We use the terms pepper spray and mace interchangeably, but is there a difference? Learn all about pepper spray, mace and the magic ingredient that makes them excellent self-defense weapons.

JUN 03, 2018


“Mace® is only the brand name of one pepper spray manufacturer."

Mace. Pepper Spray. What’s the Difference?

Defense Divas® has many options available when it comes to defensive sprays and one of the most frequently asked questions by shoppers is: “What is the difference between mace and pepper spray?” The second questions we get asked is: “Which is better?”

In a nutshell, Pepper spray is a non-lethal self-defense product which can be used not only to ward off human attackers, but also as protection against aggressive dogs if you are jogging or even bears and other wild animals when you go camping.

Mace® is only the brand name of one pepper spray manufacturer. There are others, but Mace® became a household name, much like Kleenex® became the household name for facial tissue.

⭐What's in pepper spray?

Just like the name pepper spray implies, the effective ingredient in this self-defense product is derived from hot peppers. The oil essence of the pepper contains a chemical called oleoresin capsicum.

Often times you will see pepper sprays advertised with either one or both of the following:

⭐Percentage of pepper spray concentration

⭐SHU (Scoville Heat Units)


⭐Percentage of Pepper Spray Concentration

Most pepper spray products sold to the public range between 2%-10% pepper spray concentration. However, the percentage of concentration is only one factor to be considered when selecting an effective pepper spray defense weapon.

The key ingredient in all pepper sprays is oleoresin capsicum (‘OC’ for short). This is just a really fancy horticultural term for pepper juice. The ‘OC’ in pepper sprays can range from the relatively mild jalapeno to the extremely hot habanero. This is where the Scoville Heat Units (‘SHU’) for a pepper spray come into play.

A pepper spray device may have a low percentage of concentrated OC but that doesn’t mean it is not effective. It may be extremely powerful because of the particular pepper ingredient (OC) used.

“Defensive sprays are rated on the  oleoresin capsicum concentration and Scoville Heat Units index.”

⭐Scoville Heat Units (SHU)

The Scoville Heat Units measurement scale ranges from 0 for a bell pepper, all the way up to 2.2 million for a Carolina Reaper (the hottest pepper on the planet). Obviously, pepper sprays don’t use either end of this scale.

Most pepper spray products on the market today fall within the range that is extremely effective and yet non-lethal (2.0 million – 5.3 million).


⭐Self-Defense Spray Effects

The effects of mace and pepper spray on an attacker are eye opening. The concentrated burst of oleoresin capsicum immediately effect the soft tissue parts of the body as it causes a violent reaction which includes:

• Restriction of the lungs

• Burning and swelling skin

• Severe nasal/sinus irritation

• Tearing, swelling and burning eyes

• Gasping, gagging and wheezing

• Blepharospasm

• Non-permanent blindness

• Larynogospasm

• Inability to speak

• Increased blood pressure

• Severe headache

Adding a self-defensive spray to your safety plan is a wise decision. They are an inexpensive addition that adds a ton of benefit. Defense Divas® has a wide variety of pepper spray and mace options to get you equipped with self-defense pepper power.

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