Difference Between Mace for Cooking and Ingredients In Pepper Spray

Often confused with each other, the mace that is used in cooking is not the same thing as the “mace” used in pepper spray.  The mace that is used for self defense is named after the ancient Greek weapon known as a “mace.”  Here is a description of both types of mace, to help clarify the significant differences.

Cooking Spices

The mace that is used in cooking and baking comes from nutmeg.  Mace is ground from the outer shell of the nutmeg and dried.  It is yellowish-brown in color.  Mace provides a sweet, spicy flavor that is described as a combination of cinnamon and pepper to many dishes, and is commonly used in soups, casseroles, cheese dishes, custards, potato dishes, and any other recipe that calls for a nutmeg type flavor.   Mace has a long shelf life when stored properly in a cool, dry area and in an airtight container.  This type of mace is not used as an ingredient in any self defense products.

Self Defense Products

Though commonly used as interchangeable terms, mace and pepper spray are not exactly the same thing.  Mace as a self defense weapon is more commonly known as tear gas, yet one of the most popular brands of pepper spray on the market carries this name.  Pepper spray, on the other hand, is not typically used for cooking.  Pepper spray is technically non-lethal, so ingesting it will not kill you.  But, although pepper spray is a derivative of extremely hot peppers that are technically edible (oleoresin capsicum), the pepper spray that is sold for self defense products is mixed with various aerosol propellants and other ingredients to make the spray formula.  Ingredients such as propylene glycol may not be things you want to ingest large quantities of. 

Risks of Cooking With Pepper Spray

Not only are there some chemical ingredients contained within pepper spray canisters (such as propellants and dyes) that you may not want to put in your food, but the process of cooking with pepper spray may be dangerous as well.  One possible downside is if the spray should get on you while you are cooking.  Most pepper spray canisters fire a stream or spray of over 4 feet, so you are at risk of having some splash on you, which could cause you serious discomfort—particularly if the pepper spray got into your eyes or mucous membranes.  Cooking with the spray may also cause fumes to filter throughout your home and could cause discomfort to anyone exposed.  Additionally, the propellants in the canister may be flammable, making it risky to spray while cooking.

Keeping It Straight

Don’t confuse the mace that is used for cooking with the mace or pepper spray that is used for self defense.  This is a mistake that you don’t want to make.  While it won’t kill you to ingest pepper spray, it could cause you some serious discomfort and possibly make you temporarily ill.  Similarly, using the spice mace as a self defense product will be entirely ineffective.  Common sense should prevail