Having pepper spray is wise in today’s reckless times where potential attackers are lurking around every corner. Learning how to use pepper spray and how to store pepper spray is very important to your success with defense products. However, few experts talk much about how to dispose of expired or used pepper spray cans and the proper steps one should take to get ride of expired or used pepper spray cans. Pepper spray is not something you can simply throw in the trash or recycling bin. There are specific steps you should take to dispose of it properly, so it won’t harm others or seep into your soil or water supply.

Things to know about pepper spray disposal:

1) Never incinerate.

2) Be sure to empty the container before disposing of it. To do this, press the valve and release all contents and pressure. Be sure to stand upwind when doing this so you won’t harm yourself in the process. Follow the same precautions you would if you were testing your pepper spray container to ensure its effectiveness.

3) Talk to your city about how they prefer you dispose of the empty container. Each city has a different set of steps or protocol for this type of waste disposal. Sometimes empty aerosol cans (such as a pepper spray can) will be permitted to be disposed of in a normal manner.

4) If you don’t empty the pepper spray container, the item will most likely be considered universal waste (which is a hazardous waste). Many times a city’s landfill will collect this type of waste, charging a small or no disposal fee.

5) Most waste disposal facilities require your product have its original cap on, so be sure you keep the cap on the pepper spray can. If the product is leaking, put it in a plastic container with a lid that fits tight. When hauling it to the waste disposal location, be sure to keep it in the bed of your truck or another well ventilated area. Be sure to call ahead to ensure you’ve followed the proper rules of disposal before going to the waste disposal location. Also be sure to ask about prices for disposal, just in case the facility charges.

6) If you get the pepper spray on your skin or clothing while emptying it or transporting a leaking canister, don’t panic. Simply remove your clothing as soon as possible and refrain from touching your face. Wash your hands with soap immediately and any other body parts that might have been exposed to the spray. If you are feeling the effects of the spray on your skin, you can use milk or a paste of baking soda on your skin to help cool the sting.

After you’ve disposed of your pepper spray, be sure you have a new canister available for your use.