manufactured by a reputable company
  • Has a quick release button that ensures quick access to spray in case of the keys being in lock or ignition
  • Potent spray formula that works even with a slight quick tap of the release button
  • Proven to incapacitate the assailant for 15 to 20 minutes


  • The trigger tab does not stay in place which can cause accidental discharge
  • Some units have discharged only a small amount of product and failed to incapacitate the assailant
  • It takes a lot of pressure on the release button for the spray to work
  • Has the tendency to leak while inside the pocket, which can cause a burning sensation on the skin
  • The quick release key ring have caused some units to accidental detach

UDAP Jogger Fogger Pepper Spray


Product Description


The best pepper spray is the one you have with you. This life saving product can be worn on a belt or strapped at the back of your hand for easier access. Carrying a UDAP Jogger Fogger Pepper Spray gives you the confidence and feeling of safety anywhere at any time. It uses the most potent EPA-approved formula that you can trust to render the assailant incapacitated. You need not worry about getting too close to the assailant because it works at the maximum range of approximately ten feet.



  • Gets the job done effectively and immediately
  • Proven to work on attacking animals such as dogs
  • Proven to shoot up to 12 feet
  • Tested to work on the assailant for about 30 minutes
  • Great for runners because it can be strapped at the back of the hand



  • Incorrectly described as 19 ounces
  • The band is elastic and feels comfortable on the hand
  • Can be operated with the thumb when strapped in

UDAP Commander Pepper Spray

Product Description


You’ll never know when an attacker is lurking in a dark street or parking lot. UDAP Commander Pepper Spray is the best protection you can get in dangerous situations. Safety and quality tests prove that it works even in the toughest environments. It comes with a hand strap to ensure that you have it handy when you need it.



  • Proven to be effective with attacking animals such as dogs
  • Very easy to carry using the hand strap or hanging from a belt loop
  • The safety lid reduces the chance of accidentally releasing the product
  • Uses the same level of capsaisinoid as a bear repellent
  • Has shelf life of 5 years



  • A little large to put in a pocket

What is Pepper Spray Made Out Of?

Pepper spray is an effective self-defense tool because it causes extreme irritation to the eyes resulting in temporary blindness, which allows the user to escape from an attacker. The chemical compound in pepper spray that causes inflammation is oleoresin capsicum, which is why they are often referred to as OC sprays. OC is a naturally-occurring substance extracted from chili peppers.

What is Oleoresin Capsicum?

Capsicum plants, which are native to the Americas, are considered to be in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Nightshades contain alkaloids, which can affect the nervous, muscular and digestive systems of animals and humans. Chili peppers are the fruit of the capsicum plants. The process of making the product for OC sprays involves drying and grinding the pepper into a fine powder and extracting the capsaicin in a solvent. When the solvent evaporates, the remaining oily resin is known as the oleoresin capsicum. It is then pressurized and made into an aerosol spray.

What is Capsaicin?

capsaicin from chilliThe active component in chile peppers that causes irritation, known as capsaicin, likely developed as a protective mechanism against some mammals and fungi. Capsaicin is found in the white inner flesh of chili peppers adjacent to the seeds. Despite being odorless, colorless, and flavorless, even a small amount of pure capsaicin can cause an extreme burning sensation.

Capsaicin is used in many cuisines to give food a hot flavor. The burning sensation when eating spicy enchiladas is the same irritation experienced from pepper sprays. The OC sprays contain a concentration that temporarily incapacitates an assailant, but wears off within 15 minutes to a half hour and does not cause permanent bodily damage.

OC Spray Containers

Most pepper sprays are sold in aerosol canisters. The OC is mixed with a solution that is either oil or water-based. Because the oil needs to be deployed outward, the solution is also mixed with a propellant and then pressurized.

Pepper sprays come in four common varieties, stream, cone, foam and gel, which contain various formulas and allow for different spray patterns and uses. There are pros and cons to these varieties, depending on the user’s level of training, weather, the number of attackers and other conditions surrounding the attack.

These sprays also have different types of dispensers, typically a flip-top and a twist lock, which prevent accidental deployment of the material. The flip-top style is simple to use because you can easily see the direction it will deploy. This type of dispenser is often used by law enforcement officers. Keychain styles generally use twist-style actuators because they have a child-resistant design. However, they are more difficult to use, especially regarding orienting the nozzle in the direction of the attacker.

Because pepper sprays contain a specified amount of heat-producing material from hot chilis, they are an effective tool of self-defense, causing temporary blindness and incapacitation when the product is used properly. It is important for users to receive training in the use of pepper spray and understand how to legally possess pepper spray, as determined by state regulations.

Types of Pepper Spray Patterns: Steam, Cone, Foam & Gel

Pepper Spray is available in a variety of delivery systems, with pros and cons, depending on the user’s skill level and the self-defense situation. However, the four different types ― stream, cone, foam and gel ―all have the potential to incapacitate an assailant when the product is used properly. The result will be runny eyes leading to temporary blindness, shortness of breath, coughing and burning of the skin, giving an attack victim the opportunity to escape a threatening situation.


pepper spray stream pattern

This delivery system deploys like a squirt gun or typical bug spray. The user must handle the canister with accuracy, directing the material into the assailant’s nostrils or eyes in order to cause incapacitation. Otherwise, the effects will be slight and ineffective. However, the stream is highly visible, which offers an additional means of controlling the substance. If you miss the first time, you can aim again. Stream is an effective delivery method if there’s a single attacker or if there’s wind, because there’s less of a risk of blow-back. You can also deploy stream spray in a side to side pattern, hitting the attacker in the face and eyes as you “fan” the spray back and forth.

Stream offers the maximum range compared to other delivery systems. Research shows that pepper spray is most often used at a close range of 3 feet or less, but it’s good to have spray that functions at a longer range in the event that you need to deploy the stream from a distance. While stream delivery sprays require practice, this system can be very effective at disabling the attacker by causing extreme visual and respiratory distress.


pepper spray cone pattern

Because cone spreads out, it requires the least accuracy, and works best when deployed at close range. It resembles ordinary bathroom disinfecting spray, such as Lysol. Compared to stream it offers a wider range and works well against multiple attackers. You can create a wall of spray, enabling a quick escape. Cone delivery systems propel in a forceful pattern and doesn’t require aiming with precision. Some versions generate a fog, which can be effective, depending on the circumstances.

This material acts fast in penetrating the assailant’s eyes and lungs, and can quickly cause incapacitation. It is usually a faster method than other delivery systems on windy days, although it can affect the user, but not to the extent that it affects the assailant. This pattern is the easiest in terms of reaching the target and also disturbs the lungs and breathing. There is an increased change of penetrating your assailant with this delivery method, which is why bear spray usually comes in a cone spray.


pepper spray foam patternThis material has the consistency of whipped cream and is highly visible, which promotes ease of use. If the assailant is wearing glasses, foam initially obstructs their view. Also, it’s the best delivery system in a very small area, or through a rolled down car window because there won’t be blowback causing contamination to the user. However, it does not have the same effect on the lungs as stream or cone delivery systems.

Foam deliver was initially designed for prison use so that the enclosed space of a cell block wouldn’t become contaminated. These days, inmates have learned to quickly wipe off the foam, therefore, its use has been discontinued in some correctional facilities. It is also possible for the assailant to throw the foam back on the user. Police officers don’t like using foam because it required cleaning up, but this factor is of little concern to a crime victim.


For this pattern to have an effect on the eyes and lungs, the material must be deployed with precision. This can be a disadvantage for people who have limited experience with pepper spray deployment and is usually not recommended with those who have not had training in the use of pepper spray.

Types of Pepper Spray Delivery Mechanisms

Pepper sprays also have different styles of dispensers, such as the flip-top and twist lock, which prevent accidental deployment of the spray. The flip-top style is beneficial in a high-stress situation because you can easily see the direction it will fire, making it easy to use. Law enforcement officers often use this style of dispenser.

Keychain styles typically have twist-style actuators, which is advantageous because the dispenser is child-resistant. However, twist locks can be more difficult to orient than a flip-top design.

Also available are thumb trigger and gun grip canisters carried in a holster on the belt. They are usually larger containers that aren’t easy to conceal, and are typically used for hiking.

Whether you use a stream, cone, foam or gel delivery system, it is important to ensure that the product has at least three years of life before its expiration date. Also, avoid testing the canister. The product could slowly leak out and be rendered ineffective.

Pepper Spray Strengths

There are three different methods of determining the strength of a pepper spray and therefore its effectiveness. The heat of pepper spray is most accurately determined by its capsaicin and related capsaicinoids (CRC), which is the substance in the spray that will incapacitate an attacker. The other heat measurements are its Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a measurement of the hotness of the CRCs, and its oleoresin capsicum (OC), which is the amount of peppers in the spray.

It is important to remember that CRC and OC are not the same. CRC (sometimes referred to as major capsacinoids, or MC) is the heat measurement of the OC.

Scoville chilli heat strength chart


Capsaicin and related capsaicinoids are ingredients in pepper spray that cause inflammation, resulting in a severe burning sensation of the eyes, skin and throat. Even a small amount of this material causes blistering of the skin and is primarily contained in the white pith of the chile peppers, not the seeds. The best pepper sprays contain between 1-2 percent CRC.

The process of making the hot substance in pepper spray involves drying and grinding the peppers into a fine powder and extracting the capsaicin in an solvent. When the solvent evaporates, the remaining oily resin is known as the oleoresin capsicum or OC. The strength of pepper spray is best determined by the CRC, not the OC. The component of OC that produces the heat and pain is the CRC.


Scoville Heat Units is a measure of the hotness of the CRCs. In its pure form, capsaicin has a Scoville Heat Rating of 16,000,000. Chile peppers have a wide range of measured heat. For instance, habanero peppers measure about 325,000+ SHU’s. The naga pepper rates between 855,000 and 1,463,000, and a banana pepper has 500.

The Scoville Heat Unit was developed in 1912 by pharmacologist Wilbur Scoville. SHU refers to the OC before the addition of other ingredients of the formula. Scoville Value refers to the heat of the substance after the various elements are mixed together, sometimes referred to as “out-of-the-nozzle” heat. The pepper spray material is tested by high-performance liquid chromatography, a computerized method, to determine the heat rating.


The percentage of OC in a canister of spray is a measurement of the amount of peppers in the spray, not its strength or effectiveness. It is important to remember that the percent of OC in a spray is not the best way to determine its strength.

When determining the effectiveness of a particular brand of pepper spray, it is important to consider the three numbers, the OC, the CRC and the SHU. The pepper spray with the most strength will have a high SHU (approximately 2 million) a high CRC (1-2 percent) and a low OC (3 percent or lower). Bear deterrent sprays are mandated by the U.S. federal government to have at least 1.0% CRCs. There is no regulation of the SHU (Scoville heat units) or OC.

It is possible that a product may have a high percentage of OC, but have a low pepper spray strength. The CRC is the primary number to consider as this number most accurately indicates the strength, burning sensation and effectiveness of the self-defense spray.

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