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FAQs About Self Defense Products

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What Is MACE Spray?

MACE is a brand name. Don't get Mace confused with Pepper Spray. MACE™ is a registered trade name for the brand of defense sprays manufactured by MACE™ Security International. A Mace brand defense spray either contains OC pepper, tear gas or both. Therefore, Mace PepperGard® Pepper Spray, Mace Pepper Foam, Mace Triple Action, Mace Muzzle® and Mace Double Action® are Mace™ products containing pepper spray, tear gas or both.



What Is Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray (also known as OC spray (from "Oleoresin Capsicum"), OC gas, or capsicum spray) is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and even temporary blindness) that is used in riot control, crowd control and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears. It is a non-lethal agent that can be deadly in rare cases. The American Civil Liberties Union claims to have documented fourteen fatalities from the use of pepper spray. The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, including chillis. Long-term effects of pepper spray have not been effectively researched.

The HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography) method is used to measure the amount of capsaicin within pepper sprays. Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) testing is also used to measure the hotness of pepper spray, but this is a subjective test, which changes from person to person and does not measure the actual chemical percentage within the product.

A synthetic counterpart of pepper spray, pelargonic acid morpholide, was developed and is widely used in Russia. Its effectiveness compared to natural pepper spray is unclear and it has caused some injuries.

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 bought concealed in items such as rings.



What Is Pepper Spray Made Of?

Pepper Spray is a derivative of Cayenne pepper. The oils are extracted from the pepper using a high-pressure process. This process leaves you with the active ingredient in pepper spray known as OC or OleoResin Capsicum. The pure pepper extract is then diluted with an inert ingredient that reduces the SHU or Scoville Heat Unit to get it down to a useable SHU for pepper spray. SHU is a unit of measurement that determines how hot something is. The rating goes from 1 million SHU up to 5 million SHU. 1 million SHU is detectable on the palette in concentrations as little as 1 part per million or 1 drop of OC in 1 million drops of water. All of our sprays are 2 million SHU and in much higher concentrations than 1 part per million.



What Does SHU Mean?

Scoville heat unit (SHU) is a term used to measure the 'hotness' of pepper spray. For example, one pepper spray might be 500,000 SHU while another is 1,000,000 SHU, which means the pepper spray is twice as hot.



What Are The Effects Of Pepper Spray?

Pepper Spray is an inflammatory agent, not an irritant like MACE. It causes immediate closing of the eyes and coughing. The length of the effects of pepper spray depend on the strength of the spray but the average full effect lasts around thirty to forty-five minutes, with mitigated effects lasting for hours.

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.



How Do Defense Sprays Work?

Pepper Spray Unlike Mace or tear gas, which are irritants; pepper spray OC is an inflammatory agent. Contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, throat and lungs) causes immediate dilation of the capillaries. This can result in temporary blindness and instant inflammation of the breathing tube tissues and systematically cuts of all but life support breathing. OC also will create an intense burning sensation on the surface of the skin. However, OC will cause no lasting after effects. The effects last from 15 to 60 minutes. Because OC is an inflammatory agent and not an irritant it is effective on those who feel no pain such as psychotics and those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Tear Gas Causes coughing, irritation and watery eyes. Mace Triple Action® is a blend of OC pepper, CN tear gas and UV dye. This formula combines the benefits of tear gas with the "burning" effect of pepper to disorient an attacker. The spray should be aimed at the face of an attacker.

Pepper Foam is a 10% OC pepper formulation with UV dye that sprays thick foam. The foam acts to "blindfold" and disorient an attacker and cause the same "burning" and closing of the eyes as traditional liquid pepper sprays. The spray should be aimed at the face of an attacker.



How Effective Is A Defense Spray?

Pepper spray is effective in most situations, but not all. If somebody is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or has special training, (i.e. military or martial arts training) he may not be as effected as others.



How Do I Use My Pepper Spray?

If you have to use your pepper spray make sure you have distance between you and the threat if at all possible. Aim the spray at the eyes and facial region of the threat then release a 1 to 2 second burst of spray. After you have done this MOVE out of the way but keep your eyes on the threat. Pepper spray can take a couple of moments to cause a reaction and by watching the reactions of the threat you will be able to determine if you will require another shot of pepper spray. Boxers have a saying "Stick and Move" well the same applies here. Just remember "Spray and Move", "Spray and Move". Once the threat is eliminated seek help and call the police. You may also wish to get a Tactical Use of Defense Spray Manual. It is loaded with useful tips on using defense sprays.

Forced Cone: This is a variation on the popular cone type and is the best in most situations. It is a fine mist that comes out in a forceful spray pattern usually at distances from 8 to 12 feet. In the latest generation of dispensing actuators, the mist is made up of super-fine droplets of pepper solution. These droplets help to minimize blowback of pepper formula on you while the mist (looks like a heavy fog) penetrates the attacker's skin pores and mucous membranes for an experience they will not soon forget! This pattern actually spreads out to a width of approximately 2 feet at its maximum distance. This pattern covers the whole face and is absorbed into the mucus membrane with hot pepper causing the eyes to seal with tears, nose to run, excessive coughing, shortness of breath, etc.

Broken Stream/Heavy Stream: This type is a variation on the widely distributed stream type. Very effective at hitting multiple attackers, hitting them in the dark, in tight areas, e.g., through your partially opened car window, and helps with aim. The solid stream (similar to the water guns sold today) will blast an attacker with super-hot pepper! Through a partially opened car window you have minimum misting action that can contaminate you. If you miss, or the attacker was in a hard- to-reach area, you can "fan" this spray during discharge. Fanning is a technique for hitting your mark. You spray the stream then move your dispersions path from side to side until yon hit your mark! The stream also provides the heaviest blast of pepper (cans will empty faster). The pepper works instantly. Causes the eyes to seal with tears, nose to run, excessive coughing, shortness of breath, etc.

Fogger: This type of spray pattern is great for multiple attackers, crowd control, bears and home use. One disadvantage is there can be some blowback of pepper contaminating you, especially if used outdoors. However, the blast you would receive and the direct blast the attacker receives are quite different. Where you would tear and cough on a good-sized blowback, the attacker would be rendered incapacitated for about 30 minutes. You pull the trigger or release button, and "fan" your path back and forth hitting everything in its path. Picture a mini fire extinguisher! The pepper works instantly. Causes the eyes to seal with tears, nose to run, excessive coughing, shortness of breath, etc.

Foam: This type is excellent for blowback protection and immediate saturation. EXAMPLE: If it is windy, you can spray this with minimum to no pepper blowback contaminating you. A common misconception is that the attacker, once sprayed with the foam, can just wipe it away and continue to attack. This Pepper Foam is like thick, sticky shaving cream but with one addition, 5.3 million Scoville Heat Units of blistering hot pepper. He will try to wipe it off but it will be to late. The pepper works instantly. Causes the eyes to seal with tears, nose to run, excessive coughing, shortness of breath, etc. 



How Is Pepper Spray Deactivated?

Though there is no way of completely neutralizing pepper spray, its effect can be minimized or stopped. As veteran chili-eaters know, capsicum is not soluble in water, and even large volumes of it will have little to no effect. It is, however, soluble in fats and oils, and detergents can be used to wash it off.

Victims should be encouraged to blink vigorously in order to encourage tears, which will help flush the irritant from the eyes. Some of the oil can be washed off the face using a degreasing, non-oily soap such as a mild dish detergent, and a fan will provide some relief.

Some "triple-action" pepper sprays also contain "tear gas" (CS gas), which can be neutralized with sodium metabisulfite (Campden tablets, used in home brewing), though it, too, is fat-soluble and could be washed off to a degree with milk, and some contain a UV "blanketing" dye (little can be done against this, but its effects are not nearly as dramatic).



Is MACE Pepper Spray Legal?

Restrictions on Pepper Spray in the United States of America differ between states.
It is legal in all 50 states, however a number of cities and states have restrictions on sizes, strengths, etc. If you have a question, it is wise to contact your local police department. Defense sprays should only be purchased by those 18 years of age or older.

Wisconsin - 10% Pepper spray without UV dye is allowed.
Michigan - 2% Pepper spray allowed. Can be combined with tear gas formulation.
New York - Defense sprays only available through licensed firearm dealer or pharmacist.
Massachusetts - Possessor must have a Firearms Identification Card (FID).

NOTE: Certain other restrictions may exist in your jurisdiction. The above list is not entirely exhaustive, but it does represent the kind of restrictions that exist. If in question, check local laws.



Is It Legal For Me To Buy A Defense Spray?

Since laws change frequently, it is important that you check your local laws to ensure the product you purchase is legal in your community.  We will not sell defensive sprays to anyone under the age of 18.  We cannot sell or ship a defensive spray (including pepper spray or tear gas) to New York, Massachusetts, or Wisconsin.  Michigan has restrictions on the type of defense spray that is legal. If you are a Michigan resident, check out our Michigan approved pepper sprays in the pepper spray section of our store.       



Is There Anyplace Where I Cannot Carry My Pepper Spray?

Yes. You cannot carry pepper spray on board commercial aircraft. This is a Federal crime that can carry up to a $25,000 dollar fine. VERY IMPORTANT! Some airlines have restricted the presence of pepper spray entirely. Check with your airline.

As a result of 9/11/01 you may have issues when carrying pepper spray into secured locations such as a Federal buildings, State buildings or anyplace where you pass through a security checkpoint. Although there are no laws that we are aware of you should use your common sense here and check with localities.



When Should I Use My Pepper Spray?

Although no defense item is 100% effective in every situation you will need to assess the situation as it happens. You should ONLY use pepper spray if you are threatened or your life is in danger. Please note that it IS a crime to use pepper spray to commit malicious acts.



What Temperatures Are Safe For My Pepper Spray?

Excessive heat or cold may cause the can to leak or burst. Therefore, do not leave your pepper spray in any area that may exceed 125 degrees F or drop below -15 degrees F.



Will My Pepper Spray Expire?

Yes. That is why we print an expiration date on every can of pepper spray. (except for the fox sprays, which expire 2 years from the date of purchase.) Usually all other sprays expiration date is 3 to 4 years from the date of purchase. Although the spray life is indefinite it does start to lose potency over time. Any use of the spray beyond the expiration date is HIGHLY unadvisable. We strongly advise you to replace your pepper spray every year! That way you are always assured of the potency of the spray.



How Can I Be Assured My Pepper Spray Will Work When I Need It?

You should get in the habit of testing your defense spray every 90 days. To do this first go outside and determine which direction the wind is blowing. Remember to always stand upwind from the direction you are spraying. Depress the firing mechanism for 1⁄2 second. This test should be performed upon purchase and every 90 days after that. Be aware that every time you test your spray you reduce the contents of the canister. If you are using a key chain model and you test regularly you will need to replace the unit every 9 to 12 months if you follow the recommended testing procedure above. See the reference chart on the back of the packaging for additional information.



Do You Have Any Pepper Sprays That Can Be Used To Identify Any Burglars Who Might Steal From Your Home?

MACE and the other brands of pepper spray with the UV dye ingredient - The UV dye can only be viewed under a UV light. However, the pepper spray formulation itself has a very bright red color that even when mixed with other agents, will show up as at least a bright orange visible without a UV light.



Is It Legal For Me To Buy A Stun Gun Or TASER?

Again, since laws change frequently, it is important that you check your local laws to ensure the product you purchase is legal in your community.  We will not sell stunning devices to anyone under the age of 18. We cannot sell or ship stunning devices (stun gun or TASER) to New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Michigan, Hawaii, or Rhode Island.



Is A Stun Gun Safe To Use?

Both medical and scientific communities have determined that the stun gun is completely safe because they cause no permanent damage to the attacker. In fact, they have no effect on involuntary muscles such as the heart and lungs. The Stun Gun will not permanently harm someone with a pacemaker.

Always carry self defense products such as Mace, pepper spray, a stun gun, personal alarms or a TASER.