Pepper spray and pepper gel are both excellent self-defense options. They are equally devastating to an attacker but in very different ways. Learn the differences so that you can choose the best pepper option for your personal defense.

SEP 30, 2022

The Difference Between Pepper Spray and Pepper Gel

“The ingredient that makes pepper spray and pepper gel hot literally comes from the pepper plant.”


Pepper Spray and Pepper Gel Differences

One of the most common questions asked by our customers is: “What’s the difference between pepper spray and pepper gel? And which one is the best option?” To answer that question requires knowing the pros and cons of both, then deciding which option is the best fit for your particular needs. In this quick read we will lay out the facts for you to consider.

What's In This Stuff?

Pepper spray and pepper gel are both made with the same ingredients. The ingredient that makes pepper spray hot is, literally, from the pepper plant. For example, have you ever cut jalapeno peppers and accidentally touched your eye? The oil from the pepper remaining on your hands contains a natural chemical, called oleoresin capsicum. This is what burns and irritates your eyes. Self-defense sprays contain the exact same ingredient delivered in a concentrated form.

Strike n Spray Pepper Spray with Self Defense Blade

It’s also the same chemical that causes your mouth and throat to burn after you eat a hot pepper. Most pepper sprays and pepper gels on the market contain 18% oleoresin capsicum. Police strength pepper spray can be as high as 23% OC concentrate.


The potent mixture is pressurized in a canister so that when you press the activator button, it is forced out and projected on to your attacker.


Pepper gel is not necessarily more powerful than pepper spray. This is a common myth simply because it is usually more expensive. The potency factor of both options is determined by the percentage of OC. The higher the percentage, the more potent the concentrate of pepper spray protection.


Scoville Heat Index Pepper Spray

Little Things that Make a Big Difference

The biggest difference between pepper spray and pepper gel is the thickness of the liquid mix, called viscosity. This difference changes the way it is delivered, offering both benefits and drawbacks.


Pepper gel is delivered in a direct stream, rather than the wider spray pattern of pepper spray. Pepper gel is safer to use indoors and in windy conditions because it will not blow back on you or any innocent bystanders.


With that being said, pepper gel will only affect what it comes in direct contact with, so your aim must be accurate. The correct way to deploy pepper gel self-defense is to point the nozzle at your attacker and draw a line of pepper gel across their eyes, from temple to temple.


Sabre Pepper Gel Stream

A pepper gel gun, such as the Aim & Fire is an excellent option to protect yourself with a firearm-style deployment. The trigger style deployment provides greater accuracy when you need it most.


Not only is this an excellent choice to carry in your purse, but it is an excellent choice for home security because it can be used indoors without affecting your family or co-workers.


The 15 feet distance to target is also a feature of this pepper gel that scores huge points with us. The Aim & Fire also comes with a practice cartridge so you can become experienced before an attacker strikes.

Sabre Aim Fire Pepper Gel Gun

“Pepper gel can travel greater distance but also requires more accurate aim.”


Environment Should Be a Consideration

If you live in a high-risk environment for attacks by gangs or mobs, pepper spray may be a better option because it has a wider spray pattern and can affect multiple attackers in close proximity to each other.


As a general rule, most of us carry our home and car keys with us whenever we leave the house. Keychain pepper sprays are very convenient, inexpensive and most importantly, keep your self-defense weapon at your fingertips when you will likely need it most. Because they are an inexpensive option, these make a great addition to any self-defense plan.


Fight Fobs Purple Boho Self Defense Keychain with Pepper Spray

Distance Should Be a Consideration

Pepper gel self-defense products can be deployed at a greater distance than pepper sprays. This is because the gel is thicker and heavier, allowing it to travel further than a traditional aerosol pepper spray keychain. Pepper gel travels roughly 20% further than pepper sprays. Distance can be a game changer in self-defense because it allows you to begin defending yourself before your attacker is close enough to strike or grab you.


Lastly, pepper gel is typically more expensive than pepper spray. We believe this is due to the manufacturing process being more complicated. Quality pepper gel manufacturers have developed the ideal balance between viscosity and distance/range to maximize the effectiveness of the product.

Insta Fire Xtreme Runners Pepper Spray Glove

What is Right for You?

Still not sure which is best for you? Ask yourself these 8 questions to determine which self-defense spray is going to provide the best protection for you and your family.


1.    Am I calm in stressful situations?

2.  Is it windy where I work and/or live?

3.    Do I think I will need to use it indoors?

4.    Is cost a major factor in my decision?

5.    Is distance/range greater than 10 feet important to me?

6.  Will I need to possibly use this in a crowded area that frequent, like a subway or bus station?

7.  Will I need to protect myself against multiple attackers at once?

8.    Do I prefer a spray or stream pattern for my lifestyle?

8 questions to ask how to decide between pepper spray and pepper gel

The Takeaway

In short, both pepper spray and pepper gel are equally strong self-defense weapons. However, the difference in how they deliver that protection has a big impact on your approach to personal defense. Consider your environment and the circumstances that you feel most vulnerable when making your decision about which is a better choice for your lifestyle.


At Defense Divas®, we offer a diva-fantastic selection of self-defense products for women, including bulletproof gear, pepper sprays, stun guns and tasers, concealed carry purses and more.


Be sure to browse our other articles on self-defense and safety awareness to learn valuable tips and life hacks that could save your life.


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