Pepper Spray Tutorial

There are so many types of pepper spray on the market today that it has become confusing for you to decide which one to get. There are three basic chemical compounds that compose these defensive sprays.

  • CS (Orthochlorobenzalmalonitrile)
  • CN (alphachloroacetaphenone)
  • OC (Oleoresin Capsicum)
Mace Triple Action Pepper Spray

The first two, CS and CN, irritate the membrane tissues and cause stinging and tearing. They can take from 5 to 30 seconds before they are effective and may not work if someone is drunk, on drugs, psychotic, or can't feel pain. The time delay and the fact that they may or may not be effective is enough to turn people away from these self-defense sprays. However, the remaining compound, OC, does not have these limitations.

OC, or Pepper Spray, is an inflammatory agent; not an irritant. When someone is sprayed with OC pepper spray, the person's eyes slam shut. Even if someone does manage to get their eyes open, they won't be able to see because OC dilates the capillaries and causes temporary blindness. Additionally, instant inflammation of the breathing tissues restricts all but life support breathing. They double over coughing uncontrollably.

But I hear about people who aren't affected by pepper spray?

Not Affected by Pepper Spray?

What you have heard about are the man-made chemical compounds commonly referred to as CS or CN. These are your tear gases. For example, military personnel are subjected to similar chemicals in the course of their training to simulate a chemical attack in a wartime situation. After repeated exposure, a resistance is built up so the "gas chamber," as it is called, does not affect them as much. And it's true that some people are just not as affected as others are. Other law enforcement personnel, martial artists, and yes, even determined criminals can fight through the effects of CS or CN chemical sprays.

Chemical Compounds that make up defensive sprays:

  • CS (Orthochlorobenzalmalonitrile)
  • CN (alphachloroacetaphenone)
  • OC (Oleoresin Capsicum)

Pepper Spray, on the other hand, has the effect of putting a brick wall in between the assailant and the sprayer. When someone gets a full blast of OC pepper spray, they stop what they are doing. They stop what they are thinking. Even people previously mentioned that could withstand the effects of tear gas, are very personally affected by OC pepper spray. This includes people that are drunk, on drugs, or psychotic.

Ok, so how do I decide which one to buy?

Once it became known that OC is superior to CN and CS, many brands became available with different concentrations, formulations, sizes, and spray patterns. Choosing the right spray is a critical decision if the spray ever has to be used in a self defense situation.


Pepper GelSize and capacity: Sizes can range from a 1/2 ounce personal pepper spray up to 9 ounces for the bear pepper spray. Keychain sized defensive sprays or sizes easily carried on a belt or in a purse are ideal for most situations. Even the smallest units have enough in them to handle multiple attackers if done properly. The two main factors you want to look for are the range and the number of shots. A 6-8 foot range is plenty since that is where most personal assaults will take place. Most defensive sprays are also classified by the number of one-second bursts. A good 1-2 second burst will disable almost any assailant.

Patterns of Defensive Sprays

Spray Pattern: There are two basic types of defensive spray patterns, stream and foggers. Stream patterns give good range but require aiming directly at the face. Cone foggers have shorter range but you don't have to aim as well. If there is a breeze, a stream is more controllable. The fogger can be blown off target or even back to the sprayer. OC pepper spray works best when it hits the eyes and is inhaled. The fogger spray is inhaled instantly while the stream might take longer for the person to breathe in the spray. In all cases, it is critical to hit the attacker in the face!

What else should I know about purchasing defensive pepper sprays?

Aside from size and capacity, and spray pattern of pepper spray, the formulation can also be a consideration.

Formulation: OC comes in concentrations of 5%, 10%, 15%, or even higher. Bear pepper spray is not rated with a percentage. It is formulated for bears. Because of different marketing that has evolved around these defensive sprays, the percentage is not always a good indicator of effectiveness. TBO-TECH Self Defense Products only carries the highest quality pepper sprays, including Mace brand, that have been proven to be most effective.

Other factors: Many pepper sprays come on keychains. This is a sound idea because since most people usually have their keys with them, they will also always have their pepper spray with them. But don't forget about the times you don't have your keys. The small investment in an extra pepper spray could actually save your life!

The best pepper spray in the world or the most extensive training will amount to nothing if you don't do two things: Carry your pepper spray wherever you go and practice using it!

Effects of Pepper Spray 

Pepper spray use is not to be taken lightly because its effects can be severely harmful. As pepper spray products vary in its composition, its effects similarly vary as well. In any case, victims of pepper spray exposure can suffer from any combination of the effects listed below.


The first and unavoidable effect of pepper spray exposure is on the victim’s skin. Because pepper spray is, above all things, an inflammatory agent, the victim will experience an excruciating, burning sensation on the affected areas. The skin may also redden, swell, and even blister as a severe complication of pepper spray exposure. 


Skin is not only the part of your body that is affected when you’re exposed to pepper spray. Respiratory problems may also arise depending on the duration and extent of exposure. Victims could suffer from bouts of dry cough, gagging, and wheezing. They could experience a burning sensation in their throat and difficulties with breathing and speaking. 

The victim could also start sneezing, experience greater irritation in the affected area, and suffer from reflex mucus secretion, which basically means suffering from a runny nose due to pepper spray exposure. 


Your eyes are arguably the most vulnerable to pepper spray exposure. When directly targeted, they will start to redden, swell, and sting unbearably. Victims will also suffer from blepharospasm, lacrimation, and conjuctival inflammation. Reflex or involuntary closing of eyelids is also possible.

Affected eyes may also suffer from superficial anesthesia and deficient blink reflex, which will then result in inevitable corneal abrasions from contact lenses and other foreign objects.

If the victim is already suffering from certain eye problems (recurrent corneal erosion, keratomalacia, or keratitis) then the effects could be more severe than usual. Suggested treatment for these individuals is a fifteen-minute period of water flushing at a minimum. Obviously, pepper spray effects are far from trivial so use them wisely.