【How-to】How to Get Pepper Spray Off Your Hands –


What is pepper spray?

Pepper spray is a chemical irritant that contains the same agent that provides “heat” in chili peppers: oleoresin capsicum, says Robert Glatter, M.D., Men’s Health Advisor and emergency physician in NYC.


What Makes Pepper Spray So Hazardous?

Apart from the obvious risk of explosion, the contents of the spray are hazardous as well. The active ingredient in pepper spray is highly concentrated capsaicin.

This is the compound that is responsible for the heat in peppers. It can incapacitate the affected individual by causing them a great deal of pain.

When sprayed directly into the eyes, it can also cause blindness due to abrasions to the cornea.

According to the National Poison Control Center, pepper spray will irritate your skin, eyes, and mucus membranes in your upper respiratory tract.

If you inhale the spray, you might start to cough, feel irritation in your nose and throat, and get a runny nose.

How to use Pepper Spray

There are several steps for effective liquid or gel pepper spray delivery to your target.


Store your spray or gel where it is easily accessible, and quick to deploy. In a pocket, on a belt clip, at the top of your bag or purse.

If you are in a situation where you feel nervous, get it in your hand with a firm grip, get it ready should you need it.

Someone who is 20 feet away from you can close that gap in less than 2 seconds. You need to be ready.

There’s nothing illegal with showing that you have the spray in your hand to deter a would-be assailant, but don’t advertise it unless you need to.

Be mindful of wind, and try to minimize or avoid splash back onto you if you are downwind of an attacker.

If you are indoors you will likely be affected by the spray to some degree. Leave the area as quickly as possible.


If possible take a defensive stance like this: Empty arm forward, hand open.

Arm with the spray behind the extended hand, at head level and inline with your nose.

This serves two purposes:

This serves two purposes:

  1. You attacker will likely go for that arm first, giving you more time to deliver the spray.
  2. You will block some spray that might come back in your direction.

Move & Spray

If you are rushed by an attacker, move. Get off the “X” is the expression.

Step to the side or move at a 45 degree angle. Try to avoid stepping backwards, you could trip and fall over your feet or an unseen object.

To apply to your target, spray in an sweeping burst pattern across eyes and head, it will get around glasses if the target is wearing them. Spray into nose and mouth if possible.

Move again. Side step and apply again from another angle if possible, move offline at a 45 degree angle.

Don’t just spritz them, soak them down until they drop.


Get away from your attacker quickly, it takes several moments for the spray to reach full impact on the target.

In that time they could still reach you and get a grip or a blow onto you.

Watch This Video

This is the best video I’ve found about the technique I’ve learned and advocate.

What he is using here is a cone spray to fill an area. Cone sprays are a little harder to find in the US, and the downside to them is they can contaminate you. They can fill a big space, but don’t travel as far as the concentrated sprays.

If you want to get a cone type sprays: Sabre Red 2.0 oz Max Strength Pepper Spray, Cone Delivery or Pepper Enforcement PE510MF-FT Fogger Pepper Spray

What’s The Difference Between Mace and Pepper Spray?

There is a brand called “Mace”, that uses pepper spray as its active ingredient. “Mace” is the same as “Pepper spray”, but “Chemical mace” is a very different product than the “Mace” brand of today. In effect, when we speak of “Mace” today, and “Pepper spray”, we are referring to the same thing as the brand, “Mace” uses pepper spray in its product.

For further clarification, let’s show the the differences between chemical mace and pepper spray.

Chemical mace, is an irritant similar to tear gas, whereas pepper spray is an inflammatory, meaning that it will immediately incapacitate the predator.

Chemical mace *may* not have an effect on someone who is under the influence of drugs, alcohol, but pepper spray will have an immediate effect anyone down, regardless of weather or not they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This occurs because chemical mace will not inflame the capillaries of the eyes and skin, or cause temporary blindness, nausea or an intense burning sensation when you breath. But pepper spray will inflict all of those on an assailant.

In other words, pepper spray is more effective than chemical mace for the reasons stated above.

Yes, I’ve Been Pepper Sprayed

Just so you don’t think I am shooting my mouth off here, yes I have been pepper sprayed in the face.

It was during a pepper spray course, and I volunteered to get sprayed with Saber Level II stream spray (0.5% capsaicinoids.)

The instructor pulled no punches on me, he got both eyes, my nose and mouth. Twice.

It wasn’t too bad at first, and then he told me to open my eyes, and I almost fell over.

The biggest takeaways from that experience for me were:

  • It took about 15 seconds to have an impact on me and reach its full strength, enough time to grab a hold of the person who sprayed me if that were my intention
  • It was very hard to breathe once the stuff penetrated into my mouth and lungs, I wouldn’t have been able to chase anyone or run very well after that
  • I couldn’t open my eyes for at least 10 minutes, even after washing them thoroughly
  • It caused me to drool like crazy and have to mouth breathe
  • My face, neck and arms burned for an hour afterwards
  • I had to change my clothes to keep from reapplying the stuff to my skin

All this and what he used on me wasn’t even the Level III stuff!

The main thing I learned: I was more or less totally incapacitated after 20 seconds.

Had this been a life or death situation for me, I would have been in a lot of trouble.

I could not see, could not breathe well, and was in a lot of pain – even after immediately washing up with solvent and soap.

Bottom line, getting sprayed not only sucks bad, but it can take you right out of a fight. You need to avoid it at all costs in a life or death situation.

How can you protect yourself?

You’re already wearing a mask to protect yourself and others from the novel coronavirus, and that may be helpful. “Wearing a face mask may help reduce oral exposure (mouth, tongue and lips), but obviously won’t do anything to protect your eyes if you are exposed to pepper spray,” says Dr. Glatter.

“The fine mist from pepper spray poses a risk to unprotected eyes,” says Dr. Glatter, who recommends taking along a pair of goggles—like ski or swim goggles—with a tight seal. “Standard eyeglasses or sunglasses are not enough to ensure adequate eye protection in this scenario,” he says. Just be sure the goggles don’t make you feel more disoriented than you already will be if you’re coughing and feeling burning sensations.

Product Recommendations

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How to protect yourself from pepper spray

The measures that will keep you safe from pepper spray will also reduce your chances of catching or transmitting COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, so make sure you take proper precautions before heading to a protest.

✔️Keep your distance: To limit your exposure to infectious pathogens and chemical agents, “the most important thing is keeping the distance,” Jordt says. While we know it’s easier said than done in large crowds, six feet is ideal.

✔️Protect your face: Jordt recommends wearing protective glasses or goggles, which will protect your eyes from pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets (which have the ability to blind people). It’s difficult for pepper spray to penetrate protective eyewear. Make sure you also wear a face mask, and bring extras to change into, if possible.

✔️Cover up: Long sleeves and pants leave less skin exposed to chemical agents. Wearing layers is a smart choice—you’ll protect yourself from pepper spray while also preventing sunburn and being prepared for shifts in weather.

Published by

Joe Fresh

 			Joe is an odor combatant, chemistry

Joe Fresh

Joe is an odor combatant, chemistry extraordinaire and all around good guy. He has an over-productive olfactory system with absolutely zero tolerance for unpleasant aromas. View all posts by Joe Fresh


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