How to Make Homemade Pepper Spray: A Step-by-Step Guide

Is pepper spray in your arsenal of self-defense tools? If not, learn how to make it so that you can protect yourself in an emergency situation.

Pepper spray makes for the perfect non-lethal weapon that can be quickly drawn from your pocket or bag need the occasion arise. You can usually find store-bought pepper spray online and at most sporting goods stores, firearm dealers, and even major retailers like Walmart. Unfortunately, a trip to Wally World may be out of the question if a true emergency occurs.

Maybe you live on the ‘bad’ side of town and want to avoid being mugged. Or perhaps you just want to master another key prepper skill so that you know how to ward off unhinged attackers in the event of a national economic collapse. Either way, knowing how to make your own mace can give you an advantage when face-to-face with danger.

If you have ever been pepper-sprayed, you know how painful it can be. According to the Vision Eye Institute, getting pepper spray in the eyes causes immediate and uncontrollable tearing, stinging, redness, temporary blindness, and the involuntary closing of the eyelids.

Mace can also cause intense redness and burning if the spray comes into direct contact with the skin. Inhalation of pepper spray can result in irritation of the respiratory tract, often causing sneezing, coughing, and an uncomfortable feeling like you can’t catch your breath.

If mace is ingested, the person may also experience nausea and vomiting.

DIY Pepper Spray Instructions

While pepper spray should not be used on someone unless absolutely necessary, it can be very effective in the right situation. The active ingredient found in most pepper sprays is a chemical compound known as capsaicin. This irritant produces a burning sensation in any tissue in which it comes into contact with.

In store-bought mace, capsaicin is combined with oil and contained in a pressurized canister. The pressurization of the canister allows the solution to shoot forward when the nozzle is pressed. Depending on the type of nozzle used, pepper spray may emit from the canister in a fine mist or a heavy stream of liquid.

While most people don’t just have concentrated capsaicin laying around their house, they do usually have access to chili peppers. Capsaicin is an active component of chili peppers. It is the ingredient in chili peppers that make them taste hot and spicy.

When dried chili peppers are used in homemade pepper spray, the peppers will induce the same side effects of store-bought spray, such as pain, tears, and temporary blindness.

Step 1: Choosing Your Peppers

Not all chili peppers are made equal. For the best effect, it is important to choose your chili peppers wisely. The level of heat that a chili pepper emits is measured in Scoville Units.

On the Scoville heat scale, a normal bell pepper has zero Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), the typical cayenne pepper has between 30,000 and 50,000 SHUs, and a Bhut Jolokia, or “Ghost Pepper,” has between 800,000 and 1,001,300 SHUs.

On the top of the list for hottest peppers is the Carolina Reaper, coming in at 2,200,000 SHUs.

Standard pepper spray has an average SHU measurement of between 2,000,000 and 5,300,000. To make effective homemade pepper spray, you will need to choose chili peppers that have a minimum of 2,000,000 SHUs.

For a standard bottle of mace, you will need about 6 to 12 chili peppers. Remember that the more chili peppers you use, the higher the amount of capsaicin your pepper spray will contain which makes the spray stronger.

Step 2: Drying Your Chili Peppers

Before they can be used as an ingredient in your homemade pepper spray, you will need to dry your hot peppers. There are several ways this can be accomplished.

The first method of drying is simple but can take up to one to two weeks. It involves tying twine or a strong to the peppers and hanging them in an area that receives plenty of airflow and sunlight. You will want to dry the peppers whole. While this can take a little longer, drying them whole will help prevent them from molding or rotting before they are completely dry.

If you want to make your homemade mace fast, you will need to use an oven or dehydrator. Before putting the peppers in a dehydrator, remove the stems and slice the chili peppers into rings.

Although you can leave peppers whole to dehydrate, it will take them much longer to dry. Be sure to wear gloves when handling hot peppers to avoid burning your skin. Spread out the peppers on the dehydrator tray and turn on the machine to 135 degrees. Depending on the thickness of the pepper, it can take between five to ten hours or more to dry.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can also dry your chili peppers in an oven. Simply slice up your peppers and place them on a baking sheet with the seed sides up.

Bake at 125 degrees Fahrenheit and rotate them around the tray every hour or so. It can take several hours for the peppers to dry out depending on how many you have and the size of the slices. Watch the peppers closely as they bake to prevent them from burning.

Step 3: Grinding Up the Peppers

Once your chili peppers are completely dried, you will want to grind them up. With the stems removed, mince them up as fine as possible. To quicken this process, use a piece of machinery such as a food processor.

Use caution during the mincing process as you do not want to lose any of the juice from the chili peppers.

While not essential, you can choose to add other ingredients to your peppers during this step. Black tabletop pepper can be an effective addition to a homemade pepper spray. Just a tablespoon of black pepper can induce a coughing effect. You may also want to add a couple tablespoons of minced garlic.

Step 4: Adding the Final Ingredient

The final ingredient in a homemade pepper spray is a component used to deliver the spray to your target. While this can be a number of ingredients, the most commonly used options include isopropyl rubbing alcohol or vinegar. You will need to add approximately two cups of either liquid to the chili pepper mixture.

Step 5: Straining Your Concoction

Even after you have thoroughly mashed up your pepper spray concoction, there may still be small chunks of pepper or garlic left. You don’t want these larger pieces in your homemade pepper spray.

Using a sieve, push the mash of ingredients through the mesh to strain out the larger pieces. Once strained, put your mixture into the refrigerator to sit for 24 to 48 hours.

Once the homemade pepper spray has been thoroughly cooled in the fridge, preferably for a night or two, it can be added to a bottle or jar.

However, before adding the mixture to the jar you will want to strain it one last time. Insert a funnel into the container of your choice and secure a cheesecloth over the mouth of the funnel. Next, slowly pour the pepper spray mixture through the cheesecloth and into the jar.

Step 6: Using Your Homemade Spray

Homemade pepper spray should be stored in a cool place like a refrigerator. It usually lasts about two to three months before it starts to lose its effectiveness. To make the spray able to reach your target, you will need to choose a spray bottle that shoots out a direct and fairly concentrated stream of liquid.

To avoid having to get too close to your attacker, try to find a bottle that is able to spray at least five to ten feet away. You will want to avoid misting bottles if possible as a strong wind can cause the mist to travel backwards into your own eyes. The force of the bottle should be strong enough to prevent it from harming your face.

When using your homemade pepper spray on an attacker, hold the bottle firmly in your hand with your thumb (not your index finger) on the trigger. This will allow you to maintain better control over the bottle. When delivering the stream of pepper spray, keep your arm slightly bent which will make it easier to resist your attacker if he tries to grab your arm.

When your homemade pepper spray is not in use, cover the button with a safety cap to prevent it from accidentally releasing pepper spray. If you are ever forced to use the pepper spray, make sure that the nozzle is pointing in the right direction and that you are aiming for the face. Spraying your attacker in the eyes, mouth, or nose will give you the best chance at getting away while your attacker is subdued.

Know that while homemade pepper spray is rarely ever as effective as the real thing, it can be an affordable alternative that can be made in your own kitchen. Remember, having homemade pepper spray is better than not having anything to protect yourself when in an emergency.

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