Pepper spray is the world's most popular non-lethal weapon. It is used by law enforcement personnel, the military, and others around the world for self-defense. Invented in 1973, pepper spray was developed and patented by Dr. John E. Parsons at the University of North Carolina's School of Pharmacy in 1982 as "oleoresin capsicum". Today we will take a look at some intriguing facts about this ubiquitous product to refresh your memory and bring you up to speed on this often-overlooked area of police equipment.

The name itself is derived from the spiciness of the substance, which is extracted from chili peppers. Specifically, it comes from the chemical capsaicin, which causes a burning sensation in anyone exposed to it. Capsaicin will cause a burning sensation on any mucous membrane it touches – thus eyes and noses are especially vulnerable areas, especially when pepper spray is used against people who are engaged in violent activity such as rioting or assaults. It comes in two types: pepper gel and pepper spray!

What is Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray is a less-lethal incapacitant, similar to tear gas, which causes the eyes to close, sneezing and coughing; and pain in the nose, throat, and lungs. It also causes temporary blindness. Pepper spray typically comes as a pressurized aerosol canister or as an "oleoresin capsicum" (OC) based compound in a container such as a water gun or paintball gun.

“Oleoresin capsicum” (OC) pepper sprays are natural plant products made from chili peppers that are grown around the world. They are similar to capsaicin in their effect but typically contain about 30% capsaicin by weight. Pepper sprays are marketed for domestic and outdoor use. OC pepper spray is used for self-defense, crowd control, riot control, and incapacitating humans and animals. Pepper can be used to clear an area of threatening people or animals. 

Before a lethal response, it is recommended that officers carry OC pepper spray with them as a last resort for dispersing unwanted people. Pepper sprays have been identified as weapons capable of causing severe pain in a short duration (10 seconds), with effects lasting up to six hours. OC spray can cause a burning sensation in the eyes and upper respiratory tract when inhaled.

What is Pepper Gel?

Pepper gel is a type of sauce or condiment that typically contains black pepper, although other types of spices and herbs may be used to flavor it. It can also refer to a sauce made with red pepper, paprika, chili peppers, cayenne pepper, or ginger. Other sauces might include garlic and wasabi paste. They are often used as cooking ingredients for meats (especially chicken), fish, vegetables, and eggs. 

Some recipes call for only salt and pepper as ingredients with some oil mixed in the end result being eaten with bread. Typically, the sauce will be placed on bread or crackers. This gel is black with a bit of red mixed in. Sometimes there are more ingredients such as paprika and chili mixed in. It may be used as a type of chutney. It can also be used to add taste to other condiments such as soy sauce and teriyaki sauce.

Pepper Spray Vs Pepper Gel

The most important characteristic of any pepper spray is its strength. Most pepper sprays will include a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) rating, which measures the relative hotness or pungency of chili pepper. This number can range anywhere from 100,000 SHUs to 2,500,000 SHUs! Pepper gel typically has much less capsaicin and usually ranges from 1,000 to 10,000 SHUs in strength.

One of the ways to increase the strength of a pepper gel is to use a "super-strength" base. In this case, the capsaicin is more concentrated in the gel, which provides significantly more burning heat, compared to most other types of pepper spray. The majority of pepper gels provide less than 3-5% strength acceleration due to this method.

  • Effects on Skin

The primary difference between these two types is that pepper spray burns through clothing and targets your attacker's eyes and mucous membranes while the pepper gel limits its effects to the skin. There are some medical studies that have observed that using pepper spray can lead to blindness in dogs and other animals due to damage to their eyes (vision).

  • Self Defense Efficiency

Pepper spray is a more serious self-defense option than pepper gel. Pepper spray can cause eye irritation, breathing difficulty, and respiratory problems. It's also been used as an animal repellent, tear gas in warfare situations, or as a form of punishment to control rioters. 

Pepper gel doesn't carry the same risks because it uses formulations that differ from those of capsaicin or oleoresin capsicum. Additionally, the internet offers several instructions on how to wash pepper spray off skin and clothes after using it as one of the self defense weapons while no such instructions exist for pepper gel.

Pepper gel is applied to the assailant's skin, and is intended to restrict movement. It won't cause injury or pain and can be removed easily with soap and water. Pepper spray causes a burning sensation that lasts for up to 30 minutes (depending on the formula), irritating eyes, pain and swelling in airways, and in rare cases, temporary blindness. 

Pepper spray can prevent people from breathing for a few minutes if used at close range. However, pepper spray use isn't com mon in self-defense situations because of its risks of causing serious harm or death to the user or bystanders. Additionally, pepper spray is not safe for animals and is not used as a control measure for livestock.

  • Effectiveness

Pepper spray has been used in self-defense situations with excellent results. The Center for Forensic Sciences in Philadelphia found that victims who were sprayed directly by a subject's spraying arm sustained significantly less pain from being sprayed than those directly sprayed by their assailant's hands or feet. 

In other self-defense scenarios, pepper spray may have been the only weapon capable of stopping an attacker from overpowering the victim, and it could be used to disorient the assailant. Pepper gel, or OC products containing pepper gel, are legal in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia. Pepper spray is legal in most states but has been banned in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. However, it's important to note that the laws regulating both pepper spray and pepper gel vary widely by state.

Uses and Benefits of Pepper Spray and Gel

To apply pepper spray, you simply have to point the canister toward your target's face while holding down the trigger; moving several inches closer or farther away will not change its effectiveness. Just be sure to stand at least six feet away to avoid getting sprayed yourself if you miss your target.

Pepper gel is more like a spray than pepper spray. Its effects are temporary and offer protection from an attack while you're escaping or calling the police. To use pepper gel, you need to keep your target within striking distance and make direct contact with his body. 

When the product comes in contact with clothing, it immediately converts into a foam to protect the skin from the full effects of the active ingredients in the formulation. Contacting your target's skin directly allows for better absorption of the formula; without it, you may not be able to restrict his movement or stop an attack.

When using pepper spray in self-defense situations, you should keep the canister as far away from your face as possible to avoid inhaling the formulation. When cleaning up, take 
off your outer clothing and wash it with soap and water if necessary to remove any residue. 

Pepper spray has been known to cloud water with its odors that cause irritation to the eyes and nose, so be sure to stay clear of sources of water until it's gone; this may include faucets, showers, or other body parts that can come into contact with running water.

Which One is the Right Choice?

Pepper spray Vs pepper gel, share many of the same characteristics, including the primary active ingredient, oleoresin capsicum. The main difference between the two is that pepper gel contains a suspension of oleoresin capsicum in liquid and pepper spray is an aerosol mist containing ground-up particles of oleoresin capsicum.

Both products are used primarily by law enforcement to help subdue people who are violently resisting arrest and both can produce eye-watering pain, temporary blindness, uncontrollable coughing, and difficulty breathing for several minutes. What you choose depends on your personal preference or the situation you think you'll be using it in.

With pepper gel, you get a longer standoff range due to the suspension of oleoresin capsicum in liquid. This means you don't have to get as close to a potentially violent subject as you would with pepper spray. Pepper spray comes out of the canister as an aerosol mist and must be sprayed directly into the face of someone in order for it to be effective. 

The disadvantage is that pepper spray can blow back into the eyes or body of an officer if there is too much wind or if he is standing downwind from the target. Both products are easy to use, but they have different features that make them useful in different situations. Pepper gel uses easily detachable single-shot cartridges that resemble a marker pen.