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7 Tips Before Purchasing Pepper Spray

Are you thinking about carrying a can of pepper spray for self defense, there are a few things to keep in mind as you compare the different styles. Most people's first question is whether they should choose MACE or pepper spray. In actuality, though, these are the same type of product. MACE is a brand of pepper spray, albeit a highly respected brand.

Choose the canister of pepper spray that will be the most effective against an attacker. Some types shoot the spray in a finer mist, while others come out in a single stream. If you're worried about your aim, choose one that blankets a larger area rather than a style that must be aimed directly at your attacker's face in order to be effective. Some of the pepper spray chemicals are suspended in water, creating more of a liquid spray, while others are more of a foam or gel than a liquid.

To compare the effectiveness of the various pepper spray types, take a look at the concentration of active ingredients. 3-5 percent is ideal; higher concentrations may be too thick, and they may not spray out of the can correctly. On the other hand, lower concentrations are weaker. There are some exceptions to this guideline; some sprays with up to 10 percent concentration are mixed correctly and are quite effective. The overall "heat" of the pepper spray is measured the same way the heat of a hot pepper is measured, in Scoville Heat Units or SHU. A higher SHU corresponds to a pepper spray that will burn more intensely.

When comparing pepper sprays, be sure to look at the range of effectiveness. Some large canisters will reach your attacker from nearly 20 feet away. Others, especially keychain pepper spray canisters, will only work within three feet of your attacker. Balance portability with effectiveness to choose the canister that works best for your needs.

Many pepper sprays come with additional features, from lights to belt loop clips. Look for a safety latch to prevent the pepper spray from being sprayed accidentally. Today, many pepper sprays are formulated with UV dye. This marks your attacker for later identification under a backlight, and they will probably not even know they've been marked until they are caught.

Canister shape and size is of the utmost importance when selecting a pepper spray that you'll feel comfortable carrying around. If your plans are to carry the spray in your purse or pocket, look for a one-ounce pepper spray keychain, which includes at least three bursts of pepper spray. To keep you safe in the case of a home invasion, choose a larger canister. Larger canisters do hold more one-second bursts of the spray, but even the tiniest pepper spray canister should hold enough to disable any attacker and allow you to get away.

Some pepper sprays are disguised as everyday objects like jogging weights or a pen. These can be a great way to carry the pepper spray with you, and may make you feel more comfortable than carrying a plain spray can.

Before you purchase pepper spray for self defense, consult your local laws. Although pepper spray is legal in all 50 states, some areas have restrictions. In many places, pepper spray can only be sold online or through licensed firearms dealers. You may also need a permit or class before carrying concealed pepper spray. If in doubt, contact your local police station through their non-emergency number.

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