Pepper Spray vs. Pepper Gel | Mace® Brand

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You have probably heard of pepper spray for personal safety, but are you familiar with pepper gel? It’s a different formula with the same active ingredient, but instead of being dispersed as an aerosol, it’s in a sticky gel form. 

Understanding the differences between pepper spray and pepper gel can help you choose the self-defense product for you. 

Ahead, we’ll review some key differences to consider, but first, let’s review the basics.

What Is Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray is a liquid that disperses as an aerosol when you push the trigger on your canister. The liquid contains a naturally occurring substance in cayenne peppers called oleoresin capsicum (OC). When sprayed, the discharge spreads out as it heads toward your target. That said, it can be very effective at closer ranges. 

What Is Pepper Gel?

We call pepper gel the "stickier cousin" of our pepper spray. It was invented by Mace® Brand, and it offers protection at a greater distance than pepper spray. Pepper gel is also more accurate in windy conditions, making it ideal for outdoor use. It disperses in a steady, tight stream and sticks where it lands. 

Pepper Spray vs. Pepper Gel 

Whether you choose pepper spray or pepper gel for personal safety, you have a valuable ally at hand. Both cause an intense burning sensation to a target's nose, eyes, throat, and skin. The effects last about 45 minutes, which gives you time to escape from a dangerous situation. 

Spray patterns
When you fire pepper spray, the diameter of the spray pattern tends to spread out as it sprays toward your target. Because pepper gel is a thicker formula, the gel fires in a targeted ballistic stream pattern. Due to its thickness, pepper gel can offer a more accurate stream when firing outdoors or in windy conditions. Droplets can blow back at you when firing pepper spray in the wind.

Effective range
Pepper gel has a sticky viscosity that allows it to travel further than pepper spray droplets. Most pepper gels have an effective range of up to 18 feet, compared to 12 feet for a standard pepper spray.

The potential for cross-contamination is one of the biggest differences between pepper spray and pepper gel. Pepper gel has a slight advantage over spray when it comes to the potential for cross-contamination or blowback. Its sticky formula holds active ingredients within a concentrated stream focused toward your attacker. 

Effects on an attacker
Since pepper spray and pepper gel contain OC, both cause an intense burning sensation that can give you the time needed to get to safety. However, while both are debilitating, pepper gel sticks to the assailant’s face, forming a temporary blindfold. If your target tries to rub the pepper gel off, its potency increases.

The formula’s strength can also determine the effects of the product—the more OC in the formula, the stronger the impact. Most spray and gel formulas range from about 2% to 10% OC, and pepper gels tend to have higher strength.

Pepper Spray vs. Pepper Gel: Summary of Characteristics 

Pepper Spray

Pepper Gel

Contains Mace® Brand OC Pepper Formula

Easy to Use

Discreet to Carry

Can Deter Multiple Threats

Blowback Less to Occur


Only Impacts in Direct Contact


Harder to Remove


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