Category Archives: Self and Home Defense

Research On Home Made Pepper Spray – Tread Carefully. Something Reliable and Effective Is Not As Easy As You May Think.

Up front, please let me stress that this post if for informational purposes only. The author will not be liable if you decide to attempt to make or use pepper spray. You assume all liability going forward.

Please abide by all laws and regulations in your area – it is illegal to possess pepper spray in some places let alone use it.

Last but not least, please follow safe practices if you choose to attempt making pepper spray.

Pepper spray irritates the eyes, lungs and skin. The intent is to cause extreme temporary discomfort and allow the defender a chance to get away or the police officer to more easily restrain a subject. The reason I researched and wrote this post is that a number of people are worried about personal and family safety and how to ward off attackers given the craziness with people panicking over COVID-19.

For one reason or another, not everyone can buy a firearm and. thanks to government regulation, many law abiding citizens can’t even purchase pepper spray. Now, machining a firearm and its costs are beyond many but making pepper spray is something people might want to consider but there are a whole lot of potential issues I want you to think through before you make some home brew and pour it in a spray bottle.

What is pepper spray anyways?

As you can guess from the name, the main ingredient is technically known as oleresin capsicum (OC) is derived from peppers. OC is an oily organic resin obtained from finely ground chili powder where the capsaicin of the pepper is removed using an alcohol – typically ispropyl or ethanol. The capsaicin is most concentrated in the parts of the pepper that hold the seeds and the rest of the pepper to a lesser extent.

The following video does a great job explaining how pepper spray affects the human body and how it is made:

How do you make a pepper spray?

Do not rub your eyes and be careful breathing any airborne powders or liquids. I’d recommend wearing nitrile gloves, eye protection and a dust mask – even a basic nuisance dust one.

Please abide by all laws and regulations in your area and follow safe practices if you choose to attempt making pepper spray.

Let me tell you up front that I am not incredibly impressed by anything I have read or watched. Do you research and be very, very careful.

The “heat” of pepper varieties is measured by the Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The SHU value of a given pepper is measuring the concentration of capsaicinoids, which is premoninantly capsaicin – the part of the pepper we need. So, the higher the Scoville rating, the hotter the pepper is and the stronger the pepper spray will be.

The above is a Scoville Scale with popular peppers rated. You can see that Cayenne is in the middle with some god awful hot ones at the top.

Note – Focus on the peppers not some of the weird home brews folks are making where they are adding in other ingredients because they seem to be irritants based on their own past experience – for example, people adding salt, black pepper and even curry.

Going back to peppers, bear in mind that commercial pepper sprays range from 2-5.3 million SHU. Just because you think Cayenne pepper (30-50,000 SHU) or a Jalapeno (2,500-8,000 SHU) is hot does not mean it is adequate. You need to be thinking about the hottest peppers you can find and using them. Let me give you specifics of the 10 hottest peppers

Safety comment – you do need to realize pepper sprays made by the hot peppers over 80,000 SHU are dangerous and may cause permanent damage to eyes, etc. You better not spray this hot stuff on anyone without real good cause and be extra careful working with them!

With the god awful hot peppers, I have no idea how you can safely test your concoction. Honestly, at some point of capsaicin concentration, you are going to cause chemical burns. If you are trying to make liquid hell, you have some very dangerous stuff going on. Please don’t test it on other people, pets, animals, etc.

First extraction video

This gentleman does a good job showing you how to extract the the capsaicin that we need. Note, he uses acetone but I’d recommend an alcohol as it is less volatile and doesn’t dissolve anywhere near as many varieties of plastics as acetone does. There’s solid guidance other than that.

Video Two – The author makes and tests his pepper spray

This fellow both made his own pepper spray and then tests it while reporting the results. Notice how he points out the delay — keep that in mind.

Some mistakes I noticed during my research

When you look around on Youtube and reading blog posts, there are a lot of fundamental mistakes that people make that I want you to be aware of:

  • Your goal is to make a concentrate – start with the hottest pepper you can find
  • You need to extract the capsaicin so grind up the pepper – don’t just add flakes.
  • Focus on the pepper!! Folks adding in other stuff may sound cool but I am not convinced curry powder, salt, black pepper, etc. will help. One fellow even added in a pain killer (lidocain) for reasons I can’t begin to fathom.
  • Use a ton of powder/ground pepper. You want to make a concentrate and not something really diluted. Now is not the time to go cheap.
  • Use alcohol and not acetone unless you know your plastic can handle it – many household/cheap plastics can’t.
  • Allow the alcohol time to dissolve the capsaicins from the peppers. Use a sealed container and give it at least 12 hours to a day while shaking or stirring periodically. A sealed container makes the most sense to me unless you want the solvent to evaporate off and make a concentrate, which is a legitimate consideration.
  • You definitely need to strain the resulting mixture. Any type of sprayer will be at risk of clogging if there are solids in the liquid. The folks with a stew of materials floating around in their dispensers are at risk of a clog just when they need the spray the most. I was really surprised at the number of authors who had dispensers with solid remnants floating around.
  • Nobody seems to know how long this stuff will last – 3 months might be a starting assumption. It’s not indefinite.

Delivery mechanism considerations

I’ve seen everything from squeeze bottles, to squirt guns to home made single shot stream sprayers. Consider the following:

  • whatever you select needs to be leak proof or you will have an awful mess.
  • You don’t want it accidentally going off in your purse or pocket … or you will have an awful mess.
  • If you do a charged can of some type – ensure the propellant doesn’t slowly leak out and/or have a means to recharge it. Even commercial units will slowly lose their propellant charge.
  • Remember to strain the liquid you’re going to use or floating solids will likely clog up your device — and probably when you need the spray the most. Seriously, it blew my mind how few did this.
  • You need to test to see how far the liquid can travel. In general you want a stream and not a fog both to concentrate delivery plus you do not want the person near you! Also, bear in mind that a mist will float around and land on others – potentially even yourself.

More resources

How to treat pepper spray / how to decontaminate

Okay folks, the following is so you know what to do if you get this stuff on you. The short answer is saline, non-mint antacid in distilled water in a 50/50 mix placed in a squeeze bottle to neutralize the chemical or some form of water and mild soap.

This is not magic or the movies – Beware

Reality is not like the movies – especially with home grown pepper sprays. Expect attackers to respond differently to pepper spray.. Some will immediately lose visibility and the will to fight, some may have a delay before the react and some will keep fighting no matter what due to drugs or whatever. Do not expect an attacker to magically drop to the ground.

The best way to win a fight is avoid the situation – don’t walk alone, avoid dark allies, stay alert, and so forth. View this stuff as a last resort or part of a layered defense that you have thought about.

Conclusion

Someone casually making pepper spray without a lot of thought put into it will likely have very mixed unsafe unreliable results. I didn’t find one video or blog post that I felt addressed my concerns for reliability so I collected the above for you to consider. If you can buy commercial pepper spray, I would highly recommend you do so.

The information presented here is for people who need protection and home-made pepper spray might be their last option. Do your research, plan and build with safety in mind. Last comment, don’t rely solely on pepper spray – consider other things like loud personal alarms, clubs, saps, fake money clips, take a self-defense class, etc.

Again, please, please be safe if you make anything discussed here. Also, be aware of any laws and regulations that are applicable. In some locales, pepper spray is treated virtually the same as a firearm and civilian use is strictly prohibited.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.


The following are commercial pepper sprays if you can legally purchase them


Use Wired and Solar Lights To Improve Home Security

Defending your home and family takes some thought. In general. the more layers of defense you add, the lower your risk is. For example, lights, security alarm, security cameras, dogs, radio running, etc. You can’t eliminate risk but you can certainly lower it to a level you judge as acceptable. An easy deterrent for you to add or improve is outdoor lighting and the reason is simple – people with malicious intents prefer the shadows and don’t want to be lit up for everyone to see.

Hard Wired Lights

When I say “hard wired”, I am talking about lights that are connected to the premises electrical power, such as 120 volts AC in the US. Most folks have at least porch lights and perhaps garage lights. Run them. These are deterrents – if people up to no good see a well lit home, it reduces their interest. Note that I did not say it makes 100% of them skip your home but the cost is trivial these days. If you are worried about cost, install LED bulbs – they seriously cut down power use. It used to be that LED bulbs cost a fortune but you can now routinely find them on sales for $1-2/ea.

Don’t want to run your lights all the time – 24×7? Granted you are wasting money and the lights running may signal “nobody is home”. We do not run out lights around the clock for both reasons – just dusk to dawn.

There are light sensors that simply screw in between the light and the lamp receptacle. Want timers? You can go with timers that flip the switch, timers that replace the switch and even smart programmable switches that connect to your WiFi and you can load schedules, etc. There are even programmable lights that have speakers in them to extend smart home sound systems — remember that an LED light element is going to last a long, long time all things being equal so it’s not as weird as it may sound.

Solar Lights

If you look at your property, odds are there are a lot of dark spots at night – we do. Running power to these areas wasn’t realistic but at the same time I wondered what I could do to light some of them up strategically. The short answer is solar security lights – not just the very dim walkway lights you see in garden centers. These lights range from dim to incredibly bright.

It turns out there are a ton of different model lights that can turn on dusk to dawn (or until the battery drains) or have a motion sensor that trips for some period of time (say 10-30 seconds) and then reset. You have options in terms of the brightness, how broad of an area is lit up, and so forth. I have a variety now.

You know what, these are pretty cool. The lights on the house are on all the time but these motion activated security lights not only give you light when you move around at night but they also serve like tripwires – a person (or deer) goes by and the light comes on startling them and they take off.

Here are some of the lights that I use. They all have motion sensors and have survived at least one Michigan winter including the -20F cold spell we had.

To the left you see a real bright solar security light with the motion sensor up top. A nice thing about this model is that long charging cord from the solar panel to the light. The side of the house where the light is located is in the shade. The side of the house where the panel is gets afternoon sun and recharges. This unit is about 3-4 years old and works great. You can see the garage light above and to the right of the solar panel. It is a dusk-to-dawn model. It has compact fluorescent bulbs currently but when they fail, I will replace them with LEDs.
You can see the small solar light just above the split in the doors. It’s small but does a great job – the solar panel is in the top of the unit. This Baxia BL-SL-101 light has a motion sensor, 28 LEDs, 400 lumen and comes in a four pack. This is one of my go-to lights when I just need a medium amount of light.
This is a Lemontek unit with 62 LEDs and the thing kicks out 2,000 lumen. It has a number of settings including dusk to dawn and motion sensor. We have a number of these and they do a great job. It is one of the models I use when I want a lot of light. You’ll notice a Baxia light back in the recessed area. The Lemontek covers a very broad area and the little one is just for the gate.
Here’s an example of one of our Baxia lights set up in a dark area of our yard. It has started a ton of deer when it has turned on unexpectedly at night due to its motion sensor.
This is an Aootek solar light with 48 LEDs, broad 180 degree illumination thanks to the angled panels, and while they don’t advertise the lumen (brightness), I can tell you it kicks out a lot of light.
This is a 4 year old Hallomall light. They stopped selling these when they introduced a new design so I switched to the Baxia brand. These came in a three pack and all still work. They sell other models that I have not tried.

The cheapest place I have found to buy these is Amazon and I read the reviews. Some have a ton of legitimate reviews and others have none at all – go with the model with more good reviews as opposed to fewer and taking a gamble. If you get a piece of junk, Amazon does have really good customer service but treat that as your safety net and try to buy the best you can. Note, some lights are sold individually and others come in 2, 4 or even larger quantity packages and it pays to do the math and see what is cheaper given the lights you need.

Solar lights do need sunlight to recharge so factor that into your plans. Also, they use batteries. I haven’t needed to open one up yet to replace them but I suspect some of them I will be able to replace the battery and others I will just need to replace the light due to age and oxidation of the solar panel and lens over the LEDs.

Smart Home Systems

Another category of lighting is taking off and those are the ones that are linked to smart home systems such as the Amazon Alexa. You can use voice control to turn on and off lights, set timers and much more through connected switches, outlets and other accessories. We use an Alexa in the kitchen and have a few Dots in other rooms. They are really handy once you get used to them.

Summary

Light up your property to deter vandals, burglars and trespassers. You have so many options using lights running off AC power to the tons and tons of options using solar. I use the AC light so people can see the area around the house is lit up and then I use solar lights to trip as needed and light up dark areas. Look at your property and consider how you might combine them with other security elements to reduce your risks.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.


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