Tag Archives: Self 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


The Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X 3500 Lumen Light IS a Beast On Your Side – Part 2 – Out of the box & performance report

As mentioned in the first post, I ordered a Streamlight 88081 from Amazon. It arrived and, of course, I had to immediately check it out. Here are a series of photos with the story told in the captions.

This is the 88081 with the 18650 USB rechargeable batteries
The box has twp tables talking about performance metrics based on the type of battery used. The left table is for CR123A batteries and the right is for 18650 batteries. The model I bought comes with the 18650 class batteries (two of them are used at a time) so the right table is applicable.
The first thing I noticed was how it felt – there’s a nice solid heft to it, the rubberized grip is very positive and it fits my hand real nice. Note, I wear XL-sized gloves for reference.
Here’s the business end of the light. Notice the interesting lens. It kicks out one hell of a bright focused center but still radiates a very broad cone of light. It is not adjustable but I really haven’t found the need to change it after using it for over a month.
It has some big fins for heat dissipation. Note, the rubberized surface is only on the handle – the emitter head is just anodized aluminum to allow for cooling. Good idea on their part. The longest I’ve run the light about 5-10 minutes. It does warm up but I’ve not run it long enough to see just how hot it can get.
These are the Streamlight brand Micro USB rechargeable 18650 batteries. I was unsure about the concept at first but they give you a ton of options for recharging in your home, vehicle or even with a big battery in the field.

Streamlight 22102 Rechargeable Li-Ion Lithium-Ion 18650 USB Battery Set - 2 Pack

$29.08  
End Date: Saturday Aug-01-2020 14:34:39 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $29.08
Buy It Now

Streamlight 18650 Rechargeable ProTac Flashlight USB Battery 2pk

$29.07  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-15-2020 14:01:08 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $29.07
Buy It Now

Streamlight 18650, USB Rechargable Battery, 2/Pack, Clam Pack 22102

$29.11  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-15-2020 11:07:08 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $29.11
Buy It Now

22102 Streamlight USB Rechargeable 18650 Battery - 2 Pack

$29.46  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-08-2020 11:46:22 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $29.46
Buy It Now

Streamlight 18650 USB Battery-2 Pack

$45.98  
End Date: Thursday Aug-06-2020 20:08:23 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $45.98
Buy It Now
Because I already have an 18650 charging cradle, I bought some spare 18650 batteries. OLight makes good gear so I got a pair of their batteries. As I write this, they are in the light right now. I also bought them because I wasn’t sure how the Streamlight USBs would perform and the short answer is that if I had it to do over, I’d buy a second pair of Streamlight USBs because of the flexibility to charge just about anywhere. DO NOT BUY CHEAP BATTERIES!! You risk performance and them catching fire/exploding.

Olight 3600mAh 18650 High Capacity Protected Rechargeable Battery ORB-186P36

$24.99  
End Date: Thursday Jul-09-2020 17:26:10 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $24.99
Buy It Now

Olight 3600mAh 18650 High Capacity Protected Rechargeable Battery ORB-186P36 x2

$49.98  
End Date: Friday Jul-10-2020 11:21:19 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $49.98
Buy It Now

2pcs Olight 18650 3.6V 3600mAh Rechargeable Li-ion Protected Battery ORB-186P36

$37.79  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 06:44:52 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $37.79
Buy It Now

Olight 3600Mah 18650 Protected Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery Orb-186P36

$26.95  
End Date: Friday Jul-24-2020 07:49:49 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $26.95
Buy It Now

Olight 3600mAh 18650 protected Li-ion rechargeable battery

$39.95  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 07:31:57 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $39.95
Buy It Now
They use a nice beefy spring on the tailcap. This spring is a failure point on cheap lights along with the switch. I’ve never had a spring or switch fail on a Streamlight product.
According to my Bushnell 1200 laser range finder, the hedge row at the back behind the trees is 65 yards. You can see the very bright center and flood light around it.
The bush to the left of the driveway is 62 yards away. Again, you can see the very bright focused center beam and broad light to the sides.

TEN-TAP Programming

I have a pet peeve with some lights – I loathe the ones with tons of modes where you need to click the power switch to cycle through them – low, medium, high, strobe, SOS, etc. What a pain in the butt!! Streamlight wisely made the PROTAC HL programmable via what they call “TEN-TAP”. Mine is set to high beam on and off. That’s it. Sure, I can adjust it if I ever want to but all I need right now is the high beam and I don’t want to have to fumble around clicking the button to get to the high beam mode. Streamlight has a page that tells more about how to program your light – click here.

Bottom Line

I really, really like this light. It is the brightest one I own now and when we pull down the trash at night, we can see everything very clearly. If there are any coyotes, I am sure they are getting the heck out of Dodge as soon as they see that light and hear us coming. Furthermore, the light has enough heft that if we do need to hit something with it, the blow will do massive damage – you’d be amazed what a freaked out fat man can do 🙂 At any rate, I have no reservations recommending this light to you.


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.


Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$104.87  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 09:21:51 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $104.87
Buy It Now

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB Flashlight 88080 18650 Bat 3,500 Lumens

$103.99  
End Date: Saturday Aug-01-2020 14:24:09 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $103.99
Buy It Now

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB Tactical Flashlight - Black 88080

$106.50  
End Date: Tuesday Jul-07-2020 14:48:13 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $106.50
Buy It Now

Streamlight 88074 Protac Hl-5X Flashlight W-Batteries

$91.11  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 02:51:27 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $91.11
Buy It Now

Streamlight ProTac HL5-X USB Flashlight LED with Rechargeable 18650 Battery

$99.00  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-29-2020 23:33:51 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $99.00
Buy It Now

Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$100.00  
End Date: Sunday Jul-26-2020 18:08:16 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $100.00
Buy It Now

Streamlight 88080 ProTac HL 5-X USB LED 3500 Lumens Rechargeable Flashlight

$51.00  (20 bids)
End Date: Thursday Jul-09-2020 16:04:31 EDT

Bid

Streamlight 88081 Protac HL5-X Series up to 3500 Lumen Tactical Flashlight

$91.95  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-15-2020 15:00:58 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $91.95
Buy It Now

Streamlight 88075 Black Protac HL 5-X 3500 Lumens LED Flashlight w/ Batteries

$88.49  
End Date: Sunday Jul-12-2020 11:04:10 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $88.49
Buy It Now

Streamlight 88081 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ 18650 Battery

$105.07  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 09:21:58 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $105.07
Buy It Now

The Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X 3500 Lumen Light IS a Beast On Your Side – Part 1

One Sunday morning at about 7am, I was putting stuff in the trunk of my wife’s car when a surprised coyote carrying a dead reddish brown cat in its jaws ran by me about 20 feet away. I was startled but not especially worried – you could tell the ‘yote was just as surprised as I was. I knew we had them in the area but this was the closest I had been to one.

A few days later, my wife and I were pulling our trash cans down our long 300 foot driveway at night and all the woods and bushes are dimly lit. My wife said she saw a dog or something running across our yard in front of a hedge. My eyes are crap now and I didn’t see it until it reached the driveway and turned to run away from us – it was another coyote. Well, that did it for me, I wanted us to have a heavy flashlight with one hell of a bright beam to carry when we pulled the trash cans out at night.

My wife will tell you that I am fascinated by flashlights and have quite a collection. I have converted 3, 4 and 5 cell MagLites to LED – they had the weight but not the brightness that I wanted. I wanted something that would absolutely nuke the immediate area in light. I needed something that would push a ton of light in a flood pattern about 100-200 yards and that meant something with well over 1,000 lumens. My 250-500 lumen lights would light up a pretty large area but I wanted a tactical nuke that would light up a big chunk of our yard and stun/scare anything caught in its beam.

The other mandatory requirement that I must emhasize was reliability. I’ve had a ton of cheap import lights fail me – sometimes its the switch, sometimes the cheap under-powered spring pushing the batteries forward, etc. Most of the time, when you buy a cheap light, you get a cheap light. I honestly wanted a light the family could rely on and if they needed to swing it as a club in self-defense to hit a coyote, or any attacker really, it would still reliably work.

If I am going to put my family’s safety on the line with a light, such as this case, there are only two brands of light to be considered – Surefire and Streamlight. Surefire lights are excellent but usually priced outside of my reach. Streamlight on the other hand, is a great combination of excellent quality and affordability. My everyday carry light is usually a Streamlight Microstream and has been for the last 2-3 years. The only weapons lights I buy are Streamlights – either from the TLR or PROTAC series. I’ve never had one fail on me so I am confident with this brand in general.

Thus, I started my journey broad by surfing the web and reading and quickly narrowing my choice down to the Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X LED light.

The PROTAC HL 5-X Flashlight

As mentioned, I did a ton of reading. The specs on this light were wicked and convinced me to order one:

  • 3,500 lumen on high using 18650 batteries or only 2500 if using CR123A
  • Can use either two 18650 reachargeable batteries or four CR123A batteries
  • Three operating programs – 1) High/Low/Strobe 2) High Only 3) Low/Medium/High
  • Light output and battery life depends on both the mode and the type of battery:
    • High (18650 USB): 3,500 lumens; 452m beam; runs 1.25 hours; 51,000 candela
    • High (CR123A): 2,500 lumens; 385m beam; runs 1.5 hours; 37,000 candela
    • Medium: 1,000 lumens; 237m beam; runs 2.5 hours (CR123A); runs 3 hours (18650 USB); 14,100 candela
    • Low: 250 lumens; 120m beam; runs 10.5 hours (CR123A); runs 11.5 hours (18650 USB); 3,620 candela
    • Strobe for signaling or disorienting: runs 1.5 hours (CR123A); runs 1.25 hours (18650 USB)
  • 9.53 inches long
  • Weighs 1 pound 3.4oz with the Streamlight USB batteries
  • Rubber sleve over an aluminum body gives both a sure grip and is a thermal insulator

Yeah, it was definitely #1 on my “this is the light to get” list. An interesting note is that you can buy complete kits including Streamlights USB reachargeable 18650 batteries. I’m used to the traditional batteries that go in a charger so this was new to me – these batteries have a small micro USB port on each of them and Streamlight can supply a USB cord that plugs into the charger of your choice. Their cord has a split head for charging the two batteries at once. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

The problem with a great many rechargeable batteries is the need for a dedicated charger -either tying up the whole light as you plug a cord into the light or the batteries are removed and put in a charging cradle of some type. With the Streamlight 18650 USB batteries, things are actually simpler – many folks have USB chargers all over the house, in cars, at work, etc. All you need is a charger and any micro USB cable – there’s nothing proprietary to deal with. The light can still use regular rechargeable 18650 batteries as well – I use both but may well get another set of Streamlight 18650 USB batteries. I already have the charger in my office but I don’t have the flexibility I just mentioned.

So, I ordered the full USB kit from Amazon and they did their usual great job of shipping.

How Did It Perform?

As they say, that is a story for another day, or at least the next post so click here to read it. I’ll tell you though, it is one heck of a light and totally lived up to what I hoped for.

Fresh out of the box.

Click here to read the next post that has many photos of the light, its parts and night time photos showing the illumination.


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 current eBay listings for a variety of PROTAC HL 5-X lights and not just the one I bought:


Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$104.87  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 09:21:51 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $104.87
Buy It Now

Streamlight 88074 Protac Hl-5X Flashlight W-Batteries

$91.11  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 02:51:27 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $91.11
Buy It Now

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB Flashlight 88080 18650 Bat 3,500 Lumens

$103.99  
End Date: Saturday Aug-01-2020 14:24:09 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $103.99
Buy It Now

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB Tactical Flashlight - Black 88080

$106.50  
End Date: Tuesday Jul-07-2020 14:48:13 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $106.50
Buy It Now

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X LED Flashlight - Dual Fuel 3,500 Lumens

$20.50  (9 bids)
End Date: Friday Jul-10-2020 13:00:24 EDT

Bid

Streamlight 88081 Protac HL5-X Series up to 3500 Lumen Tactical Flashlight

$91.95  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-15-2020 15:00:58 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $91.95
Buy It Now

Streamlight 88075 Black Protac HL 5-X 3500 Lumens LED Flashlight w/ Batteries

$88.49  
End Date: Sunday Jul-12-2020 11:04:10 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $88.49
Buy It Now

88074 Streamlight Protac HL-5X Flashlight

$89.99  
End Date: Tuesday Jul-07-2020 18:50:09 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $89.99
Buy It Now

Streamlight 88080 ProTac HL 5-X USB LED 3500 Lumens Rechargeable Flashlight

$51.00  (20 bids)
End Date: Thursday Jul-09-2020 16:04:31 EDT

Bid

Streamlight 88074 Protac HL5-X Series 3500 Lumen Tactical Flashlight CR123A

$87.97  
End Date: Sunday Jul-12-2020 11:04:19 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $87.97
Buy It Now