You're walking through a parking lot towards your car. You have your keys in hand ready to unlock your car door, when from out of now a man jumps out and grabs your purse. Remembering your self-defense lessons, you put your keys between your fingers and punch him.
He backs up a few feet in pain, but it does not stop him. Now he's just pissed off and he's coming back. This time he means to hurt you bad. But you already have your pepper spray ready because it's attached to your keys. You shoot him in the face from eight feet away and in less than two seconds the attack is over. Your attacker is now on the ground, rubbing his eyes in pain, and trying to catch his breath.
What can be said about pepper spray that has not already been said? Well, for those of you who have not heard it yet, I'll say this. Pepper spray works as an excellent personal self-defense weapon.
What is pepper spray?
The main ingredient in pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum, which is a highly inflammatory liquid derived from the concentrated juice of ordinary hot chili peppers. The chemical heat of pepper spray is measured on a scale known as the Scoville heat unit scale, or SHU.
A pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville first developed it around 1912 and the Scoville scale is the accepted standard for measuring how hot a chili pepper is. Even though there are now more advanced methods for determining the exact amount of chemical heat in a chili pepper, the scale is still called the scoville heat unit in honor of its inventor.
To put the strength of pepper sprays into perspective, consider this
1. A Sweet Bell Pepper has a heat rating of 0 shu
2. A Jalapeno Pepper has a heat rating of between 3000 and 8000 shu
3. Tabasco Sauce and Cayenne Pepper have a heat rating of between 30,000 and 60,000 shu
4. A Habanero Pepper (which is one of the hottest peppers on earth) has a heat rating of Between 100,000 and 350,000 shu
Most Defensive sprays have a rating of between 1,500,000 and 5,000,000 shu, with the average pepper sprays fluctuating somewhere around 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 shu.
To put that into perspective, think of the last time you bit into some really spicy food or a really hot pepper. Many of you know what I'm talking about.
You take a small bite, start chewing, and in about 2 seconds your lips and tongue start to get hot. Then your eyes begin to tear up and it feels like your tongue is swelling. Maybe you even start to sweat a little as you feel your face going flush. Drinking water only makes it worse, so you eat some bread or crackers trying to cut down the burning. Your friends are either asking if you're ok, or they're laughing their butts off at how silly you look running around in circles. After a few minutes, things start to cool off and you're just glad it's over.
Now take that sensation, times it by a couple hundred, and rub it all over your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth. That may give you some idea of what it feels like to be shot in the face with pepper spray.
I personally have been shot in the face twice with pepper spray. The first time was on purpose, (no I'm not a masochist), but I had to be convinced that pepper sprays really worked before before I could sell them in good conscience to anyone else. The second time was a couple of years later, when a friend of mine was test firing a pepper spray and she accidently got me in the face with it. (At least she said it was an accident, so we're still friends for now) Let me assure you right now, it works.
Pepper spray is really only effective when your target is sprayed in the area of their face.
The average effects of pepper spray are,
1. A burning sensation to the affected areas causing some pain
2. Eyes tear up and swell shut automatically
3. Swelling of the mucus membranes in the nose and throat, making it very difficult to breath
These effects usually last about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the strength of the pepper spray and how much of the spray actually hits your target in the face.
Pepper spray dispensers come in many shapes and sizes. From small units that attach to a keychain, all the way up to fire extinguisher sized units used primarily by law enforcement agencies for crowd control. I've seen pepper spray disguised as pens, pagers, lipstick, jogging weights, and even a ring that fits on your finger.
The main thing to remember is that like any personal self-defense weapon, pepper spray needs to be readily available for use or it will not do you any good. A pepper spray that's hiding in the bottom of your purse will not prevent an assault any more than a key that's left in your office will unlock your car door.
For this reason, some of the most popular pepper sprays on the market today are the ones that attach to your keychain. These units make it more likely that you'll always have your pepper spray close at hand while walking through a parking lot towards your car. And as long as you remember your pepper spray, you will not forget your keys, so you'll be able to unlock that car door when you get there.