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Pepper Spray And How to Use It


Steven Phoenix

© Copyright 2009 Phoenix Professional Services, LLC


Limits of Liability & Disclaimer of Warranty

The information provided here is the opinion of the author and does not represent any claims made by any organization or institution. The author of this e-Book has used his best efforts in preparing this material. The author makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the contents of this material. They disclaim any warranties expressed or implied, merchantability, or fitness for any particular purpose. The author shall in no event be held liable for any loss or other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. If you have any doubts about anything, the advice of a competent professional should be sought.

Copyright 2009, Phoenix Professional Services, LLC

This material contains elements protected under International and Federal Copyright laws and treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited.

About The Author

Steve Phoenix, owner of Phoenix Professional Services LLC, is one of the country's leading personal security consultants. He is a former Military Police Officer, Protective Agent with the US Government, industrial and personal security specialist, legal investigator and security instructor. As Owner of Phoenix Professional Services LLC, Mr. Phoenix writes, lectures and instructs on personal security and self-defense as well as continuing to provide personal security services. He also maintains an internet commerce site for personal security devices,, and shares his experience on his blog, as well as sharing great Home Security Tips at


CHAPTER ONE - What is Pepper Defense Spray?................. 5
The Effects of Pepper Spray........................................... 7
Special Considerations................................................... 9
Being a Good Witness.................................................... 10

CHAPTER TWO - Preparing to Defend Yourself.................. 12
Can You Injure Someone Else?..................................... 13
Fight or Flight............................................................... 16

CHAPTER THREE - Choosing a Defense Spray................... 18
Differences by Brand.................................................... 21
Differences in Delivery (Stream, Spray, etc)................ 25

CHAPTER FOUR - Use of a Defense Spray.......................... 30
How to carry it.............................................................. 30
How to spray it (Target acquisition).............. ............... 32
Use in the Car................................................................ 33
Use in the Home or other Indoor Area.......................... 34

CHAPTER FIVE – Post Assault Considerations.................... 35
Feelings of Regret.......................................................... 35
Feelings of Invincibility ................................................ 36

CHAPTER SIX – Home Made Pepper Spray......................... 38
Ingredients and Supplies................................................ 38 Instructions..................................................................... 39

CHAPTER ONE What is Pepp er De fe nse Spray?


Pepper spray, also known as OC spray (from "Oleoresin Capsicum"), OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and even temporary blindness) that is used in riot control, crowd control, and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears.

They can be water or oil based. The best formula being oil based as oil based products do not have the problem of separation. Separation is where the final blend will not stay blended and the oil (OC) will separate from the water base. This is very similar to putting oil in water. The oil will want to rise to the top. It is a less lethal agent that may be deadly in rare cases. The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, including chilies. Long-term effects of pepper spray have not been effectively researched.

Extraction of oleoresin capsicum from peppers involves finely ground capsicum, from which capsaicin is extracted in an organic solvent such as ethanol. The solvent is then evaporated, and the remaining wax-like resin is the oleoresin capsicum. An emulsifier such as propylene glycol is used to suspend the OC in water, and pressurized to make it aerosol in pepper spray.

The high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method is used to measure the amount of capsaicin within pepper sprays. This derives the “percentage” of pepper sprays. Scoville Heat Units (SHU) are used to measure the concentration or "heat" of pepper spray. This is the true indicator of how effective your pepper spray will be.

Oleoresin capsicum also is used in foods where the flavor and piquancy are desired without visible pepper specks, or to standardize the Scoville units.

A synthetic analogue of capsaicin, pelargonic acid vanillylamide (desmethyldihydrocapsaicin), is used in another version of pepper spray known as PAVA spray which is used in England. Another synthetic counterpart of pepper spray, pelargonic acid morpholide, was developed and is widely used in Russia. Pepper spray typically comes in canisters, which are often small enough to be carried or concealed in a pocket or purse. Pepper spray can also be bought concealed in items such as rings and pagers. There are also pepper spray projectiles available, which can be fired from a paintball gun. It has been used for years against demonstrators.

The spray has commonly been revered as an alternative to extreme force, such as using bullets or batons. Once the skin interacts with the agent, the effects are usually similar in most cases.

The Effects of Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is an inflammatory chemical that reacts with the mucus membrane and enters the pores of the skin. It causes immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing. The duration of its effects depends on the strength of the spray but the average full effect lasts around thirty to fortyfive minutes, with diminished effects lasting for hours.

Repeated exposure can result in long-lasting changes in corneal sensitivity. There are no lasting decreases in visual acuity, but temporary blindness which last from 15-30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 minutes.
For those with asthma, taking other drugs, or subject to restraining techniques, which restrict the breathing passages, there is a risk of death. The Los Angeles Times has reported at least 61 deaths associated with police use of pepper spray since 1990 in the USA, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) documented 27 deaths in custody of people sprayed with pepper spray in California alone, since 1993.

The US Army concluded in a 1993 study that pepper spray could cause "Mutagenic effects, carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity, as well as possible human fatalities. There is a risk in using this product on a large and varied population".

However, the pepper spray was widely approved in the US despite the reservations of the US military scientists after it passed FBI tests in 1991. As of 1999, it was in use by more than 2000 public safety agencies.

Like TASERS, pepper spray has been associated with positional asphyxiation of individuals in police custody. There is much debate over the actual "cause" of death in these cases. There have been few controlled clinical studies of the human health effects of pepper spray marketed for police use, and those studies are contradictory. Some studies have found no harmful effects beyond the effects described above.
Direct close-range spray can cause more serious eye irritation by impacting the cornea with a concentrated stream of liquid (the socalled "hydraulic needle" effect). Some brands have addressed this problem by an elliptically cone shaped spray pattern.

Special Considerations

Even employing this spray could cause potential dangers to oneself. The spray could be misdirected by wind or “bounce” off of the targeted subject and land on sensitive areas of the skin and eyes. Precautionary measures should be applied to ensure that none of the chemicals disable your ability to control the target.

Never thrust your spraying hand out in front of you towards the assailant or animal. He/she/it may react quickly and hit your hand aside or grab it! As you spray, back up and continue backing up away from the assailant. This gives you a little more time and draws the assailant into the pepper spray

Shouting, "STOP" creates a slight diversion. Raising your nonspraying arm outstretched toward the assailant may cause his immediate attention to be focused on that hand, not the one with the pepper spray. This gives you time to spray before the assailant can react.
Don’t ever shut your eyes! You may have to correct your aim, even if ever so slightly. You should hold the spray for 2 to 3 seconds, neither a short squirt nor a long drenching. After spraying your pepper spray, the assailant or animal will normally stop within seconds, blinded and virtually helpless due to uncontrollable coughing spasms. Once the assailant is disabled, stop spraying. Continue backing away and concentrate on looking for an avenue to get away.

There’s much more to using pepper spray than point and spray! Remember, don’t raise, point, and shoot the spray until you’re ready to fire. Wait until the assailant or animal is in range and you know the spray will hit him full in the face area and effectively incapacitate him! The objective is to surprise your attacker, before they have a chance to react or think.

Obviously you may not have time to deploy your pepper spray in a textbook way. You may not have time to do anything but bring the spray up and start shooting. If that’s the case, don’t worry about aiming correctly, or even correcting your aim, JUST POINT AND SHOOT!

Being a Good Witness

A good witness is someone who remembers the details, such as the height, weight, hair color and style, and clothing of a suspect. If a vehicle were involved, a good witness would remember a license plate, color, make, model, and any other identifying marks.
A good witness would probably consider carrying a pen and paper with them to write these things down as they happen or immediately after. The longer you wait to write information down the more you forget.

When the Victims movement was founded over twenty years ago, the idea of legal rights for victims of crime was a distant ring of hope for those who had suffered the trauma of victimization. Its early sound was a simple statement of seven principles, first articulated in 1980.

l Victims and witnesses have a right to protection from intimidation and harm.

l Victims and witnesses have a right to be informed concerning the criminal justice process.
l Victims and witnesses have a right to reparations.
l Victims and witnesses have a right to preservation of property and employment.
l Victims and witnesses have a right to due process in criminal court proceedings.
l Victims and witnesses have a right to be treated with dignity and compassion.
l Victims and witnesses have a right to counsel.

If you are a victim or a witness in an attack, the first available moment you get, you should call the police. Do not try to be the hero.


Men ta lly P repa rin g to Defen d Yo urse lf



If you find yourself about to get into a conflict, the first thing you should do is to charge yourself up and get your adrenaline going. It is never a good idea to enter into a ring with the intention of “going with the flow of things.” You cannot walk into a fight and expect it to flow in your favor. Your chances of winning a fight increase when you are juiced and prepared for quick responses.

Many people think of self-defense as a karate kick to the groin or jab in the eyes of an attacker. But self-defense actually means doing everything possible to avoid fighting someone who threatens or attacks you. Self-defense is all about using your smarts — not your fists.
People (guys as well as girls) who are threatened and fight back "in self-defense" actually risk making a situation worse. The attacker, who is already edgy and pumped up on adrenaline — and who knows what else — may become even more angry and violent. The best way to handle any attack or threat of attack is to try to get away. This way, you're least likely to be injured.

One way to avoid a potential attack before it happens is to trust your instincts. Your intuition, combined with your common sense, can help get you out of trouble. Your common sense would tell you that it's a good idea to get back to where there are more people around.

Can You Injure Someone Else?

Criminal liability is distinguished from civil liability in that it is the State which brings criminal charges against the defendant, as opposed to the victim or his estate, as in a civil lawsuit. The general criminal law allows for the use of necessary and proportionate, force in self-defense anytime the victim reasonably believes that unlawful force is about to be used on him. The critical language under this standard is ‘reasonable belief’, ‘unlawful’, ‘about to’ and ‘necessary and proportionate’.

In order to establish a reasonable belief, the court will use both a subjective and an objective standard. The subjective standard determines whether this defendant did in fact believe that an attack was imminent (whether reasonably or unreasonably). In arriving at this conclusion, the defendant’s state of mind is relevant. Thus, a paranoid defendant might introduce evidence of his condition to show that his belief, however unreasonable, was at least genuine.

The reasonableness of the defendant’s actions is judged by an objective rather than a subjective standard. The reasonable person standard is one of the most difficult aspects of the law to understand. In an effort to do justice to both sides, the law requires the Trier-of-fact (usually the jury) to consider whether an ordinary person in the defendant’s position would believe that force was about to be used against him.

The defendant’s (and the assailant’s) physical characteristics and past history will be taken into account, but mental condition is of no concern. Thus, comparative size, weight, strength, handicap or pre-existing injury may support a reasonableness finding, but unusual sensitivity or fear will not.

There is no simple formula for the legal application of force in self-defense under American law. The confusion is due, in part, to the complexity of the issue itself, and in part to the variety of state laws within the American legal system. The requirement that the force defended against, be unlawful simply excludes the right of self defense when an ‘assailant’, such as a police officer, is legally authorized to use force such as pepper spray.
Some states have regulations that forbid defense sprays, while some states allow the individual cities to make their own laws concerning these products. Sometimes an actual country will forbid pepper spray, tear gas and mace such as Canada. Therefore, before you take your self-defense products anywhere it is a good idea to contact your local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the area to find out what the specific laws are. Dog and bear pepper sprays are LEGAL in all 48 contiguous states and can be purchased through online defense spray retailers. You can find pepper spray laws by state at

It must be noted however, that a majority of jurisdictions allow the use of force, including deadly force, in resisting an attack by a person not known to be a police officer, and the use of non-deadly force against a known police officer attempting to make a wrongful arrest.

It is not enough that the assailant threatens to use force in the future, or upon the happening of a certain event. Thus the statement "If you do that one more time, I’ll punch you" is insufficient to trigger the pepper spray defense. The threatened use of force must be immediate.

The force used in self-defense must reasonably appear to be necessary to prevent the attack, and must be proportionate to the gravity of the attack. Thus, for example, if an assailant is just raising their voice, responding with the use of pepper spray would be excessive and therefore beyond the scope of the right to selfdefense.

Fight or Flight?

Using a certain defense mechanism shields us from possible danger. The mind responds to the feeling of anxiety and tells the body what to do— either to “fight” and face the situation, or run away and avoid the situation, which is called “flight”.

The fight or flight response is the body’s natural reaction and a form of defense strategy to a possible threat or danger. Explained physiologically, the systems and functions of our body change during a threatening situation. It corresponds to the part of our brain known as the hypothalamus which discharges chemical releases preparing the body for such reaction.

This concept of survival technique used to apply only during a dangerous situation when we are prompted to prepare ourselves physically for any form of attack like when you walk down a dark and deserted area and a man suddenly shows up in front of you. It is designed to shield us from unwanted hazards. But now it is also true to situations where physical reaction is not always necessary, such as that of a stressful day in the office and heavy traffic situations. So, it is not just a protection for physical attack but also for emotional triggers.

The “rule of thumb” is to flee if the assailant is larger than you. If they outweigh you significantly, your chance of winning - without proper training - is minimal.
If you have your spray at the ready, your chances increase significantly to be safe. Then you will have leverage on the situation and can force the opposing force to flee, or give you time to leave the area of threat.

The number one thing is to only use physical force if you feel in direct danger. If there is no way to leave the situation, engage your spray to give yourself the upper hand.

The mental aspect of actually causing physical injury and possibly death to another individual is a looming question. Many individuals might not be capable of protecting themselves, but if their family were threatened, would instantly become the “mother wolf” and counter attack with a ferociousness that might not normally be comprehendible. This is a conundrum that you must answer before you purchase a defensive weapon, and prepare yourself for that possibility.

When a violent attack begins, it is nothing short of a larger, more violent use of action that will end such an attack. A victim that makes the decision to resist must do so with a determination that they will come out on top at any cost. It is not a viable course of action to feign a defense and then capitulate when pressed. This may lead to a greater injury from an attacker.

Most attackers are preying on what they perceive to be smaller, weaker victims. By walking with confidence, or showing that you’re ready to defend yourself, you greatly increase your odds of not becoming a victim. But you must be mentally prepared, should you have to carry out your defense.

CHAPTER THREE Choosin g a De fe nse Spray


If you're not sure about the differences between Mace, tear gas and pepper spray, you're not alone. They are all used in warfare, police activities and individual self-defense strategies. They temporarily incapacitate those who encounter them. They are all, depending on where you live, restricted substances. But there are several differences you need to be aware of before making a purchase.

Mace is considered a type of tear gas.

There are three major types of tear gas, all of which are chemicals, and one of which is not used in civilian life. Mace is a well-known brand name for orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile, abbreviated as CN (what most of would call “tear gas”), which was originally a military chemical and became available for sale in 1962. Since that time, tear gas has been restricted in many states and Mace has broadened their scope. The Mace brand now actually sells pepper spray, and CN and combinations of both.

Tear gas vs. Pepper spray

Tear gas operates differently from pepper spray. It is composed of a white crystal suspended in a delivery medium such as secbutanol, along with various other chemicals. The effects of tear gas are immediate and usually extremely painful: the eyes shut, water and burn; the nose and mouth feel like they're afire; the contacted victim coughs and chokes as his airways attempt to close against the chemical. Tear gas (CN or CS) is an irritant chemical. Remember that pepper spray is an inflammatory chemical.

Mace and tear gas might not affect individuals under the influence, but pepper spray DOES

Although the original (CN) formula Mace is highly effective against most people, when PCP became a serious problem on the streets, law enforcement personnel discovered that someone who's out of his mind on drugs may not feel the effects of Mace enough to be incapacitated. Similarly, people who are violent and insane may not be stopped by tear gas.

Police found that people who were enraged to the point of insanity or people whose bodies had ceased to comprehend pain, such as those on PCP, weren't adequately affected by tear gas. Pepper spray, however, has proven effective against people on drugs, insanely violent or seemingly impervious to other types of pain. Pepper spray wears off slower than tear gas; its oily effects create long lasting discomfort, and it's difficult to wash away. Tear gas is regulated by countries, by states, and by individual cities. Some countries allow no tear gas, others only allow police or military use, and some allow civilian use for self-defense. In the U.S., regulations vary widely by state, and within the state, there may be different regulations concerning use by county or city. In some places, tear gas is not allowed, but pepper spray is. Some states will not allow combined pepper and tear gas sprays (a popular method of marketing). Before buying either tear gas or pepper spray, it's the individual's responsibility to learn the state and city ordinances about their sale, possession and use.

Using pepper spray products to keep you safer

If personal use is allowed, it's also important to learn the right way to use any spray. Personal safety is one reason: the most effective self defense spray in the world can't do you any good if you don't have it when you need it, don't aim it properly, or use it incorrectly. It is not unheard of for a would-be criminal to attempt to sue the would-be victim over the use of self-defense spray. If you have obeyed the laws of your local, county, state governments you cannot be sued if you used your defense spray for self-defense. Get the training and education you need to make your spray work for you.

An expiration date should be on every can of pepper spray. Usually this expiration date is 3 to 4 years from the date of purchase. Although the spray life is indefinite, it may start to lose potency over time as well as the pressure in the can may begin to leak. Any use of the spray beyond the expiration date is HIGHLY unadvisable. It’s a very good idea to replace your spray every year.

Differences by Brand

Industry standards are very close to each company distributing brands of pepper spray. Depending on how you wish to carry the spray, the brands vary in tactical employment. The most popular brands of spray are...

l Fox Labs
l Police Magnum
l Armament Systems and Procedures (ASP) l Sabre Red
l Freeze +P

Fox Labs

Fox Labs pepper spray claims to be the
hottest (5.3 Million SHO) pepper spray used
by police and military worldwide.
Incorporated and founded in 1992, Fox lab's
intent was to create and sell the best less
lethal, self-defense products available to the


civilian market. Fox pepper spray breaks
the record for creating the most effective pepper spray products ever.

Fox is continuing to grow and fulfill the needs of civilian and law enforcement communities, not only by providing superior products, but also by giving exceptional service. For example, in one instance, Fox was selected by the US Army to provide products for the peacekeeping troops in central Europe.

Police Magnum

Police Magnum pepper spray is another one that is preferred by law enforcement. With this brand, you will get similar effects as with the others and of course produce similar results.

The first thing most people do when sprayed with pepper spray is get some water to wash it off with. Why make a pepper spray out of water then? You’re using the same liquid that will be used to neutralize the effects. Police Magnum intensifies a chemical counter-mixture and disables the attacker with immediate sprays.


Police Magnum is a chemical-based spray and its non-flammable. The chemicals used in the formula help make the pepper spray components more effective, yet they are not flammable (no alcohol is used like some other sprays). Another problem with water sprays is that they need something to keep the oily pepper base in solution so it will spray correctly and uniformly.

You can steer clear of these issues with Police Magnum. They have it figured out so it’s more effective and not flammable. In fact they have over 800 formulas they can make to ensure the right combination of features are obtained.


ASP is the largest manufacturer of tactical
batons and tactical handcuffs in the world,
as well as sprays. ASP has been a
manufacturer of high quality products used
in large part by members of the Law
Enforcement Community to protect its
citizens. ASP offers a variety of products
specifically designed for endurance and


effectiveness and has demonstrated this
over the years of their production.

Traditional chemical irritants are little more than specially loaded spray cans. ASP Defenders were specifically designed as a carrying and dispensing system for chemical irritants. Rather than filling a standard spray can with OC, the Defenders incorporate a proprietary aerosol container, specially produced valve system and patented dispensing mechanism. They are precision machined from aerospace aluminum and solid brass. The entire unit is “oring” sealed.

Sabre Red

Sabre Red self-defense spray utilizes a 3-in-1 formula that provides the maximum stopping power. This formula incorporates red pepper, CS military tear gas and invisible UV dye to later identify an attacker. Each unit contains approximately 25 one-second bursts and is used by law enforcement agencies around the world.


This brand is very popular with individuals that live an active lifestyle that enjoy the convenience of snap-on sprays. It is very easy to carry most of their products as well as accessibility to engage.

Freeze +P

Freeze+P is a mixture of 1% CS (tear gas) and 1%
OC. It immediately disables one or more assail

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