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Difference Between Mace And Pepper Spray


Mace and Pepper sprays are two different things used for self defence purposes. Having the ability to incapacitate anyone who comes into contact, they play a vital role in the warfare, police actions, and self defence applications. Most often, pepper spray is mistaken for mace and vice versa, even though the former one is an inflammatory agent while the latter is a tear gas, which is an irritant. Both are chemical weapons made by lachrymatory agents that can cause pain, tear, and sometimes blindness by damaging the corneal nerves in the eyes. Before buying Mace or Pepper Spray for use, it is wise to know about their physical effects on human beings.


Mace was invented by Allan Lee Litman, in 1965. The commercial product, bearing the brand name “Chemical Mace”, introduced in the early stages, contained Phenacyl chloride (CN/tear gas) dissolved in hydrocarbon solvents. The popularity of the aerosol self-defence spray led the brand name shortened as “Mace”, and in due course, the very name was applied to all sorts of defence sprays, irrespective of their composition. Although Mace is extremely effectual against most people, it does not affect those who have consumed drugs or alcohol. Similarly, this spray will not affect adequately in violent and insane people who are immune to bodily pains. Therefore, the mace was replaced by Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), the main ingredient of pepper sprays.

There are three kinds of tear gas, and all of them are made of chemicals. These sprays have immediate effects on persons, and are generally very painful. The major physical ailments experienced by human beings on tear gas sprays are: Headaches, dizziness, and extreme discomfort, coughing and tense feeling in the respiratory system, tearing, and burning sensation in the eyes, intensified secretion of saliva in the mouth, discharge, burning and irritation in the nose, and burning and stinging feeling on the face.

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray, made of OC gas and capsicum spray is used to control riots and agitating crowd, and also for personal self defence, including protection from animals like dogs and bears. It was developed into a weapon in the 1980s by Kamran Loghman and FBI, to add arms to the police. Although it is considered less lethal, it has become instrumental in a number of death cases. The dynamic component in the pepper spray is capsaicin, which is extracted from the fruit of capsicum and chilly, using the organic solvent ethanol. If the solvent is allowed to evaporate, the residue will be a wax-like resin called oleoresin capsicum. It is then suspended in water with the help of the emulsifier propylene glycol, and is pressurized to make it aerosol in pepper spray.

The pepper sprays for civilian use were introduced by the US Postal service in the 1980’s. The FBI endorsed it in 1987 as an official chemical agent. But it was legally accepted by the law enforcement agency only after 4 years. The modern civilian pepper sprays are legal and quite safe for self defence. If it is sprayed on the face of an individual, it will lead to intense pain in that person for a long time. The swelling and burning in the eyes will cause shortened blindness, difficulty in breathing, and a strong burning sensation on the skin. Respiratory functions will collapse resulting in uncontrollable coughing, retching, and gasping for air with choking sensation in the throat. Pepper spray is effective in all people, including violent and insane, and in those under the grip of drug and alcohol. It acts instantly to create long lasting discomfort, and wears off only slowly due to the oily characteristics of the spray.

For any accidental spraying, the immediate treatment is exposing the person to fresh air, and avoiding any rubbing of the face. Flush the sprayed area with cool water and clean the affected surface using any non-oil or cold cream soap. Continued irritation or pain needs urgent medical attention.

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