Mace vs. Pepper Spray

The Basics - Mace and pepper spray are two DIFFERENT self defense products: 

  • Traditional chemical mace (CN) is classified as an irritant and is similar to tear gas.
  • Pepper spray is classified as an inflammatory agent and will immediately incapacitate an assailant.
  • Chemical mace (CN, CS) may not affect on criminals under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, pepper spray will take down and cause temporary pain to those under the influence.
  • Unlike pepper spray, chemical mace WILL NOT cause inflammation of the capillaries of the eyes and skin causing temporary blindness, nausea, breathing difficulties and an intense burning sensation.
  • Today "Mace" is most accurately described as brand name associated with self defense products (Mace ® Brand), including pepper spray.

More Information About Differences
between Mace vs. Pepper Spray vs. Tear Gas

If you're not sure about the differences between chemical mace, Mace ® Brand, tear gas and pepper spray, you're not alone. They are both used in warfare, police activities and individual self defense strategies. They both temporarily incapacitate those who encounter them. They are both, depending on where you live (see states with restrictions), restricted substances. But there are several differences you need to be aware of before making a purchase.

What is traditional Mace of the past?
The original chemical mace (CN) was taken off the market over many years ago after 1,000’s of officers were injured in the line of duty. Unfortunately, mace of the past was ineffective on those under the influence of alcohol, drugs or psychotics. This would most likely be the majority of individuals that you would be forced to use the product on.

What is pepper spray? What does it do?
A 1-second blast of pepper spray will render an individual incapacitated for 15 minutes to over an hour. Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent it will IMMEDIATELY: induce coughing, choking, nausea, it will dilates the capillaries of the eyes causing temporary blindness, the mucous membranes will swell to the point of cutting off all but life support breathing, causes intense burning and an assailant to be temporarily incapacitated. Remember, Mace ® Brand is also a trusted manufacturer of today’s pepper spray that should not be confused with the chemical mace of the past.

What’s the difference between “Mace® Brand” and “mace”?
You may hear the terms “mace”, “pepper spray” and “tear gas” used synonymously, but they are indeed different.  Chemical “mace” was first developed in the 60’s with an active ingredient called phenacyl chloride (CN).   Today “mace” is first and foremost a trademarked, brand name (Mace® Brand) for a line of trusted self defense products, including oleoresin capsicum (OC) pepper spray and/or orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS) tear gas. 

“Mace” is also a common cooking spice derived from nutmeg.  It’s considered a flavor mix between cinnamon and pepper or a more extreme version of nutmeg.  It is not related to the hot peppers or chemicals found in CS tear gas of OC pepper spray.

Tear gas vs. pepper spray
Tear gas operates differently from pepper spray. It is composed of a white crystal suspended in a delivery medium such as sec-butanol, along with various other chemicals. The effects of tear gas are immediate and usually extremely painful: the eyes shut, water and burn; the nose and mouth feel like they're afire; the “maced” one coughs and chokes as his airways attempt to close against the chemical.

Pepper spray DOES affect individuals under the influence, but Mace and tear gas don't
Although the original (CN) formula chemical mace is highly effective against most people, when PCP became a serious problem on the streets, law enforcement personnel discovered that someone who's out of his mind on drugs may not feel the effect of chemical mace enough to be incapacitated. Similarly, people who are violent and insane may not be stopped by tear gas. Police found that people who were enraged to the point of insanity or people whose bodies had ceased to comprehend pain, such as those on PCP, weren't adequately affected by tear gas. OC pepper spray, however, has proven effective against people on drugs, insanely violent or seemingly impervious to other types of pain. Pepper spray wears off slower than tear gas; its oily effects create long lasting discomfort, and it's difficult to wash away.

Tear gas is regulated by some countries, states and individual cities. Some countries allow no tear gas, others only allow police or military use, and some allow civilian use for self-defense. In the U.S., regulations vary widely by state, and within the state, there may be different regulations concerning use by county or city. In some places, tear gas is not allowed, but pepper spray is. Some states will not allow combined pepper and tear gas sprays. Before buying either tear gas or pepper spray, it's the individual's responsibility to learn the state and city ordinances about their sale, possession and use.



Using pepper spray products to keep you safer
If personal use is allowed in your state, it's also important to learn the right way to use any spray. If you are a first time pepper spray owner consider one of our pepper spray training packs that includes an instructional booklet, 1 practice spray and 1 active pepper spray. Personal safety is one reason: the most effective self defense spray in the world can't do you any good if you don't have it when you need it, don't aim it properly, or use it incorrectly. Not only that: it isn't unheard of for a would-be criminal to attempt to sue the would-be victim over the use of self-defense spray. If you have obeyed the laws of your local, county, state governments you cannot be sued if you used your defense spray for self-defense. Get the training and education you need to make your spray work for you.