What Does Pepper Spray Feel Like?

What Does Pepper Spray Feel Like?

Pepper spray is one of the most famous forms of non-lethal self-defense weapons in the US. It’s an effective tool used by people, especially women, to disable and fight attackers. You’ve probably bought pepper spray and are wondering what does pepper spray feel like and how will it help you in your emergency? This article has all the information you need.

What Is Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray is a lacrimator that comes in a spray bottle or an aerosol. A lacrimator is a substance that stimulates your eyes to produce tears. Oleorescin Capsicum is the main component found in pepper spray and it ‘s derived from the plant genus Capsicum. Chili peppers are also part of this plant genus.

Capsaicin, which is the active ingredient in pepper spray, is the same substance that adds the heat to chili peppers. However, pepper spray contains higher concentrations of capsaicin than pepper spray.  The heat level of pepper spray and chilis is measured by the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) scale. Pepper sprays range anywhere between 500,000 and 5,000,000 SHU.

The higher the concentration of the pepper spray, the more severe and long-lasting the effects. The use of pepper spray is quite controversial, nevertheless, it’s legal in most states with an exception of just a few. Purchase and use are also regulated by specific legal laws.

The Physical Effects of Pepper Spray

The main component of pepper spray (OC), is a chemical compound that causes severe physical reactions when it comes in contact with your attacker. There are several parts of the body that pepper spray affects. They include;

The Respiratory System

Immediately the pepper spray comes into contact with your assailant’s mouth and nose, they experience high-level inflammation. The throat swells and closes up. Your attacker also begins to cough and experiences difficulties in breathing. Temporary paralysis of the larynx also leads to a restriction in air flow. These effects normally wear off after about 20 to 60 minutes depending on the severity of the pepper spray.

The Skin

When any pepper spray product hits the skin, it inflames it severely. Although the effects of pepper spray on the skin are not as severe as they are to the mucous membranes, they cause redness, a burning sensation, and extreme inflammation. Some pepper spray brands are fitted with a UV dye that stains the skin. This is especially used by law enforcement officers to identify an attacker.

The Eyes

One of the most powerful self-defense benefits of pepper spray is its effects on the eyes. The purpose of pepper spray is to deter an attacker and stop them in their tracks so you can escape and what better way than to blur their vision?

The effect of pepper spray on the eyes causes tearing, closing of the eyelids, swelling, redness, stinging, and eventually temporary blindness. Pepper spray causes temporary blindness but does not lead to any permanent damage. People with ailments such as diabetes and recurrent corneal erosion are more likely to have more severe effects as compared to those with healthy eyes.

The Muscular System

Muscle coordination is one of the secondary effects of pepper spray. The effects on the mucous membranes of an attacker affect the body and the brain goes into full panic mode. The disorientation brought about by the pepper spray may cause your attacker to fall on their knees and hence may not be able to escape or run.

It’s important to note that the effects on the muscular system follow the ones on the soft membranes. These include the nose, mouth, nose, and lungs.

Is Pepper Spray Good for Self Defense?

One question you must ask before purchasing pepper spray is, is it good for self-defense? Pepper spray is a tool designed to deter and not to incapacitate. You can use this product to create a distance between you and your attacker and give you a chance to escape. The effects however, are temporary hence do not assure a long duration for escape.

If you are looking for a self-defense weapon that you can use in everyday situations without incapacitating your attacker, then pepper spray is your best option.


A majority of people are usually curious as to what pepper spray feels like and what it can do for you. The main component in pepper spray is similar to what’s found in chili peppers. Therefore, the effects of pepper spray cause a burning, inflaming sensation that can be quite uncomfortable. The effects are temporary hence giving you a chance to escape.


Written by: Georgina Njoki
Freelance Copywriter and Travel Enthusiast.




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