What Is the Strongest Pepper Spray You Can Buy?

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Self-defense sprays are must-haves for any individual who wishes to improve his or her personal protection.

This self-defense tool keeps you safe or at least gives you the chance to run to safety from attackers, both aggressive animals and humans.

When looking for self-defense products, you might have asked yourself one common question, “What is the strongest pepper spray you can buy?”

    How Is Pepper Spray Strength Measured?

    To precisely determine what is the strongest pepper spray you can buy, we first need to understand how its strength is measured.

    Generally, you need to pay attention to three important factors: major capsaicinoids, oleoresin capsicum, and the disbursement method.

    Here’s how they affect the strength of pepper spray.

    Major Capsaicinoids

    Major capsaicinoids or MC determine how hot a canister of pepper spray will be.

    They are comprised of three components: capsaicin, nordihydrocapsaicin, and dihydrocapsaicin.

    These chemicals are primarily responsible for the discomfort a person may experience when hit with pepper spray.

    They irritate the mucous membranes, causing irritation and a burning sensation on the tissues they touch.

    The higher the MC content, the more strength it adds to the spray.

    Oleoresin Capsicum Percentage

    The oleoresin capsicum or OC percentage refers to the concentration of the contents within the canister.

    While it does affect the strength of a self-defense spray somehow, keep in mind that the effectiveness of the spray is heavily influenced by the MC, not the OC percentage.

    Therefore, a 15% OC weight will not necessarily be strong if the MC content is too low.


    Different types of pepper spray also have different spray patterns. As you can imagine, this could potentially affect the strength, effectivity, and duration of one canister.

    Here are the most common disbursement methods of pepper sprays and their characteristics.

    Stream Spray Pattern

    A stream spray pattern works just like a water pistol. It often has a longer reach and can provide a stronger impact on the attacker.

    However, if you are unable to aim it properly, this type of spray pattern will be ineffective.

    Additionally, pepper spray products that use this pattern tend to get used up rather quickly.

    Cone Spray Pattern

    A cone spray pattern covers a wider area than a stream spray pattern. Generally, this pattern has a 12-foot range of coverage with a width of up to two feet.

    However, keychain pepper sprays or other compact canisters that use this pattern may only reach up to six feet.

    One major disadvantage is that, in windy conditions, you might get sprayed with it as well.

    Fogger Spray Pattern

    Pepper spray products with a fogger spray pattern are almost always used for large crowds.

    Because of how far its spray range is, it is an effective incapacitating spray to disperse multiple animals and attackers.

    The effective range is also unaffected by windy conditions.

    Some of the largest and strongest pepper spray canisters that use this pattern have a 35-foot range. However, the fogger spray pattern is almost exclusively used on larger canisters.

    Foams Spray

    A foams spray is arguably the most effective tool to enhance your personal protection.

    There’s absolutely no chance of blowback, and its content will continue to accumulate once it reaches its target.

    Furthermore, if the attacker tries to wipe it off, the active ingredient will only deepen into the skin.

    The only drawback of this type of spray is that it often has a shorter range.

    What Is the Strongest Pepper Spray You Can Buy?

    Now that we know how to determine the strongest self-defense spray, let’s talk about which product will give you the best bang for your buck.

    We searched every corner of the world for self-defense products, and we found that the following items should be on your list of sprays to look for.

    1. Sabre Red Pepper Gel

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    The Sabre Red Pepper Gel Spray is one of the most popular self-defense products today.

    Even though it is significantly more expensive than the majority of their products, it is still one of Sabre’s best-selling sprays.

    It has a maximum of 18- to 20-foot stream spray range and uses gel spray instead of aerosol.

    The Sabre Red Pepper Gel Spray has little to no chance of blowback because the heavy chemical agents will not get easily dragged by the wind.

    However, the farthest it can go while maintaining the utmost accuracy is about 10 feet.

    It has an OC concentration of about 10%, the same as a standard pepper spray, and provides no less than 24 half-second bursts.

    This product from Sabre has an MC concentration of 1.33%, the same as the popular Sabre Red Crossfire canisters.

    This is the highest allowable concentration for civilian sprays.

    Unfortunately, it’s not a keychain pepper spray, and it also doesn’t have a clip. Instead, Sabre included a holster for added convenience when carrying it around.

    2. Fox Labs Mean Green

    The Fox Labs Mean Green Spray is another popular and best-selling personal defense spray for two particular reasons.

    Firstly, its high-heat spray is an effective deterrent to fend off attackers. In fact, one canister can produce up to 5.3 million Scoville Heat Units.

    Secondly, its strong formula is combined with a bright green dye, hence the name of this product.

    Of course, this dye is not to make the spray visually appealing. Instead, the remarkable industry minds at Fox Labs included this green dye to mark the attacker.

    This makes it significantly easier to identify the perpetrator during an investigation.

    Don’t worry; the green dye does not come off easily, whether it’s sprayed on the attacker’s clothes or skin.

    Additionally, this pepper spray product has an effective spray range of up to 15 feet. Its compact canister also makes it easier to fit in purses or small bags.

    Unfortunately, it is not a keychain or a belt holster pepper spray because it does not have any carrying option.

    3. Sabre Red Tactical Pepper Gel

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    The Sabre Red Pepper Gel Spray has a lot of features that make it a worthy contender for the strongest self-defense spray a civilian could buy.

    Firstly, the disbursement method uses gel, giving it a lesser chance of blowback and preventing it from hitting the wrong target.

    Secondly, it has an effective spray range of up to 18 feet, allowing you to escape dangerous situations more efficiently.

    As the name suggests, this Sabre Red Spray also has tactical characteristics.

    In fact, it is almost at the same level as the pepper spray products used in law enforcement agencies.

    This intense OC pepper spray is sure to give you peace of mind whenever you head outdoors because it also provides you with a keychain carrying option.

    4. Mace Brand Triple Action

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    Mace is an industry pioneer when it comes to pepper sprays. In fact, a lot of people use the brand name synonymous with this self-defense tool.

    Even though it is a keychain canister, it is packed with powerful lachrymatory agents that can send back any attacker.

    In a sense, it is a disguised spray because it includes a marking agent that the attacker won’t realize is on him unless the chemical is under UV light.

    Another notable characteristic of this spray is that upon releasing the capsicum oils and other capsaicin deterrents in the container of Mace, it also releases powerful tear gases that cause significant discomfort to the attacker.

    One drawback is that the tear gas might also be inhaled by the user, which is rather toxic and dangerous.

    5. Sabre Red 3-in-1 Pepper Spray

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    The Sabre Red 3-in-1 Pepper Spray is another noteworthy product from this brand.

    It is not the hottest spray out there because of its standard level of MC and OC. However, what makes it a strong pepper spray is the added component of tear gases.

    This makes this tear gas canister a useful tool for defense against animals and human attackers.

    Another reason the Sabre Red 3-in-1 Keychain Pepper Spray rose to the ranks of consumers options is the UV dye that marks an attacker without him or her realizing it.

    The combination of the concentrated capsicum, tear gas, and UV dye is what earned it the name three-in-one pepper spray.

    Additionally, this handheld canister offers hardcase options for extra durability. Though, you still have the usual keychain attachment for a more convenient carrying option.

    You can also combine it with Sabre’s quick release key ring, allowing you to detach the tool from your keychain in a matter of seconds.

    What To Consider When Buying Pepper Spray

    Aside from the strength, there are also quite a few factors you need to consider when purchasing pepper spray.

    All of the following considerations will significantly affect your use and experience with this self-defense tool, so pay close attention.


    Handheld pepper sprays range from a 17-gram canister to a 60-gram canister. These types of pepper spray often have an effective range of five to 25 feet.

    On the other hand, there are also self-defense sprays in the form of pistol guns, which are sometimes used by law enforcement officials.

    You have to be mindful of the size and shape of the pepper spray you are trying to purchase because this could affect how handy the product will be in an emergency.

    Large canisters may be difficult to fit in your pocket. That said, pistol-shaped pepper spray might be difficult to conceal or carry without getting weird looks.

    Potential Danger

    The next thing you need to figure out is what you are trying to protect yourself from.

    For instance, an average dog spray may not be as strong against humans. On the other hand, a human spray may not be as strong against bears.

    While they might induce the same effects, it’s best to go for a self-defense spray that specializes in the potential danger around you.

    • Get a bear pepper spray if you live in an area near the woods.
    • Get a human spray if you live in a dangerous neighborhood.
    • Get an insect spray if you just want to get rid of insects at home.

    All of these will have different levels of Scoville Heat Units, and they will work particularly better for what they are intended for.

    Carrying Option

    Self-defense sprays are necessary tools in emergencies. You want to be able to access them in a split second during an attack.

    That’s why you also want to consider what carrying options a specific pepper spray offers.

    Most compact-sized pepper sprays come in the form of keychain units. This allows you to clip the tool to your belt loop, bag, or other items you can easily access.

    However, if you choose a keychain pepper spray and attach it to your belt loop, make sure that it has a keyring breakaway mechanism.

    Otherwise, you’d have to fire it from your waist, which can affect your accuracy.

    There are also self-defense sprays that include a belt holster so that you can carry it on your pants.

    On the other hand, you can also try pepper sprays with an elastic Velcro strap so that you can wear the tool on your arms or ankles.

    Other Features

    You may also want to consider other important features like a safety mechanism that prevents accidental discharge.

    This avoids accidentally pressing the firing mechanism, reducing the risk of spraying it onto yourself or your other items.

    If you want to be more discreet about your defense spray, you can look for disguised sprays.

    Some of them come in the form of lipstick canisters, while others are flashlight-like units that make them less revealing.


    Lastly, you should also be familiar with the pepper spray laws of your local government.

    While all 50 states allow private citizens to possess, purchase, and use self-defense sprays, they have specific regulations about the matter.

    For instance, some states impose various canister size restrictions, limiting the maximum ounces or weight of the canister that one person may possess.

    Be sure to look for the laws on pepper spray in your state before purchasing one.

    Effects of Pepper Spray

    Now that you have a general idea about what the strongest pepper spray is, how it’s measured, and what other features you should consider, let’s talk about how it affects an individual.

    Here’s what will happen to an attacker if you use the hottest formula of pepper spray to get away from him or her.


    When sprayed onto the attacker’s eyes, pepper spray causes acute eye pain, preventing the attacker from opening his or her eyes.

    In some cases, you will find a type of self-defense spray that causes temporary blindness.

    Imagine the Scoville Heat Unit of a single piece of pepper, and then imagine cutting it open and rubbing it in someone’s eyes.

    That’s how painful it is to get pepper-sprayed in the eyes.


    When an attacker inhales the active ingredient of the pepper spray, his or her throat will immediately burn.

    This will cause gagging and dry coughing, preventing the attacker from speaking altogether.


    Once the inflammatory agents have reached the person’s lungs, he or she will find it difficult to breathe.

    The shortness of breath will leave the attacker gasping for air and can also lead to chest pains.


    Because of the intense chemicals and other agents in the formula, getting sprayed with this tool can cause various skin problems.

    The least of them would be rashes, but in some cases, people get blisters and even burns on their skin.


    If you don’t panic during an attack, you get the upper hand. You can turn the tables and cause the attacker to panic instead.

    When a single person experiences the things we’ve mentioned above all at once, this could prevent him or her from thinking clearly, allowing you the chance to escape.

    In some instances, people would even get unconscious because their bodies just can’t stand the effects of the chemicals of the self-defense spray.

    What To Do When Hit With the Strongest Pepper Spray

    Obviously, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a pepper spray.

    However, windy conditions or an accidental discharge can send the contents of a canister onto different parts of your body.

    That’s why it is also important that you know what to do when hit with pepper spray.

    Unfortunately, there’s no cure that could immediately remove the side effects of getting sprayed with this tool.

    Instead, you can only reduce the discomfort you feel by following our quick guide below.

    • The first thing you want to do is to move to an area far away from where the pepper or gas canister was discharged.

    You need to refresh your lungs, which means you have to stop inhaling the toxic ingredients of the spray.

    • If you were hit in the face, make sure you immediately wash your eyes with water. This could possibly wash the contaminants away from your eyes.

    If the burning sensation is too much to bear, you can try washing your eyes with cold water.

    • Under any circumstances, never use soap to wash the area around your eyes as doing so could further irritate the skin.
    • Do not rub the affected area because you will most likely transfer the contaminants to other parts of your body.
    • If lots of it was sprayed onto your clothes, remove them. Doing so could reduce the amount of contaminants in your surroundings, lessening the effects of the spray.

    Getting the Strongest Pepper Spray

    If you are still unsure what is the strongest pepper spray, you can study the label on the product.

    Look for the MC concentration; the higher this percentage is, the stronger the spray.

    On the other hand, you can also look for the Scoville Heat Unit or SHU indicator. High SHU marks mean that the pepper spray is strong.