Everyone is scrambling for face masks to protect themselves and it makes perfect sense. On one hand we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones and on the other, we don’t want to spread the illness either. At this point, if you are going to the store or other area with people, you really should be wearing a mask. Particles will float in the air and that is bad news for everyone.
The recent CDC guidance to wear face masks seems to be mainly aimed at capturing droplets from the wearer so as to not infect others. It’s not really aimed at protecting the wearer from inhaling. I would recommend you do some reading about what amazing people are figuring out in terms of making your own personal protective face masks using shop towels and other materials. In general, if you can see light readily through it, such as a basic T-shirt or bandanna, you really aren’t stopping anything. I’d like to help improve your odds and want to share some resources with you.
Buy the shop towels at stores such as home improvement, hardware, automotive and industrial supply stores. Blue shop towels are *not* regular kitchen towels. If you try to buy them online they will likely be insanely expensive. You will probably pay $3-4 from a store for a roll with 50 sheets. They often come in single rolls, doubles, six packs, 12 packs and boxes. Don’t go nuts and hoard them please.
The following are shop towelas and 1/16″ bungee/elastic cord for making masks at Amazon
The following is a great how-to video. By the way, the accordion folds help with fit and increase the surface area which will make breathing easier. The larger the surface area then the easier air flows.
By the way, there are tons and tons of designs as media and bloggers share advice. Google and read by all means – educate yourself. Always ask – does this make sense? Also remember that you need to both be able to inhale as well as exhale.
Quick test to see if your mask has any chance of helping you – Dr. Gady Abramson
Cleaning Face Masks For Re-Use
With face masks, assume they are contaminated when you remove them with your hands. Immediately wash your hands and do not rub your eyes, touch other surfaces, etc.
Now, you can disinfect these things and other PPE using an oven. Heat them to 70C/158F for 30 minutes. Be sure not to touch other surfaces around your oven. Clean all surfaces just to be safe.
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.
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 causeand 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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
The following are commercial pepper sprays if you can legally purchase them
I’m going to leverage my inner Forrest Gump – used cars are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get. In this case, it was our 2008 Toyota Highlander. I decided to check the air filter just in case and noticed both that the vacuum lines had cracked and that someone had done a “creative” fix on a 4mm vacuum port that had snapped off.
If there’s one thing I have learned with modern computerized cars – don’t mess with their sensors or vacuum lines. You can get odd random codes thrown, lose performance, fuel efficiency, etc. So, I knew this needed to be fixed. The big problem – the vacuum fitting was cast into the airbox!! By the way, the air box is the car part that holds the air filter in this case – the air filter housing is another way of thinking of the part.
Let me start by telling you the expensive and time consuming way – buy a replacement air box. Yeah, this is going to cost you a bundle. A OEM Toyota air box will run you $275-400, used is about $100-185 and aftermarket tends to be under $60-90 and maybe iffy quality. Then there is the labor to do the actual swap – it’s going to either take your time or you are going to pay a mechanic to do it and the cost is going to go up fast. There is an easier and faster way.
My Recommended Approach
The magic fraction for today is 5/32″. Why? Because 5/32″ is almost exactly 4mm. If we get a small brass, aluminum or stainless barbed 5/32″ hose fitting with a threaded rear, we can easily fix this. I live in a rural area and this isn’t something I can easily walk into a hardware store and find so I did some searching for NPT to 5/32″ hose barb and found both 1/16″ NPT and metric fittings plus some were brass, aluminum and mystery metal. I discounted anything plastic/nylon because I wanted a stronger fitting.
Another reason I went with 1/16″ NPT is that it can fill a pretty big hole all by itself up to about 0.31″ given the taper plus I could then use a 1/16″ to 1/8″ bushing adapter if I needed to go larger.
After much digging around using Google and Amazon, I opted for an Aeromotive #15630 hose fitting made from 6061-T6 aluminum that I did order off Amazon. There was a no-name generic brass one but no spec so I didn’t go with it. By the way, searching for fittings like this really shows the limitations of general search engines to find parts. I spent a ton of time filtering through tons and tons of search results that turned up the wrong products. What a headache.
The first thing to point out is that the molded vacuum fitting is above the air cleaner so you can safely work on the box without removing it from the vehicle! Any debris from drilling or sanding will land on the filter and you can vacuum it out later. If you have a used car, peak inside and make sure the air cleaner is there and intact.
If you have just the old busted remains of the hose fitting to contend with then Dremel or sand the area flat. You want the installed barb to be able to sit flat against the wall of the box.
Next, pick a drill bit that is just the same size as the tapered bottom of the thread. NPT thread is tapered so the bottom has a smaller diameter than the top. If the air box was steel, we would use a letter “C” drill bit to make a 0.242″ hole. Notice how this is slightly smaller than 1/4″ but I am betting most people do not have lettered drill bit sets so you pick a close size and run with it. We do want the hole slightly smaller in order to thread it. Because this is plastic, we are going to push forward with the metal adapter fitting while turning and let the thread on the adapter cut the thread into the plastic. We aren’t going to bother tapping it first. That’s right – don’t buy a tap to do this uness you are a tool junky and perfectionist, which is fine if you are – I get accused of that a lot.
I’d recommend you start with a bit smaller than 1/4″ where the bit is slightly smaller than the bottom of the adapter, drill the hole and see if you can press it in. If not, go to a bigger bit. If you mess up and have a slightly too big hole, all is not lost – read the “Well crap” section below 🙂
Let’s say that everything goes great and you can screw the fitting into the plastic – Once threaded in, it’s done. Just screw it in and quit. Don’t put too much torque or you can strip it. That works just fine unless the previous guy bubba’d it, which takes us to the next part of the story.
In my case, I had a box of chocolates moment. The previous owner or a mechanic had drilled the hole out and installed some small metal bushing that was hidden due to the white silicone on it. I have no idea what it was from. Once I discovered and removed it, the hole in the air box turned out to be just a tad bigger than the entire 1/16″ tapered thread. Argh… not what I wanted to deal with.
Okay, I wanted to get this job and had three options, go to the hardware store and try and find a 1/16 to 1/8″ bushing, install a 1/16″ NP threaded nut on the back to hold it in position, which I also did not have, or glue the hell out of it and call it even.
Because I am always working on cars and pressure systems due to Ronin’s Grips, did have a tube of black Permatex Optimum BlackGasket Maker that I could use. Being black, it wouldn’t be so glaringly obvious. By the way, I opted not to use epoxy due to the flexible plastic walls and expected vibrations that might break down the bond with time.
First, I scuffed the surface around the hole with 100 grit sand paper so the glue could get a better grab on the surface. The second thing I did was to spray brake cleaner on the area to remove any trace oils that might prevent a good bond.
I was wearing nitrile gloves and also sprayed brake cleaner on the fitting to make sure it was clean. Gloves both keep your hands clean and also prevent you from getting oils from your skin on the parts — assuming the gloves are clean of course. Having a clean surface makes a HUGE difference in terms of how well any glue is going to stick.
Next, I applied a bead around the top of the NPT thread of the fitting and pushed it into the hole. Since I was wearing nitrile gloves, I just took a finger and smoothed the glue out a bit and let it cure for about an hour or so. You want it cured enough to hold the adapter in place – you don’t need it fully cured yet. With warmer weather it will cure faster and in cold weather it my take a long time and need a hot light or something to warm it up above 70F to get things done. Depending on what I am working on, I try to get somewhere between 60-110F. The warmer it is, the faster it will cure but don’t burn it or melt the plastic either!
I then put a second layer of black gasket maker on and fanned it out to get a good grip and to securely hold the fitting. I then let this all cure overnight. I’ve learned long ago not to rush faster than what the adhesive’s manufacturer recommends or you are liable to ruin an otherwise good job.
So, once it was fully cured I then needed to change the cracked vacuum lines which are what I noticed in the first place.
4mm Vacuum Lines
What got me started on all this in the first place was noticing that two 4mm vacuum lines were very cracked where they slid onto their respective hose barbs. This happens as rubber ages and gets brittle so finding them wasn’t surprising.
Fixing this is easy. You just need either real 4mm vacuum hose or 5/32 vacuum hose. You can either go with one formulated from rubber or more expensive silicone. The advantage to the latter is that it ought to last longer.
Because we own a number of aging Toyotas, I bought an assortment bag of metric sized silicone vacuum hose of Amazon some time ago. It comes with 4mm x 82″, and the 52″ lengths of 6mm, 8mm, and 12mm. It was expensive but now I have an assortment for when I need to repair small lines such as this case.
Going this route saved us a ton hundreds of dollars and has held up just fine. I did this repair last fall and have not had a single problem. Yeah, the glue does make it a big of a bubba fix but it is revsersible and the fitting isn’t going to fall out. The black gasket maker has held the little barb in just fine and the hose is very supple and shows no wear at all. I hope this helps you out as well.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.