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Mace vs. Pepper Spray vs. Tear Gas: How to select a Personal Defense Spray

Selecting a personal defense spray can be difficult. Before we get into the specifics you should know that many personal defense spray companies use the word “mace” in their brand’s title. For example, at we sell “Mace Brand”, but none of their products have mace in them. Most have a combination of pepper spray, tear gas and some type of dye. 


Mace irritates human eyes and is very close to tear gas.  Actual mace, not the brand name, was taken off the market about 15 years ago after police officers found out that it was ineffective against humans under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The name Mace is still the most common term used for personal defense sprays, despite it not actually having “mace” in the contents.

Pepper Spray

Pepper Spray is an inflammatory agent that will incapacitate a person for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Pepper Spray causes coughing, choking, nausea, dilation of the capillaries causing temporary blindness, swelling of the mucus membranes causing trouble breathing and burning of the eyes! 

Many of the personal defense sprays on the market today have pepper spray in their mix or only contain pepper spray, because it is effective against anyone, including people under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Tear Gas

Tear Gas’ effects are immediate and very powerful.  It is comprised of white crystals suspended in a delivery medium, usually sec-butanol along with various other chemicals.  Tear Gas causes the eyes to immediately shut and start to tear up along with repeated coughing to try to protect against the extreme burning of the eyes and mouth.

Which “Mace” or Personal Defense Spray should I buy?

While we carry a wide variety of products to meet almost anyone’s needs, the most effective and popular sprays are the ones that combine the benefits of pepper spray and tear gas.  Pepper Spray works against people under the influence of drugs and alcohol and incapacitates individuals for up to 1 hour.  Tear Gas has a stronger, quicker effect.  Combined they provide a very powerful mixture. 

Most sprays also include a dye or gel.  The main purpose of this is to allow the user to see where they are spraying the product, improving accuracy. We also carry a pepper gel which clumps up and sticks to the eyes, increasing the effects of the spray.

If you’re looking for a general all purpose spray I would recommend the Triple Action Pepper Spray.  If you looking for something with a more specific purpose we have a jogger pepper spray, a muzzle spray, and a larger home mace spray.  Plus for those that don’t feel comfortable with a spray or want additional protection we do carry a screecher alarm, a flasher light with arm band for joggers and an emergency whistle.

A couple of final points

All mace or personal defense sprays do have a shelf life.  When you purchase the product it will have an expiration date listed, which is generally about 2 years.  Finally, the sale of certain types of pepper sprays and other personal defense sprays are restricted in a few states.  These states are shown in each of our product listings.

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