A little background

Pepper spray can be used by general citizens, law enforcement officers and even postal workers to protect themselves from attackers. You never know when you might need it, so it is best to be prepared for such a situation - and this is as simple as choosing the right product for your needs, considering your ability to aim (you will see why a little later), and thinking about your lifestyle. Because there is such a great demand for pepper spray as a defense tool, manufacturers make them in all shapes, strengths and sizes.

Let us begin by understanding a little more about what this product is. As the name suggests, this product really is made from hot peppers that make your eyes water and your tongue feel like it's on fire (the kind you avoid on a first date), such as cayenne pepper. During the manufacturing process, the pepper is simply extracted and packaged for sale and distribution. I'm not sure whose idea it was to do this in the first place - but it was pretty clever!

When you squirt an attacker, it obviously causes some very uncomfortable side effects ... you can expect to see them experience intense burning in their eyes, skin and nasal passages. These effects debilitate the attacker and give you time to make a quick escape or overpower the aggressor (we recommend getting the heck out of there).

Self defense tools

Size and packaging

When choosing the best pepper spray, you need to carefully consider your needs and lifestyle. Do you need a handy little bottle that is attached to your key ring? Do you need to disguise it as a lipstick, ring or cellphone (very James Bond)?

Most prepared people buy a few 4- to 9-ounce bottles and keep these handy in their home, next to their bed and in their car.


We recommend using a pepper spray with a high SHU level, as these are usually the most effective. SHU stands for ‘Scoville Heat Units’ and tells you how hot it really is in terms of the amount of capsaicin in the manufacturing process. Capsaicin is what makes chilli peppers burn fiery hot. So it goes: the higher the SHU, the more it burns.

Remember that pepper spray is legal, has no long-term negative side effects, and is not lethal (which is why we like it). These advantages make it a very good self-defense option.

Mace Pepper Spray Personal Defense Spray (Hot Pink)
Amazon Price: $18.95 $5.51 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 26, 2014)


Pepper sprays are available in steady or broken streams (according to the type of stream that is released), foam pepper spray, fogger pepper spray, gel or forced cone mist pepper spray. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

But what does all this mean?

Stream pepper sprays give the longest range, up to 20 feet, although the user needs to be very precise with aiming. (Don't choose this type if you cannot aim to, umm, save your life!)

Cone mist sprays disperse the pepper spray in a circular pattern, much like a room air freshener. These are handy if you are not good at aiming for targets (see stream pepper sprays above if you are), although the spray can only reach about 4 feet away from you (your attacker needs to be quite close for this one to work).

Foggers give a strong gush of pepper, but the canisters empty much quicker than other sprays as a result (good for short, urgent use).

Pepper foam looks like a type of shaving cream that sticks to the assailant. When the bad guy tries to rub off this goo-like fluff, it penetrates the skin even further and burns more intensely (that will teach them for attacking you). Caution: You need to be able to aim very well and get it on a bare face or exposed skin to work.

Finally, pepper gel also sticks to skin and leaves a nice mark on the attacker for quick identification by law enforcement officers. It gives a long spray range of 18 feet, but the person spraying needs to be very good at aiming (yes, again) to mark the face.

Fox Labs 4 Ounce 2% OC 5.3-mm UV Flip Top Stream Pepper Spray
Amazon Price: $21.95 $19.95 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 26, 2014)