Jump to content

Pepper spray

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
U.S. Marines being subject to pepper spray
Pepper spray
Heat Exceptionally hot
Scoville scale1,250,000[a] SHU

Pepper spray, oleoresin capsicum spray, OC spray, capsaicin spray, or capsicum spray is a lachrymator (tear gas) product containing the compound capsaicin as the active ingredient that irritates the eyes to cause burning and pain sensations, as well as temporary blindness. Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, temporarily taking away vision. This temporary blindness allows officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits people in danger to use pepper spray in self-defense for an opportunity to escape. It also causes temporary discomfort and burning of the lungs which causes shortness of breath. Pepper spray is used as a less lethal weapon in policing, riot control, crowd control, and self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears.[5][6]

Pepper spray was engineered originally for defense against bears, mountain lions, wolves and other dangerous predators, and is often referred to colloquially as bear spray.

Kamran Loghman, the person who developed it for use in riot control, wrote the guide for police departments on how it should be used. It was successfully adopted, except for improper usages such as when police sprayed peaceful protestors at University of California, Davis in 2011. Loghman commented, "I have never seen such an inappropriate and improper use of chemical agents", prompting court rulings completely barring its use on docile persons.[7][8][9]


The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is derived from the fruit of plants in the genus Capsicum, including chilis in the form of oleoresin capsicum (OC). Extraction of OC from peppers requires capsicum to be finely ground, from which capsaicin is then extracted using an organic solvent such as ethanol. The solvent is then evaporated, and the remaining waxlike resin is the oleoresin capsaicin.[10]

An emulsifier such as propylene glycol is used to suspend OC in water, and the suspension is then pressurized to make an aerosol pepper spray. Other sprays may use an alcohol (such as isopropyl alcohol) base for a more penetrating product, but a risk of fire is present if combined with a taser.[11]

Determining the strength of pepper sprays made by different manufacturers can be confusing and difficult. Statements a company makes about their product strength are not regulated.

  • The US federal government uses CRC (capsaicin and related capsaicinoids) content for regulation. CRC is the pain-producing component of the OC that produces the burning sensation. Personal pepper sprays can range from a low of 0.18% to a high of 3%. Most law enforcement pepper sprays use between 1.3% and 2%. The federal government of the United States has determined that bear attack deterrent sprays must contain at least 1.0% and not more than 2% CRC. Because the six different types of capsaicinoids under the CRC heading has different levels of potency (up to 2× on the SHU scale[12]), the measurement does not fully represent the strength. Manufacturers do not state which particular type of capsaicinoids are used.
  • Using the OC concentration is unreliable because the concentration of CRC (and potency of these compounds) can vary. Some manufacturers may show a very high percentage of OC, but the resin itself may not be spicy enough. Higher OC content only reliably implies a higher oil content, which may be undesirable as the hydrophobic oil is less able to soak and penetrate skin. Solutions of more than 5% OC may not spray properly.[11]
  • Scoville heat units (SHU) is a common indication of pepper spiciness. It does take into account the different potency of CRC compounds, but it cannot be reliably used in pepper spray because it measures the strength of the dry product, i.e. the OC resin and not what comes in the aerosol spray. As the resin is always diluted to make it spray-able, the SHU rating is not useful on its own.[11]


There are several counterparts of pepper spray developed and legal to possess in some countries.


  • Aerosol compound
    • Cone pattern dispersion - wide pattern, don't have to aim precisely. It can be blown back by wind and if used inside a building, will eventually make room temporarily uninhabitable.
    • Fog pattern dispersion (fogger)
    • Stream pattern dispersion
    • Grenade
  • Gel compound: has greater accuracy and a reduced risk of blowback and area cross-contamination as the carrying gel does not disperse over a large area. The gel compound also adheres to the target making it more difficult to remove.[14]
  • Foam compound


Pepper spray demonstration
US Marines training after being exposed to pepper spray

Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent. It inflames the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.[15] It causes immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing.[16] The duration of its effects depends on the strength of the spray; the average full effect lasts from 20 to 90 minutes, but eye irritation and redness can last for up to 24 hours.[17]

The Journal of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science published a study that concluded that single exposure of the eye to OC is harmless, but repeated exposure can result in long-lasting changes in corneal sensitivity. They found no lasting decrease in visual acuity.[18]

The European Parliament Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA) published in 1998 "An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control"[19] The STOA appraisal states:

"Past experience has shown that to rely on manufacturers unsubstantiated claims about the absence of hazards is unwise. In the US, companies making crowd control weapons, (e.g. pepper-gas manufacturer Zarc International), have put their technical data in the public domain without loss of profitability."
"Research on chemical irritants should be published in open scientific journals before authorization for any usage is permitted and that the safety criteria for such chemicals should be treated as if they were drugs rather than riot control agents;"

For those taking drugs, or those subjected to restraining techniques that restrict the breathing passages, there is a risk of death. In 1995, the Los Angeles Times reported at least 61 deaths associated with police use of pepper spray since 1990 in the USA.[20] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) documented 27 people in police custody who died after exposure to pepper spray in California since 1993.[21][22] However, the ACLU report counts all deaths occurring within hours of exposure to pepper spray regardless of prior interaction, taser use, or if drugs are involved. In all 27 cases listed by the ACLU, the coroners' report listed other factors as the primary cause of death; in a few cases the use of pepper spray may have been a contributing factor.

The US Army performed studies in 1993 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, and a UNC study in 2000 stated that the compound in peppers, capsaicin, is mildly mutagenic, and 10% of mice exposed to it developed cancer. Where the study also found many beneficial effects of capsaicin, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released statements declaring exposure of employees to OC is an unnecessary health risk. As of 1999, it was in use by more than 2,000 public safety agencies.[23]

The head of the FBI's Less-Than-Lethal Weapons Program at the time of the 1991 study, Special Agent Thomas W. W. Ward, was fired by the FBI and was sentenced to two months in prison for receiving payments from a pepper-gas manufacturer while conducting and authoring the FBI study that eventually approved pepper spray for FBI use.[24][25] Prosecutors said that from December 1989 through 1990, Ward received about $5,000 a month for a total of $57,500, from Luckey Police Products, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company that was a major producer and supplier of pepper spray. The payments were paid through a Florida company owned by Ward's wife.[26]

Direct close-range spray can cause more serious eye irritation by attacking the cornea with a concentrated stream of liquid (the so-called "hydraulic needle" effect). Some brands have addressed this problem by means of an elliptically cone-shaped spray pattern.

Pepper spray has been associated with positional asphyxiation of individuals in police custody. There is much debate over the actual cause of death in these cases. There have been few controlled clinical studies of the human health effects of pepper spray marketed for police use, and those studies are contradictory. Some studies have found no harmful effects beyond the effects described above.[27] Due to these studies and deaths, many law enforcement agencies have moved to include policies and training to prevent positional deaths.[28][29] However, there are some scientific studies that argue the positional asphyxiation claim is a myth due to pinpoint pressure on a person. The study by two universities stressed that no pressure should be applied to the neck area. They concluded that the person's own weight is not scientifically enough to stop a person's breathing with the rest of their body supported.[30]

Acute response[edit]

For individuals not previously exposed to OC effects, the general feelings after being sprayed can be best likened to being "set alight". The initial reaction, should the spray be directed at the face, is the involuntary closing of the eyes, an instant sensation of the restriction of the airways and the general feeling of sudden and intense searing pain about the face, nose, and throat. This is due to irritation of mucous membranes. Many people experience fear and are disoriented due to sudden restriction of vision even though it is temporary. There is associated shortness of breath, although studies performed with asthmatics have not produced any asthma attacks in those individuals, and monitoring is still needed for the individuals after exposure.[31] Police are trained to repeatedly instruct targets to breathe normally if they complain of difficulty, as the shock of the exposure can generate considerable panic as opposed to actual physical symptoms.


Capsaicin is not soluble in water, and even large volumes of water will not wash it off, only dilute it. In general, victims are encouraged to blink vigorously in order to encourage tears, which will help flush the irritant from the eyes.

A study of five often-recommended treatments for skin pain (Maalox, 2% lidocaine gel, baby shampoo, milk, or water) concluded that: "...there was no significant difference in pain relief provided by five different treatment regimens. Time after exposure appeared to be the best predictor for a decrease in pain...".[32]

Many ambulance services and emergency departments carry saline to remove the spray. Some of the OC and CS will remain in the respiratory system, but a recovery of vision and the coordination of the eyes can be expected within 7 to 15 minutes.[33]

Some "triple-action" pepper sprays also contain "tear gas" (CS gas), which can be neutralized with sodium metabisulfite (Campden tablets), though it is not for use on a person, only for area clean up.[34]


Pepper spray typically comes in canisters, which are often small enough to be carried or concealed in a pocket or purse. Pepper spray can also be purchased concealed in items such as rings. There are also pepper spray projectiles available, which can be fired from a paintball gun or similar platform. It has been used for years against demonstrators and aggressive animals like bears. There are also many types such as foam, gel, foggers, and spray.[35]

Oleoresin capsicum[edit]

Oleoresin capsicum, also known as capsicum oleoresin, is also used in food and medicine.[36] In food, it serves as a concentrated and predictable source of spiciness. The food industry has accordingly changed to prefer a combination of milder and more predictable strains of jalapeno and OC for flavoring.[37] In medicine, OC is used in a number of products for external use.[38]

OC used for food is generally rated between 80 000 and 500 000 SHU, roughly equivalent to 0.6-3.9% capsaicin. Paprika oleoresin is a different extract, containing very little heat and mostly used for coloring.[39]


Pepper spray is banned for use in war by Article I.5 of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the use of all riot control agents in warfare whether lethal or less-than-lethal.[40] Depending on the location, it may be legal to use for self-defense.


  • Nigeria: Assistant Police Commissioner stated that pepper sprays are illegal for civilians to possess.[41]
  • South Africa: Pepper sprays are legal to own by civilians for self defense.[42]


  • Bangladesh:
    • Bengal Police started using pepper spray to control opposition movement.
  • China: Forbidden for civilians, it is used only by law enforcement agencies. Underground trade leads to some civilian self-defense use.[43]
    • Hong Kong: Forbidden for civilians, it is legal to possess and use only by the members of Disciplined Services when on duty.
      • Such devices are classified as "arms" under the "Laws of Hong Kong". Chap 238 Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance. Without a valid license from the Hong Kong Police Force, it is a crime to possess and can result in a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for up to 14 years.[44]
  • India: Legal[45]
    • They are sold via government-approved companies after performing a background verification.[46]
  • Indonesia: It is legal, but there are restrictions on its sale and possession.
  • Iran: Forbidden for civilians, it is used only by the police.
  • Israel: OC and CS spray cans may be purchased by any member of the public without restriction and carried in public.
    • In the 1980s, a firearms license was required for doing so, but these sprays have since been deregulated.
  • Japan: There are no laws against possession or use, but using it could result in imprisonment, depending on the damage caused to the target.
  • Malaysia: Use and possession of pepper spray for self-defense are legal.
  • Mongolia: Possession and use for self-defense are legal, and it is freely available in stores.
  • Pakistan: Possession and use for self-defense is legal and its available at physical and online stores.[47]
  • Philippines: Possession and use for self-defense is legal, and it is freely available in stores.
  • Saudi Arabia: Use and possession of pepper spray for self-defense are legal.
    • It is an offense to use pepper spray on anyone for reasons other than self-defense.
  • Singapore: Travellers are prohibited from bringing pepper spray into the country, and it is illegal for the public to possess it.[48]
  • South Korea: Pepper sprays containing OC are legal.
    • Requires a permit to distribute, own, carry pepper sprays containing pre-compressed gas or explosive propellent.
    • Pepper sprays without any pre-compressed gas or explosive propellent are unrestricted.
  • Thailand: Use for self-defense is legal, and it is freely available in stores.
    • Possession in a public place can be punished by confiscation and a fine.
  • Taiwan: Legal for self-defense, it is available in some shops.
    • It is an offense to use pepper spray on anyone for reasons other than self-defense.
  • Vietnam: Forbidden for civilians and used only by the police.


  • Austria: Pepper spray is classified as a self-defense device, they may be owned and carried by adults without registration or permission. Justified use against humans as self-defense is allowed.[49]
  • Belgium: Pepper spray is classified as a prohibited weapon.
    • Possession is illegal for anyone other than police officers, police agents (assistant police officers),[50] security officers of public transport companies, soldiers and customs officers to carry a capsicum spray. It's also authorised after obtaining permission from the Minister of Internal Affairs.[51]
  • Czech Republic: Possession and carrying is legal.
    • Police also encourage vulnerable groups like pensioners, children, and women to carry pepper spray.[52]
    • Carrying at public demonstrations and into court buildings is illegal (pepper spray as well as other weapons may be left with armed guard upon entry of a courthouse).
  • Denmark: Pepper spray is legal to own only with special permission from the police.[53]
  • Finland: Possession of pepper spray requires a license.
    • Licenses are issued for defensive purposes and to individuals working jobs where such a device is needed such as the private security sector.[54]
  • France: It is legal for anyone over the age of 18 to buy pepper spray in an armory or military surplus store.
    • It is classified as a Category D Weapon in French law and if the aerosol contains more than 100 ml (3.5 imp fl oz; 3.4 US fl oz), it is classed as an offensive weapon; possession in a public place can be punished by confiscation and a fine.
      • However, if it contains less than 100 ml (3.5 imp fl oz; 3.4 US fl oz), while still a Category 6 Weapon, it is not classed as a punishable offense for the purposes of the Weapons law. Upon control, it will be confiscated and a verbal warning might be issued[citation needed].
  • Germany: Pepper sprays labeled for the purpose of defense against animals may be owned and carried by all citizens regardless of age. Such sprays are not legally considered as weapons §1. Carrying it at (or on the way to and from) demonstrations may still be punished.[55]
    • Sprays that are not labelled "animal-defence spray" or do not bear the test mark of the Materialprüfungsanstalt [de] (MPA, material testing institute) are classified as prohibited weapons.
      • Justified use against humans as self-defense is allowed.[56]
    • CS sprays bearing a test mark of the MPA may be owned and carried by anyone over the age of 14.[57]
  • Greece: Such items are illegal. They will be confiscated and possession may result in detention and arrest.[58]
  • Hungary: Such items are reserved for law enforcement (including civilian members of the auxiliary police).
    • Civilians may carry canisters filled with maximum 20 grams (0.71 oz) of any other lachrymatory agent.
      • However, there is no restriction for pepper gas pistol cartridges.[59]
  • Iceland: Possession of pepper spray is illegal for private citizens.
    • Police officers and customs officers carry it. Coast guardsmen as well as prison officers have access to it.
    • Members of the riot police use larger pepper-spray canisters than what is used by a normal police officer.
  • Ireland: Possession of this spray by persons other the Garda Síochána (national police) is an offence under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act.[60]
  • Italy: Any citizen over 16 years of age without a criminal record could possess, carry and purchase any OC-based compounds and personal defence devices that respond to the following criteria:
    • Containing a payload not exceeding 20 ml (0.70 imp fl oz; 0.68 US fl oz), with a percentage of Oleoresin Capsicum not exceeding 10% and a maximum concentration of capsaicin and capsaicinoid substances not exceeding 2,5%;
    • Containing no flammable, corrosive, toxic or carcinogenic substances, and no other aggressive chemical compound than OC itself;
    • Being sealed when sold and featuring a safety device against accidental discharge;
    • Featuring a range not exceeding 3 m (9.8 ft).[61]
  • Latvia: Pepper spray is classified as a self-defense device.
    • It can be bought and carried by anyone over 16 years of age.
    • Pepper spray handguns can be bought and carried without any license by anyone over 18.
  • Lithuania: Classified as D category weapon, but can be bought and carried by anyone over 18 years of age (without registration nor permission).[62]
    • Issued as auxiliary service device to police.
    • Police also encourages vulnerable groups like pensioners or women to carry one.[63]
  • Montenegro: It is legal for civilians over the age of 16 to buy, own and carry pepper spray but it is illegal to carry it in a way that it is shown to other people in public spaces or disturb people with it in any way. You are allowed to use it as a self-defense tool if needed.[64]
  • Netherlands: It is illegal for civilians to own and carry pepper spray.
    • Only police officers trained in the specific use of pepper spray are allowed to carry and use it against civilians and animals.
  • Norway: It is illegal for civilians.
    • Police officers are allowed to carry pepper spray as part of their standard equipment.
  • Poland: Called precisely in Polish Penal Code "a hand-held disabling gas thrower", sprays are not considered a weapon.
    • They can be carried by anyone without further registration or permission.[65]
  • Portugal: Civilians who do not have criminal records are allowed to get police permits to purchase from gun shops, carry, and use OC sprays with a maximum concentration of 5%.[citation needed]
  • Romania: Pepper spray is banned at sporting and cultural events, public transportation and entertainment locations (according to Penal Code 2012, art 372, (1), c).
  • Russia: It is classified as a self-defense weapon and can be carried by anyone over 18.[66]
    • Use against humans is legal.
      • OC is not the only legal agent used. CS, CR, PAM (МПК), and (rarely) CN are also legal[67] and highly popular.
  • Serbia: Pepper spray is legal under the new law as of 2016 and can be carried by anyone over the age of 16. Use against humans in self-defence is legal.[68]
  • Slovakia: It is classified as a self-defense weapon.
    • It is available to anyone over 18.
    • The police recommend its use.[69]
  • Spain: Approved pepper spray made with 5% CS is available to anyone older than 18 years.
    • OC pepper spray, recently adopted for some civilian use (e.g., one of 22 grams [0.78 oz], with no registration DGSP-07-22-SDP, is approved by the Ministry of Health and Consumption).
  • Sweden: Requires weapons licence, essentially always illegal to carry in public or private.[70] Issued as supplementary service weapon to police.[71]
  • Switzerland: Pepper spray in Switzerland is subject to the Chemicals Legislation. It may only be distributed to buyers above 18 years of age and against ID evidence. Self-service is not permitted and the customer ought to be made aware of safe storage, use and disposal. The vendor needs to possess the "Know-how for the distribution of particularly hazardous chemicals". Potential mailing has to be shipped by registered courier with the remark "to addressee only". The products must be classified and labeled at least an irritant (Xi;R36/37). Regulations for aerosol packages need to be observed. Sprays with greenhouse relevant propellants such as R134a (1,1,1,2-Tetrafluorethan) are banned. Spray products for self-defense with irritants such as CA, CS, CN, CR are considered as weapons in terms of the gun control law. The weapon purchase permit, as well as the weapon carrier permit, are required for the purchase of such weapons. In 2009, the Swiss Army introduced for the military personnel the irritant atomizer 2000 (RSG-2000) and is introduced during watch functions. The military bearer permit is granted after passing the half-day training.
Police, like this Swedish police officer in riot gear at a 2007 demonstration, may use pepper spray to control civilians.
  • Ukraine: Called legally "Tearing and irritating aerosols (gas canisters)", sprays are not considered a weapon and can be carried by anyone over 18 without further registration or permission. It is classified as a self-defense device.[72]
  • United Kingdom: Pepper spray is illegal[73] under Section 5(1)(b) of the Firearms Act 1968: "A person commits an offence if [...] he has in his possession [...] any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other thing."
    • Police officers are exempt from this law and permitted to carry pepper spray as part of their standard equipment.

North America[edit]


Pepper spray designed to be used against people is considered a prohibited weapon in Canada. The definition under regulation states "any device designed to be used for the purpose of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person by the discharge therefrom of (a) tear gas, Mace or other gas, or (b) any liquid, spray, powder or other substance that is capable of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person" is a prohibited weapon.[74]

Only law enforcement officers may legally carry or possess pepper spray labeled for use on persons. Any similar canister with the labels reading "dog spray" or "bear spray" is regulated under the Pest Control Products Act—while legal to be carried by anyone, it is against the law if its use causes "a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person" or harming the environment and carries a penalty up to a fine of $500,000 and jail time of maximum 3 years.[75] Carrying bear spray in public, without justification, may also lead to charges under the Criminal Code.[76]

United States[edit]

It is a federal offense to carry/ship pepper spray on a commercial airliner or possess it in the secure area of an airport. State law and local ordinances regarding possession and use vary across the country. Pepper spray up to 4 Oz is permitted in checked baggage.[77]

When pepper spray is used in the workplace, OSHA requires a pepper spray Safety Data Sheet (SDS) be available to all employees.[78]

Pepper spray can be legally purchased and carried in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.[79] Some states regulate the maximum allowed strength of the pepper spray, age restriction, content and use.[80]

  • California: As of January 1, 1996 and as a result of Assembly Bill 830 (Speier), the pepper spray and Mace programs are now deregulated. Consumers will no longer be required to have the training, and a certificate is not required to purchase or possess these items. Pepper spray and Mace are available through gun shops, sporting goods stores, and other business outlets. California Penal Code Section 12400–12460 govern pepper spray use in California.[81] Container holding the defense spray must contain no more than 2.5 ounces (71 g) net weight of aerosol spray.[82]
    • Certain individuals are still prohibited from possessing pepper spray, including minors under the age of 16, convicted felons, individuals convicted of certain drug offenses, individuals convicted of assault, and individuals convicted of misusing pepper spray.[81]
  • Massachusetts: Before July 1, 2014, residents may purchase defense sprays only from licensed Firearms Dealers in that state, and must hold a valid Firearms Identification Card (FID) or License to Carry Firearms (LTC) to purchase or to possess outside of one's own private property.[83] New legislations allow residents to purchase pepper spray without a Firearms Identification Card starting July 1.[84]
  • Florida: Any pepper spray containing no more than 2 ounces (57 g) of chemical can be carried in public openly or concealed without a permit.[85][86] Furthermore, any such pepper spray is classified as "self-defense chemical spray" and therefore not considered a weapon under Florida law.[87]
  • Michigan: Allows "reasonable use" of spray containing not more than 18% oleoresin capsicum to protect "a person or property under circumstances that would justify the person's use of physical force".[88] It is illegal to distribute a "self-defense spray" to a person under 18 years of age.

  • New Jersey: Non-felons over the age of 18 can possess a small amount of pepper spray, with no more than three-quarters of an ounce of chemical substance.
  • New York: Can be legally possessed by any person age 18 or over. Restricted to no more than 0.67% capsaicin content.
    • It must be purchased in person (i.e., cannot be purchased by mail-order or internet sale) either at a pharmacy or from a licensed firearm retailer (NY Penal Law 265.20 14) and the seller must keep a record of purchases.
      • The use of pepper spray to prevent a public official from performing his/her official duties is a class-E felony.
  • Texas law makes it legal for an individual to possess a small, commercially sold container of pepper spray for personal self-defense. However, Texas law otherwise makes it illegal to carry a "Chemical dispensing device".[89]
  • Virginia: Code of Virginia § 18.2-312. Illegal use of tear gas, phosgene, and other gases. "If any person maliciously releases or cause or procure to be released in any private home, place of business or place of public gathering any tear gas, mustard gas, phosgene gas or other noxious or nauseating gases or mixtures of chemicals designed to, and capable of, producing vile or injurious or nauseating odors or gases, and bodily injury results to any person from such gas or odor, the offending person shall be guilty of a Class 3 felony. If such act be done unlawfully, but not maliciously, the offending person shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the use of tear gas or other gases by police officers or other peace officers in the proper performance of their duties, or by any person or persons in the protection of the person, life or property."[90]
  • Washington: Persons over 18 may carry personal-protection spray devices.
    • Persons over age 14 may carry personal-protection spray devices with their legal guardian's consent.[91]
  • Wisconsin: Tear gas is not permissible.
    • By regulation, OC products with a maximum OC concentration of 10% and weight range of oleoresin of capsicum and inert ingredients of 15–60 grams (0.53–2.12 oz) are authorized. Further, the product cannot be camouflaged and must have a safety feature designed to prevent accidental discharge. The units may not have an effective range of over 20 feet (6.1 m) and must have an effective range of six feet (1.8 m).
      • In addition there are certain labeling and packaging requirements, it must not be sold to anyone under 18 and the phone number of the manufacturer has to be on the label. The units must also be sold in sealed tamper-proof packages.[92][93]

South America[edit]

  • Brazil: Classified as a weapon by Federal Act n° 3665/2000 (Regulation for Fiscalization of Controlled Products). Only law enforcement officers and private security agents with a recognized Less Lethal Weapons training certificate can carry it.
  • Colombia: Can be sold without any kind of restriction to anyone older than 14 years.
    • Use has not been inducted on the law enforcement officer's arsenal.


  • Australian Capital Territory: Pepper spray is a "prohibited weapon", making it an offence to possess or use it.[94]
  • New South Wales: Possession of pepper spray by unauthorized persons is illegal, under schedule 1 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998, being classified as a "prohibited weapon".[95]
  • Northern Territory: Prescribed by regulation to be a prohibited weapon under the Weapons Control Act.[96]
    • This legislation makes it an offense for someone without a permit, normally anyone who is not an officer of Police/Correctional Services/Customs/Defence, to carry a prohibited weapon.
  • Tasmania: Possession of pepper spray by unauthorized persons is illegal, under an amendment of the Police Offences Act 1935, being classified as an "offensive weapon". Likewise, possession of knives, batons, and any other instrument that may be considered, "Offensive Weapons" if they are possessed by an individual, in a Public Place, "Without lawful excuse", leading to confusion within the police force over what constitutes "lawful excuse". Self-defense as a lawful excuse to carry such items varies from one officer to the next.
    • Pepper spray is commercially available without a license. Authority to possess and use Oleoresin Capsicum devices remains with Tasmania Police Officers (As part of general-issue operational equipment), and Tasmanian Justice Department (H.M. Prisons) Officers.
  • South Australia: in South Australia, possession of pepper spray without lawful excuse is illegal.[97]
  • Western Australia: The possession of pepper spray by individuals for self-defense subject to a "reasonable excuse" test has been legal in Western Australia following the landmark Supreme Court decision in Hall v Collins [2003] WASCA 74 (4 April 2003).[98]
  • Victoria: Schedule 3 of the Control of Weapons Regulations 2011 designates "an article designed or adapted to discharge oleoresin capsicum spray" as a prohibited weapon.[99]
  • Queensland: in Queensland, pepper spray is considered an offensive weapon and can not be used for self-defence.[100]

New Zealand[edit]

  • Classed as a restricted weapon.[101]
    • A permit is required to obtain or carry pepper spray.
    • Front-line police officers have routinely carried pepper spray since 1997. New Zealand Prison Service made OC spray available for use in approved situations in 2013.
    • New Zealand Defence Force Military Police are permitted to carry OC spray under a special agreement due to the nature of their duties.
    • The Scoville rating of these sprays are 500,000 (sabre MK9 HVS unit) and 2,000,000 (Sabre, cell buster fog delivery). This was as a result of excessive staff assaults and a two-year trial in ten prisons throughout the country.[102]

Civilian use advocates[edit]

In June 2002, West Australian resident Rob Hall was convicted for using a canister of pepper spray to break up an altercation between two guests at his home in Midland. He was sentenced to a good behavior bond and granted a spent conviction order, which he appealed to the Supreme Court. Justice Christine Wheeler ruled in his favor, thereby legalizing pepper spray in the state on a case-by-case basis for those who are able to show a reasonable excuse.[98][103]

On 14 March 2012, a person dressed entirely in black entered the public gallery of the New South Wales Legislative Council and launched a paper plane into the air in the form of a petition to Police Minister Mike Gallacher calling on the government to allow civilians to carry capsicum spray.[104]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Most" law enforcement grade pepper spray is measured anywhere from 500,000 to 2,000,000 SHU, which gives a median number of 1,250,000.[1][2] While there are sprays that far exceed this amount, the actual strength of the spray depends on the dilution[3][4]


  1. ^ "Chemical hazards in law enforcement". The Police Policy Studies Council. Retrieved 2009-02-09. Most law enforcement sprays have a pungency of 500,000 to 2 million SHU. One brand has sprays with 5.3 million SHU.
  2. ^ Jamie Smith, reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D. (October 15, 2020). "What is pepper spray, and is it dangerous?". Medical News Today. Retrieved September 2, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Twilight Greenaway (10 January 2013). "How Hot is That Pepper? How Scientists Measure Spiciness". Smithsonian.com, US Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Red Pepper Spray Ingredients and Formula". sabrered.com. SABRE - Security Equipment Corp. Archived from the original on 2015-01-05. Retrieved 2022-09-01. Sabre Red=10% OC @ 2,000,000 Scoville Heat Units. Thus, 90% of the formulation dilutes the 2,000,000 SHUs creating a Scoville Content of 200,000.
  5. ^ "Bear Spray Vs. Dogs: How Effective Is It?". Tbotech.com. 2009-07-04. Archived from the original on 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  6. ^ "Pepper Spray". Llrmi.com. Archived from the original on 2015-06-23. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  7. ^ Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth (November 11, 2002). "276 F3d 1125 Headwaters Forest Defense and Molly Burton v. The Coun". F3d (276): 1125 – via openjurist.org. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (November 22, 2011). "Pepper Spray's Fallout, From Crowd Control to Mocking Images". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 21, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  9. ^ Hemphill, Kenny (August 4, 2015). "10 Inventors Who Came to Regret Their Creations". Mental Floss. Archived from the original on April 28, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  10. ^ [1] Sabre Red. FAQs: What is oleoresin capsaicum? August 2020.
  11. ^ a b c [2] National Institute of Justice. Oleoresin Capsaicum: Pepper Spray as a Force Alternative. March 1994.
  12. ^ Govindarajan, Sathyanarayana (1991). "Capsicum — Production, Technology, Chemistry, and Quality. Part V. Impact on Physiology, Pharmacology, Nutrition, and Metabolism; Structure, Pungency, Pain, and Desensitization Sequences". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 29 (6): 435–474. doi:10.1080/10408399109527536. PMID 2039598.
  13. ^ "Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Use of Police Implements and Arms by the People's Police". www.lawinfochina.com.
  14. ^ "Pepper Gel vs Spray? Which Is Best For You?". wolfpersonalsafety.com. 28 March 2023. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  15. ^ "Top 10 Deadliest Weapons". ozytive. June 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-09-06.
  16. ^ "Effects Of Pepper Spray". Redhotpepperspray.com. Archived from the original on 2011-12-17. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  17. ^ "Top 10 Deadliest Weapons". ozytive.com. Archived from the original on December 6, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  18. ^ Vesaluoma, Minna; Müller, Linda; Gallar, Juana; Lambiase, Alessandro; Moilanen, Jukka; Hack, Tapani; Belmonte, Carlos; Tervo, Timo (July 2000). "Effects of Oleoresin Capsicum Pepper Spray on Human Corneal Morphology and Sensitivity - Vesaluoma et al. 41 (8): 2138 - Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science". Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 41 (8). Iovs.org: 2138–2147. Archived from the original on 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  19. ^ "CROWD CONTROL TECHNOLOGIES (An appraisal of technologies for political control)" (PDF). European Parliament, Directorate General for Research. June 2000. p. v-vi. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  20. ^ Los Angeles Times June 18, 1995
  21. ^ "Pepper Spray Update: More Fatalities, More Questions | United States Environmental Protection Agency | American Government". Scribd.
  22. ^ "Pepper spray's lethal legacy" in Ottawa Citizen. October 22, 1998, p. A1.
  23. ^ Smith CG, Stopford W (1999). "Health hazards of pepper spray". N C Med J. 60 (5): 268–74. PMID 10495655. Archived at web.archive.org
  24. ^ "Former F.B.I. Agent Is Sentenced to Prison", The New York Times. May 20, 1996, p. B8.
  25. ^ "Ex-FBI Agent Pleads Guilty in Conflict-of-Interest Case", The Washington Post. February 13, 1996, p. A12.
  26. ^ "Pepper spray study is tainted", San Francisco Chronicle. May 20, 1996, p. B8.
  27. ^ Reay DT. Forensic pathology, part 1: death in custody. Clinics in Lab Med 1998;18:19–20; Watson WA, Stremel KR, and Westdorp EJ. Oleoresin capsicum (cap-stun) toxicity from aerosol exposures. Ann Pharmacotherapy 1996;30:733–5.
  28. ^ Heiskell, Lawrence E. (9 September 2019). "How To Prevent Positional Asphyxia". www.policemag.com.
  29. ^ https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/posasph.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  30. ^ Remsberg, ByChuck (January 8, 2019). "New Study: More Evidence Against the Myth of "Restraint Asphyxia"".
  31. ^ https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/181655.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  32. ^ Barry, J. D.; Hennessy, R.; McManus, J. G. Jr. (2008-09-04). "A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Treatment Regimens for Acute Pain for Topical Oleoresin Capsaicin (Pepper Spray) Exposure in Adult Volunteers - Prehospital Emergency Care". Prehospital Emergency Care. 12 (4). Informaworld.com: 432–7. doi:10.1080/10903120802290786. PMID 18924005. S2CID 12262260. Archived from the original on 2020-04-18. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  33. ^ Young, D., Police Marksman Magazine, July/August 1995 Issue.
  34. ^ "Tear Gas Cleanup Procedures | Cleanfax magazine". Cleanfax. March 22, 2011.
  35. ^ "Pepper Spray: Types of Spray Patterns".
  36. ^ "Capsicum Oleoresin". pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
  37. ^ Reinhart, Brian (8 May 2023). "Here's Why Jalapeño Peppers Are Less Spicy Than Ever". D Magazine. Retrieved 14 June 2024.
  38. ^ "Capsicum oleoresin". go.drugbank.com.
  39. ^ Cantrill, Richard. "Paprika extract (CTA) 2008 - Page 1(11) PAPRIKA EXTRACT Chemical and Technical Assessment (CTA)" (PDF). fao.org.
  40. ^ "Riot Control Agents". Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Archived from the original on 1 January 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  41. ^ Agbo, Njideka (2018-04-18). "Nigeria: Possession of Pepper Spray an Offence Says Nigerian Police". The Guardian (Lagos). Archived from the original on 2019-01-04. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  42. ^ "Everything you Need to Know about Pepper Spray in South Africa". SecurityPro. 2016-07-21. Archived from the original on 2017-08-27. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  43. ^ "Self-defense gadgets popular after hotel assault - China - Chinadaily.com.cn". www.chinadaily.com.cn. Archived from the original on 2019-10-26. Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  44. ^ "HK Laws. Chap 238 Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance Section 2". Legislation.gov.hk. 2000-05-26. Archived from the original on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  45. ^ "A spicy self-defense". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 2013-08-26. Retrieved 2013-05-05.
  46. ^ Geeta Padmanabhan; Aarti Dhar (October 19, 2008). "Safety is a right too". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on November 1, 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  47. ^ "Pepper Spray - 60ML". Khawla – Your Power To Resist. Retrieved 2023-03-07.
  48. ^ "Arms and Explosives Act - Singapore Statutes Online". sso.agc.gov.sg. Archived from the original on 2019-05-09. Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  49. ^ "Pepper Spray Laws". Geisler Defence - Pepper Gun GD-105. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  50. ^ "Nieuwe wapenwet (New Gun Law)". Archived from the original on 2012-12-24. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  51. ^ K.B. of 10 June 2006 tot regeling van het model, de inhoud, de wijze van dragen en het gebruik van spuitbussen en handboeien door de leden van de veiligheidsdiensten van de openbare vervoersmaatschappijen (B.S. 20 June 2006.
  52. ^ "Prevence přepadení" [Prevention of assault] (in Czech). Policie České republiky – KŘP Královéhradeckého kraje (Police of the Czech Republic - Hradec Kralove region KRP). Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  53. ^ "Peberspray | Våben | Politi" (in Danish). The Danish Police. Retrieved 2022-05-25.
  54. ^ "How your gun permit applications are considered". blog.anta.net. 2007-10-21. ISSN 1797-1993. Archived from the original on 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  55. ^ §2 Archived 2011-07-25 at the Wayback Machine VersammlG.
  56. ^ §32 Archived 2011-06-05 at the Wayback Machine StGB
  57. ^ Ministerium des Inneren Archived 2007-05-16 at the Wayback Machine on Weapon Laws (German).
  58. ^ "Greece". travel.state.gov. Archived from the original on 2017-11-17. Retrieved 2017-11-19.
  59. ^ 175/2003. (X. 28.) Korm. rendelet a közbiztonságra különösen veszélyes eszközökről Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  60. ^ "The Department of Justice and Equality: Firearms & Ammunition". Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  61. ^ "Regolamento concernente la definizione delle caratteristiche tecniche degli strumenti di autodifesa che nebulizzano un principio attivo naturale a base di Oleoresin Capsicum e che non abbiano attitudine a recare offesa alla persona, in attuazione dell'articolo 3, comma 32, della legge n. 94/2009. (11G0142) (GU n. 157 del 8-7-2011)" (PDF). Ministero dell'Interno (Italian Ministry of Interior). 2012-06-01. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-11.
  62. ^ "IX-705 Lietuvos Respublikos ginklų ir šaudmenų kontrolės įstatymas".
  63. ^ "Tamsus paros metas ilgėja: Pasakė geriausią priemonę apsiginti nuo plėšikų".
  64. ^ "Zakon o oružju".
  65. ^ "Rozdział 2. Zasady i warunki wydawania, cofania pozwoleń na broń, rejestracji broni oraz dysponowania bronią i amunicją". Ustawa o broni i aminucji (in Polish). Marszałek Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej. 2004-03-18. pp. art. 11. Archived from the original on 28 January 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  66. ^ "Статья 3 Закон об Оружии. Гражданское оружие - Кодексы и Законы РФ + Судебная практика". Archived from the original on 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  67. ^ "Приказ Министерства здравоохранения и социального развития РФ от 22.10.2008 N 583н "О разрешении к применению слезоточивых и раздражающих веществ в составе патронов к газовому оружию, механических распылителей, аэрозольных и других устройств гражданского оружия самообороны"". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  68. ^ Вукосављевић, Данијела. "Гасни спреј и електрошокер дозвољени по новом закону". Archived from the original on 2015-07-30. Retrieved 2015-08-02.
  69. ^ "Každá žena sa môže stať obeťou trestného činu, buďte preto opatrné a pripravené". Archived from the original on 2017-08-26. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  70. ^ "Behöver man licens för pepparspray?". 24 April 2013. Archived from the original on 2018-07-27. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  71. ^ Polisen. "Knivar och andra farliga föremål". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  72. ^ Постанова Кабінету Міністрів України від 07 вересня 1993 року № 706 «Про порядок продажу, придбання, реєстрації, обліку і застосування спеціальних засобів самооборони, заряджених речовинами сльозоточивої та дратівної дії» (in Ukrainian). КАБІНЕТ МІНІСТРІВ УКРАЇНИ. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  73. ^ "Firearms Act 1968". Archived from the original on 2014-10-18. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  74. ^ "Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted (SOR/98-462)". Archived from the original on 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  75. ^ "Page not Found - Page non trouvé". laws-lois.justice.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 2015-08-03. Retrieved 2015-10-07. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  76. ^ Crawford, Tiffany. "Vancouver police warn of criminal charges for carrying bear spray in the city". Archived from the original on 2020-02-23. Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  77. ^ "Pepper Spray | Transportation Security Administration".
  78. ^ "Hazard Communication". US Department of Labor. Archived from the original on 18 December 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  79. ^ "Mace, Pepper Spray, Self-Defense Sprays and Stun Guns | mpdc". mpdc.dc.gov. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  80. ^ "States With Pepper Spray Restrictions | eBay". www.ebay.com.au. Archived from the original on 2018-02-14. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  81. ^ a b "Pepper Spray (Mace/Tear Gas) - Consumer Wiki". consumerwiki.dca.ca.gov. Archived from the original on 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  82. ^ California Penal Code, Section 12403.7
  83. ^ "M.G.L - Chapter 140, Section 131". Mass.gov. 2008-10-29. Archived from the original on 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2011-08-16..
  84. ^ "Mass. Senate Backs Purchase of Pepper Spray Without ID - Massachusetts news - Boston.com". Archived from the original on 2014-05-24. Retrieved 2014-06-07.
  85. ^ "Florida Statues 790.01 Unlicensed carrying of concealed weapons or concealed firearms". Archived from the original on 2018-02-14. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  86. ^ "Florida Statues 790.053 Open carrying of weapons". Archived from the original on 2018-02-14. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  87. ^ "Florida Statues 790.001 Definitions". Archived from the original on 2018-02-14. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  88. ^ "Michigan Penal Code 750.224d Self-defense spray or foam device". Legislature.mi.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  89. ^ Texas Penal Code 46.05(a)(1)(4) and Texas Penal Code 46.01(14)
  90. ^ "§ 18.2-312. Illegal use of tear gas, phosgene and other gases". law.lis.virginia.gov. Archived from the original on 2018-06-29. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  91. ^ "RCW 9.91.160: Personal protection spray devices". Apps.leg.wa.gov. Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  92. ^ "Sale and Distribution of OC Products to Private Citizens". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-02-28. Retrieved 2011-09-23.
  93. ^ "Wisconsin State Legal Statutes 941.26". Archived from the original on 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2011-09-23.
  94. ^ Collett, Michael (8 July 2018). "The one place in Australia where it's legal to have pepper spray for self-defence". ABC News. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  95. ^ "Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 - Schedule 1". Archived from the original on 2017-04-10. Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  96. ^ "Weapons Control Act". Archived from the original on 2013-01-02. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  97. ^ Police, South Australia. "Firearms and weapons". Archived from the original on 2013-04-30. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
  98. ^ a b Anne Calverley, "Judge clears use of pepper spray", The West Australian, 28 March 2003, 1.
  99. ^ Control of Weapons Regulations 2011 (Vic)
  100. ^ "Dealing with confrontation". Queensland Police. Archived from the original on 2018-04-01. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  101. ^ "Arms (Restricted Weapons and Specially Dangerous Airguns) Order 1984". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Archived from the original on 2014-10-17. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  102. ^ Broadstock, M. (2002) What is the safety of "pepper spray" use by law enforcement or mental health service staff? Archived 2004-12-06 at the Wayback Machine, NZHTA Tech Brief Series 2002; 1(2). ISBN 1-877235-39-3.
  103. ^ Hall v Collins [2003] WASCA 74 (4 April 2003).
  104. ^ Tovey, Josephine (March 15, 2012). "Flight of the MacQuarie Street Ninja". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2014.

External links[edit]

Media related to Pepper sprays at Wikimedia Commons