Pepper spray is frequently recommended as a primary or secondary defensive tool. It’s easy to see why some people suggest it, considering pepper spray’s history and accessibility, especially for those not yet old enough to legally carry a firearm. However, if you’re thinking about adding pepper spray or a similar defensive spray to your self-defense toolbox, there are a multitude of reasons not to do so. Want to know more? Here’s our list of the top 10 reasons not to use pepper spray.
10. Pepper spray isn’t easy to draw.
Your pepper spray is probably going to be buried in your purse, the console of your truck, or deep in your pocket when you need it most. Unless you intend to walk around with the canister of pepper spray in your hand at all times, it’s unlikely you’ll have it ready to go instantly when the moment comes to deploy it.
9. Concentration of active ingredients varies by pepper spray brand.
That’s right, you can’t be sure about what you’re getting when you grab a canister of pepper spray off the shelf. To some people, the fact that you can get it from Amazon—and pretty much anywhere else—does much to recommend its use, but pepper spray is so broadly made, it’s impossible to predict its effectiveness. The pepper spray you choose might be strong enough to blind someone, or it might be so weak it’s no different than spritzing water in the air. Do you really want to take that risk?
8. Wind plus pepper spray? Not your friend.
Using an aerosol-like pepper spray can be a touchy thing when it comes to the weather. Wind is your worst enemy when you use pepper spray, but rain and snow aren’t helpful, either. If the conditions are at all adverse, you could end up with a face full of your own pepper spray and the burning mucous membranes and skin to go with it. Then there’s the coughing, which could work with the other side effects to hamper your ability to fight back—let alone run away from the threat. Do you think you’ll have time to check the wind and consult the almanac before using pepper spray?
7. Pepper spray expires.
Didn’t know that? It’s true. The average canister of pepper spray is next to worthless in two years or less, and that’s from its manufacture date, not the day you buy it. As the pepper spray ages, it loses whatever effectiveness it started with. Do you know what doesn’t expire? Lawfully owned firearms, ammunition, and edged weapons.
6. Health risks.
If you have a health condition that could be negatively impacted by pepper spray—think asthma or cardiac problems—you’re going to have a bad time if you use the spray and it floats back your way (which it probably will). Anyone in your general vicinity with those health issues could be affected badly as well. You’re responsible for whatever defensive tools you use, so why use one that results in an uncontrollable cloud that travels wherever the wind blows it?
See also: How To Use Pepper Spray (But Why You Probably Shouldn’t)