How Does Pepper Spray Work?

September 12, 2013

First off, NEVER experiment with pepper spray. It is for use in emergency situations only, meaning you should not use it unless you are in mortal peril; it’s not a toy to be used for fun or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Though it mostly has limited long-term complications, pepper spray can contribute to sudden death. The sprayed individual is not the only one who will suffer the ill-effects of pepper spray. When you spray pepper spray at another person, you may notice some of the adverse effects; this is important to note when you’re using it for its intended purpose: as a method of self-protection. If you ever find yourself in a situation where pepper spray needs to be used, the most effective way you can save yourself by using pepper spray is to use it as directed and then RUN. Get as far away from the situation as you can because you’re going to feel its effects and it very likely will impair your ability to get away effectively. 

To understand what pepper spray can do to the eyes, we should first understand what it is. Pepper spray is derived from a chili pepper extract called capsaicin. If you’ve ever eaten an exceptionally hot pepper, you should be aware of the intense burning sensation that accompanies very hot peppers. Imagine that same sensation in the eye. When exposed to the eye, pepper spray causes involuntary closure, tearing, burning, and temporary vision loss. Further, sinuses will drain and there is a distinct possibility that breathing will become difficult and labored. The symptoms which occur after being sprayed with pepper spray generally dissipate after approximately one hour.

If you’re ever sprayed with pepper spray, regardless of how it happened, getting to an emergency care facility is important. Flushing the eyes with water may reduce the amount of pepper spray on the lids, but may have little long-term effect on the actual eyes. Pepper spray is oil-derived; as oil and water separate, rinsing out the eyes with just water may be ineffective. Emergency services will be a