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PEPPER SPRAY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


We, at Earth Management are continually receiving questions about our products and about pepper sprays in general. In order to answer your questions and to address the many myths and misconceptions about pepper spray products, we have added this FAQ section to our site.
If you have questions that we have not answered here, please, do not hesitate to contact us by phone, fax or e-mail.

Why should I carry pepper spray?
How does pepper spray work?
What is O.C. (Oleoresin Capsicum)?
What is the difference between pepper spray, mace and tear gas?
I see that most pepper sprays are 10% O.C. Does this mean that that they are all the same?
I have seen in the news, that O.C. based pepper sprays may actually attract bears. Is this true?
How far will your products spray?
How often should I replace my can of pepper spray?
What are SHU's (Scoville Heat Units)?
Should I test fire the spray?
Does the spray work in sub zero temperatures?
What are some general precautions for the use of pepper spray?


Q.
Why should I carry pepper spray?

A.
There are many reasons why you should carry pepper spray as a defense weapon rather than a conventional weapon. Pepper spray is a non-lethal weapon. The effects wear off in 30-45 minutes and have no known permanent effect on animals or humans. Provides an alternative to physical violence or death when potentially life-threatening situations arise. Easier to carry than a rifle. Fire arms are prohibited in many areas where bears inhabit. During discharge, pepper spray has a very wide 'shotgun' pattern so it is not necessary for a great amount of training and practice to be accurate and effective with its use.

 


Q.
How does pepper spray work?

A.
While Capsaicin causes a deep burning sensation on the skin, the thing that really makes it an effective defense weapon is the way it affects the mucous membranes, primarily the eyes, nose and lungs. Capsaicin immediately causes them to swell. The result is nearly total (but temporary) loss of sight and severe restriction of  breathing. The response to this reaction is involuntary (not dependent on pain response), which makes pepper spray a very effective weapon against animals that may not respond to pain.

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Q.
What is O.C.?

A.
O.C. (short for Oleoresin Capsicum) is the oily extract produced by distilling hot red peppers of the Capsicum genus. It is comprised primarily of; (1) carotenoids, the red pigment found in many vegetables, (2) vegetable oils and (3) capsaicinoids, the compounds responsible for pungency.
There are over 15 capsaicinoid compounds found in O.C. The one primarily responsible for the "heat" or pungency is Capsaicin. The other capsaicinoids, while comprising a larger percentage of the O.C., are relatively inert with respect to the pungency.

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Q.
What is the difference between pepper spray, mace and tear gas?

A.
Mace is a brand name for a tear gas product. Tear gas, both CS and CN are synthesized chemicals  that are known as "lachrymators". A lachrymator is a substance that produces profuse tearing. Lachrymators, such as tear gas, are not effective against animals. Tear gas can also cause severe blistering of the skin and permanent blindness. In short, tear gas has a very high level of toxicity whereas our pepper spray is totally non-toxic.

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Q.
I see that most pepper sprays are 10% O.C. (Oleoresin Capsicum). Does this mean that they are all the same?

A.
Absolutely NOT! O.C. is a resinous extract taken from capsicum peppers. O.C. is made up partly of 'capsaicinoids', one of which is Capsaicin. Capsaicin is the primary component of O.C. that makes it hot. Some O.C.'s contain lower levels of Capsaicin than others and while they are cheaper, they are not nearly as hot.

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Q.
I have seen in the news that O.C. based pepper sprays may actually attract bears. Is this true?

A.
First of all, you must remember that pepper sprays are designed to be used defensively as an attack deterrent, not as an animal repellent. When sprayed on objects as a repellent, it will not only be ineffective in keeping animals away, it may attract them! It will also contaminate the object with pepper and render it virtually unusable.

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Q.
How far will your products spray?

A.
While distances are affected by conditions such as wind, temperature or precipitation, the average distance for a 225gm is 6 - 8 meters (22 feet) and a 325gm size can is 8-9 meters (25 feet).

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Q.
How often should I replace my can of pepper spray?

A.
It is recommended that products of this nature be replaced every three years or when the net weight of the contents falls below 75%. Weigh the can accurately ASAP after purchase by using a gram scale that can be found at any postal outlet and write down the exact weight on the label. Review at the start of every season and if the weight drops below 75% or 3/4 of initial weight, it should be replaced.
The reason for this is that the cans are designed with two soft rubber gaskets. Given time, some of the pressure can bleed off past these gaskets, rendering the spray less effective. The nature of the product suggests that effectiveness is of  utmost importance, thus the replacement interval.

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Q.
What are SHU's (Scoville Heat Units)?


A.
The Scoville unit is an archaic measurement that was used in the food industry before there was an effective method of chemical analysis. The sample in question would be diluted and given to a panel of tasters. The number of panel members that could actually detect hotness would be counted. The sample would be further diluted and the process repeated until only a certain percentage of the panel could still detect hotness. The measurement was then calculated by the amount of dilution used. Of course, the ratings were totally subjective rather than objective because they would vary greatly from panel to panel as tolerance to hot food varies from person to person.
The Scoville unit is meaningless in the pepper spray business. The only true way to assess the hotness of any given formula is to have it chemically analyzed and assess the actual percentage of Capsaicin (rather than O.C.).
Lately, some of our competitors have been claiming 2 to 3 million Scoville Heat Units on their labels. According to Government guidelines, pure Capsaicin has a SHU rating of 15 million, so in order to have 3 million SHU's the product would have to have to be at least 20% Capsaicin (do not mistake 20% O.C.). One major competitor that claims 3 million SHU's also claims 0.71% Capsaicin which actually computes to 106,000 SHU's.

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Q.
Should I test fire the spray?

A.
Yes, we highly recommend you test fire it before first use and at the beginning of each season by firing off as short a burst as possible.
Choose an open area with the wind blowing away from you, where there are no other people or animals present. After test firing, you can clean the nozzle with a mild dish soap and warm water to remove any residue.

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Q.
Does the spray work in sub zero temperatures?

A.
Effective range is reduced if used in sub zero temperatures.  We recommend storage above zero degrees Celsius (32F), however, if the pepper spray has been accidentally frozen, we recommend it should be test fired after it thaws.

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Q.
What are some general precautions for the use of capsicum sprays?


A.

Capsicum sprays have been proven effective in repelling bears approaching closely. Use only as a last resort. There is no guaranteed method of responding to a bear encounter; every encounter is unique. Strict attention to the advice of wildlife professionals in regard to safety is strongly advised.

 

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