Pepper Spray 101
Pepper spray is a popular choice for personal defense that has been around for decades. But it’s not your only compact, self-defense option. Pepper gel is a newer formula that contains the same active ingredient — a naturally occurring substance in cayenne peppers called oleoresin capsicum (OC) – but instead of being contained in a liquid, the pepper is suspended in a sticky gel.
When you fire pepper spray, the diameter of the spray pattern tends to spread out as it sprays toward your target. Because pepper gel is a thicker formula, the gel sticks together instead of spreading out, firing in a targeted ballistic stream pattern.
Pepper gel has a sticky viscosity that allows it to travel further than pepper spray droplets. Most pepper gels have an effective range of up to 18 feet, compared to 12 feet for a standard pepper spray.
The potential for cross-contamination is one of the biggest differences between pepper spray and pepper gel. If you fire pepper spray outdoors, windy conditions could blow droplets back at you. Cross-contamination is also a risk if you deploy pepper spray indoors with bystanders nearby.
Pepper gel has a slight advantage over spray for reducing the potential for cross contamination and blowback, as its sticky formula holds active ingredients within a concentrated stream focused toward your attacker.
Effects on an attacker
In the end, OC is OC, and whether it hits an assailant as spray or gel, it’s going to cause an intense burning sensation to target’s eyes, nose, throat and skin. These effects usually last about 45 minutes – giving you time to escape from a dangerous situation. However, while both are debilitating, pepper gel sticks to the assailant’s face, forming a temporary blindfold, and rubbing it increases its potency.
The strength of the formula can also determine the effects of the product. Most spray and gel formulas range from about 2 percent to 10 percent OC, although pepper gels tend to be higher strength.
Now that you understand the differences, arm your self with pepper spray or pepper gel, whichever best suits your needs, so you are prepared wherever you go.
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