Pepper Spray vs. Pepper Gel
Pepper spray is a common self-defense product that has been around for decades. But it's not your only option. Pepper gel is a newer formula that contains the same active ingredient — a naturally occurring substance in cayenne peppers called oleoresin capsicum (OC) – but instead of being contained in a liquid, the pepper is suspended in a sticky gel.
Understanding the differences between pepper spray and pepper gel can help you choose the self-defense product for your needs. Here are some key differences to consider.
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 sticks together, firing in a targeted ballistic stream pattern. Due to its thickness, pepper gel can offer a more accurate stream when firing in an outdoor or windy situation. When firing pepper spray in windy conditions, it's possible the droplets could blow back at you.
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. Cross-contamination can happen when you deploy pepper spray indoors with bystanders nearby.
Pepper gel has a slight advantage over spray for reducing the potential for cross contamination and blowback, as its sticky formula holds active ingredients within a concentrated stream focused toward your attacker.
Effects on an attacker
Since both tools contain OC, they will both cause an intense burning sensation to the target's eyes, nose, throat and skin. These effects usually last about 45 minutes – giving you time to escape from a dangerous situation. However, while both are debilitating, pepper gel sticks to the assailant’s face, forming a temporary blindfold. And, if a target tries to rub the pepper gel off, its potency increases.
The strength of the formula 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 be higher strength.
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