The can of pepper spray, which fits into any jacket pocket or handbag, is an ideal companion for everywhere. Especially women like to own pepper spray for self-defense, so that they do not stand there empty-handed in an emergency. However, how it looks like with the use, where the difference to CS gas lies and what the law says about carrying in public, we want to explain to you here.

The most important in 30 seconds:

  • Pepper spray is an inexpensive and effective means of self-defense
  • Caution is required when using it indoors and with multiple opponents
  • You may always carry pepper spray with you, only not at public events
  • Attention: There is a difference between CS gas and pepper spray (for animal defense)
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Pepper spray vs. tear gas

There is a weakened variant that can lead to confusion. If it is so-called CS gas, then you are not dealing with pepper spray.

  1. CS gas is also known as tear gas (With the irritant chlorobenzylidenemalonic acid dinitrile), which in principle has the same effect as pepper spray, but has a much less intense effect. In addition, it shows almost no effect at all in many people and is therefore only conditionally suitable for self-defense.
  2. Pepper spray is more suitable for defense: So in case of emergency, you should preferably buy a pepper spray, which is much more effective as a self-defense weapon in an emergency. Here, the active ingredient capsaicin is used, which has an irritating effect on eyes and mucous membranes

Attention: The legal handling is also different

  • Pepper spray for animal defense is freely available, even without age restriction
  • CS gas, on the other hand, is not permitted until the age of 14

Pepper spray in the test: Does it incapacitate?

This question cannot be answered in a general way, because it depends on where the attacker was hit. Especially in the mucous membranes and the eyes it has a clear effect. So that you can get an idea of how the spray works, it is best to watch the following videos.


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Background information on defensive spray

Before you buy a defensive spray, you should find out what the differences are, what you need to know when using it and what effect it has. Here we present you some general tips.

Is pepper spray legal?

The legal situation of the tool known in the judiciary as “irritant spray” is a little complicated, but in any case you can use it in self-defense. In the free trade pepper spray is available in all versions, but you need to know a few things about carrying it.

Attention at public events

For all considerations regarding legality, keep in mind §42 of the Weapons Act, which prohibits carrying dangerous items at public events. The security service could therefore take it away from you at the entrance. This includes, for example, demonstrations.

Animal defense spray vs. defense against humans

In Germany, pepper spray is permitted if it is intended for animal defense. These spray cans are directly marked as “animal defense spray” or bear the addition “only intended for animal defense”. You may carry these pepper sprays without a permit, as they are not intended for use against humans.

Non-legal pepper spray

If you own a pepper spray that is not intended for animal defense, it is an irritant weapon according to §10 paragraph 4 of the Weapons Act and requires the possession of a small weapons license. On the other hand, you are liable to prosecution for the illegal carrying of weapons.

Attention: Other countries, other rules

Please note that if you purchase a spray from an import dealer, other countries may have different limits for the concentration of the active ingredient, i.e. a higher degree of severity. This means that a spray that is freely available in another country may be prohibited in Germany despite a small firearms license.

Even spray cans for police use are not necessarily approved for private use.

What effect does pepper spray have

The active ingredient oleoresin capsicum causes irritation of the eyes, mucous membranes and skin, with the eyes usually being the most affected.

Effect in case of a direct hit

The victim is unable to keep his eyes open for several minutes in the event of a direct hit. This effect in particular makes pepper spray effective for self-defense, as the perpetrator has poor vision and will not be able to follow you at walking pace. After about 15 to 30 minutes, this effect should wear off, but can last longer if the dosage is high.

Effect on mucous membranes

The pepper spray has a particular effect on mucous membranes and thus ensures a particularly intense irritation of the nose, mouth and throat, if the mixture is inhaled.

Hit on mouth and nose

In the area of the mouth and nose, the spray causes severe pain, and the irritation in the throat causes shortness of breath and a strong urge to cough. If an adequate dose is inhaled, the victim is incapacitated due to a coughing fit.

Effect on skin and wounds

On the skin, the defensive spray also causes pain and a strong itching. However, this is more annoying than threatening and can be ignored to a certain extent by a victim who is insensitive to pain. Certain military forces, such as the U.S. Marines, even train in hand-to-hand combat after exposure to pepper spray.

However, things are different if you hit an injured skin area. Here, the active ingredient would penetrate deeply and cause terrible pain.

Variants of pepper spray

In a can, which normally has about the size of a small deodorant, is the active ingredient “Oleoresin Capsicum”. This is dissolved in a substance, which then makes the consistency of the mixture. At the push of a button, the mixture escapes and through a nozzle can be targeted quite accurately. Pepper spray is available in 3 variants

  • Gas mixture: Here a fine spray, similar to a deodorant, comes out of the spray can, which spreads conically like a mist jet. The gas mixture has the disadvantage that it is very sensitive to wind and only works at very short distances of up to about one meter. In addition, there is quickly the danger that you yourself get something of it.
  • Liquid: A fine, liquid jet escapes from the can at a high pressure. With the liquid, the range is significantly higher and the jet or pepper gel can be directed much more precisely. The range of the point jet is up to about 5 meters.
  • Foam: High-quality pepper sprays have a foam-like consistency, the jet of which is “sticky”. Pepper foam is even less sensitive than liquid and sticks to the hit person, which makes it easier for you to avoid accidentally harming bystanders. In addition, the compact and sticky consistency of the foam makes the jet even less sensitive to wind.

There are also isolated devices that fire a complete capsule with the active ingredient instead of spraying a mixture. However, the properties of these devices are more similar to those of alarm guns and are therefore not discussed here.

Dangers when using pepper spray

First and foremost, of course, you must expect that even a direct hit will not directly eliminate your attacker.

If your opponent manages to protect his mouth, nose and eyes with his hand as far as possible or lowers his head and you only hit the back of his head, then he remains able to fight. The physical performance is slightly limited by the pain, but remains basically present.

Even a hit to the face can be partially ignored by persons if the dose is not too large. In most cases, victims will begin to lash out aggressively, so it’s best to quickly put a few feet of distance between you and the attacker.

Pepper spray: Tips for the correct use

You don’t need to be physically fit to use the spray can, but you should try out the path of the spray on an inanimate object beforehand so that you can assess it correctly in an emergency. What else you should consider, we tell you in the following:

Can I use pepper spray in self-defense?

Yes, pepper spray may be used in an emergency situation, in the case of an unlawful attack, in the context of self-defense against people or animals. As soon as the attack is repelled and there is a chance to escape, you should take this chance.

Self-defense according to §32 StGB(source)

(1) Anyone who commits an act that is required by self-defense is not acting unlawfully.

(2) Self-defense is the defense necessary to avert a present unlawful attack against oneself or another.

Using pepper spray indoors

Of course, the same danger that applies to firearms also applies when pepper spray is used indoors. In a confined space, it can quickly happen that you get some of the mixture yourself. Especially when using gas or liquid, the danger is great.

You can protect your mouth and nose with your free hand and hold your breath to weaken the effect at a very close distance, but you will get some of it yourself.

Use pepper spray on multiple opponents?

When using against multiple opponents, you should be very careful, especially regarding the spray time of the can. Most of the time it can only be sprayed for a few seconds, after which you are on your own. In addition, the other party members will protect their faces as soon as you get the first of them.

So if you have to deal with several opponents, you should think carefully whether you can safely spray all attackers incapacitated.

Side effects of defensive spray

A very small, but nevertheless noteworthy danger is asphyxiation of the attacked person. In addition to irritation of the mucous membranes, the affected areas swell to different degrees in each person. In the case of severe swelling or even an allergic reaction, the airways could become so constricted that suffocation occurs.

So, if the affected person is rolling on the ground panting or even unconscious, you would do well to dial 112. Even if your attack was justified as self-defense, you might otherwise be guilty of failure to render assistance, since the self-defense situation was successfully defused by the use of pepper spray.

Conclusion: Pepper spray very good for defense

Pepper spray or defensive spray is a very good means of self-defense, for several reasons:

  • It is small, handy and can be easily carried around
  • Anyone can use it, regardless of physical strength or size
  • It is effective and buys you time to escape

Therefore, we consider it perfect, suitable for women, children or teenagers and seniors.

Buy Pepper Spray

You can actually buy pepper spray everywhere, even in drugstores and discount stores there are often offers. Of course you can also buy online, the following products you can buy at Amazon.

FAQ about pepper spray

Below you will find another set of answers to common questions about pepper spray.

Pepper: Effective against attackers in contact with eyes & mucous membranes

Attention: Our content has been carefully prepared, however, legal standards change and some are subject to interpretation. We can not guarantee the following information, for a legally sound advice please consult a lawyer. Status: 04/ 2020

Update: 2023-05-28 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API