Difference between Mace and Pepper Spray

By: | Updated: Nov-18, 2017
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More and more people are interested in procuring a self-defense weapon. Now, since a gun might seem too extreme and it is a really bad idea to use one unless you are trained for it, mace and pepper spray represent a good alternative. They generally render the assailant helpless by causing intense pain. You could even say that these are ethical weapons, as the person makes a full recovery after a few hours. So, which is which and what should you choose?

Summary Table

Mace Pepper Spray
Is a brand of non-lethal weapons Is the name of a non-lethal weapon
Can be in the form of sprays or gels Is a spray
Contains 1% tear gas in a volatile carrier base Contains OC (a hot pepper extract) in an oily carrier base
Has more immediate crippling effects Is more difficult to wash off on account of the oily base


Mace Brand Spray
Mace Brand Spray

Mace is a brand of non-lethal self-defense weapons. This means that they sell a variety of products that stop attackers, in the form of sprays or gels. They work by spraying in an assailant’s face. The spray is a substance that immediately affects the tissues by causing intense pain and rendering them unable to perform any other action.

Mace is an aerosol irritant intended to be sprayed at the eyes of the attacker. It contains 1% tear gas in a volatile carrier base that causes an unbearable burning sensation of the eyes. The skin around the eyes is just as affected, and so are the nasal and mouth cavities, if the product is inhaled. What is more, the product is designed to have a rekindling property. This means that a potential attacker cannot simply wash his face clean then continue in his attack. With some products, the water reignites the burning sensation. Large quantities are necessary to calm the pain, therefore, an affected person can only focus on the task at hand.

Any assailant is rendered vulnerable. If the spray also enters the airways, he will have difficulties breathing. Chasing a victim becomes impossible.

A woman using a pepper spray on an attacker
A woman using a pepper spray on an attacker

Pepper spray is a non-lethal self-defense weapon whose main ingredient is oleoresin caspicum (OC), a substance derived from hot peppers. The innovative part of it is that it is placed in an oily carrier base, making it difficult to wash off only with water, even in abundance. It usually needs to be washed off with mild soap, detergent, or Vaseline. Also, some types of pepper spray contain a UV dye which can be used to identify the attacker later.

The person sprayed will experience a burning sensation of the eyes and the skin on the face, will have difficulties breathing, and will have a runny nose, on account of the hot pepper extract.

An interesting fact about pepper spray is that it is said to be more efficient on people who are mentally ill or under the influence of alcoholic beverages. This is not a certainty, though, since different people react to these sprays differently. People with mental illnesses or whose mental processes are impaired by alcohol and drugs, might not have the same reaction to protect themselves when they are under attack.

Mace vs Pepper Spray

So what is the difference between mace and pepper spray?

Mace has 1% tear gas in a volatile carrier base, whereas pepper spray has OC (oleoresin capiscum), a hot pepper extract in an oil carrier base. The difference in how they affect a person is that Mace has a more crippling effect at first, whereas the oily base of the pepper spray makes it more difficult to wash off in the long run.

There is a debate on which product is more effective in the case of people who are mentally ill or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Some people say it’s Mace, others say it’s pepper spray. In reality, the substances affect different people in different ways and it is difficult to tell how a person will react.

Also, Mace is a brand of self-defense weapons, whereas pepper spray is the generic name of the product.

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