What Is Pepper Spray And It’s Affects

The effects of pepper spray are far more severe, including temporary blindness which lasts from 15–30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which lasts from 45 to 60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 minutes. Pepper spray, also known as OC spray (from “oleoresin capsicum”), OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness) used in policing, riot control, crowd control, and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears. Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision. This temporary blindness allows officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits people using pepper spray for self-defense an opportunity to escape. Although considered a less-than-lethal agent, concerns have been raised about a number of deaths where being pepper sprayed may have been a contributing factor. The actual compound, however, is not lethal. The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, including chilis. Extraction of oleoresin capsicum 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 capsicum. An emulsifier such as propylene glycol is used to suspend the OC in water, and pressurized to make it aerosol in pepper spray. The high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method is used to measure the amount of capsaicin and major capsaicinoids within pepper sprays. Determining the strength of different manufactures of pepper sprays can be confusing. The best and possibly the only reliable method is using the CRC of the product. The federal government of the United States has determined that Bear Attack Deterrent Sprays must contain at least 1.0% Capsaicin and Related Capsaicinoids (CRC). CRC does not measure the amount of Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) within the formulation. Instead, CRC is the heat bearing and pain producing components of the OC. The federal government of the United States makes no mention of SHU (Scoville heat units) or OC in their requirements, only CRC. Some manufactures may show a very high percentage of OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) and, although OC is the active ingredient within the formulation, it does not indicate pepper spray strength. The OC percentage only measures the amount of peppers contained in the defense spray, not the strength, pungency or effectiveness of the product. Other companies may show a high SHU, but again this is deceiving. The SHU is measured at the base resin and not by what comes out of the aerosol. The rated high heat of the resin can is diluted down depending on how much of it is put in the can. Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent. It causes immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing. The duration of its effects depends on the strength of the spray but the average full effect lasts around thirty to forty-five minutes, with diminished effects lasting for hours.