How To Use Pepper Spray

Pepper Spray is an affordable and easily acquired personal defense weapon. Having effective and convenient pepper spray puts us off to a good start, but we need to know how to use the tool we are carrying in order to actually experience an increase in safety.

how to use pepper spray

Read the instructions.

The directions provide information on first aid, legalities, safety and storage – all good to know. Most importantly it will include the range of effective use, and further is not necessarily better. Most pepper spray is effective from 6-12 feet. Know what that looks like; measure it out.


how to use pepper spray

Know when to use.

Pay attention to your surroundings; respect your instincts. The appropriate distance for use is further than most realize. When someone doesn’t look or feel right, if you can’t avoid them, call them out. Put out your arm in a stop gesture. Yell “Stop!” as loud as you can. If they continue towards you that’s not normal and it’s time to take action.


how to use pepper spray

Practice using it.

Most pepper sprays have a safety to avoid accidental discharge. Although simple and easy to use, during the rush of adrenaline mid attack is not the time to start trying to figure it out. Practice taking it out from where you keep it, disengaging the safety and actually using the spray. Note that if not used properly there is a risk of spraying yourself – like if used in too close of range or on a windy day.


how to use pepper spray

Keep it accessible.

It’s best to keep it in a consistent and secure place so you always know where it is. Rather than loose inside a bag, clip it inside a pocket in the bag. Clip it on a belt loop. Wear it. If you catch yourself thinking you’re glad you have it, that’s when it needs to be in hand and ready for use.

how to use pepper spray


Keep it a surprise.

To be most effective it needs to be sprayed in the eyes, nose or mouth. If you hold it up and threaten to use it, the attacker can shield themselves, avoid the spray and still close in. Once the attacker is closer than 6 ft we throw it so the item we carry for safety is not used against us.


how to use pepper spray

Be willing to use it.

If you don’t think you would spray someone, find an alternative. As much as we would like to believe we will feel differently if in danger, it’s not likely. You know right now whether or not you are willing to spray a person with pepper spray. If not, there are other options for safety; find one you are willing to use.


If pepper spray is for you, local pepper spray training is strongly suggested. Be sure the class will cover legal use and offer a way to practice using it – possibly with water canisters. If local training is not an option, buy more than one canister and make a point to work on the above.

Remember, the tools we choose are only as effective as our training.

Thank you to Carrie from for the great article