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 a name brand of pepper spray. There are others, but Mace®became a household name, much like Kleenex® became the household name for facial tissue.
Just like the name pepper spray implies, the effective ingredient in this self defense product is derived from hot peppers. 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.
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 16 million units (pure capasaicin). 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).
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