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The Truth About Oleoresin Capsicum


You’ve probably never been on the receiving end of a stream of oleoresin capsicum, unless you have found yourself on the wrong side of the law that is. Don’t worry; it’s not something you have to feel bad about missing out on. In fact, it’s probably a good thing that this is an experience you’ve been able to dodge up until now.

Oleoresin capsicum is a fancy name for pepper spray. As you might expect it is distilled from hot peppers which contain capsaicin, the active ingredient in the manufacture of oleoresin capsicum. This oily substance is mixed at various concentrations into the personal security products. More capsaicin is usually found in government-targeted products but that doesn’t mean that getting sprayed with a pink can of Mace is a walk in the park.

Jalapeno and habanero peppers are the typical choices that oleoresin capsicum manufacturing companies utilize in producing their pepper spray canisters. While certainly not nearly as hot as other members of the nightshade family such as the ghost pepper, both jalapenos and habaneros are widely cultivated and always available for manufacture of pepper spray canisters.

It’s typical to find oleoresin capsicum (or “OC” as it’s commonly referred to) being sold to both government agencies and the civilian population at large. The law enforcement community is by far the largest consumer of full-strength oleoresin capsicum products nationwide. This isn’t because the police are hosing down people with oleoresin capsicum by the score day-in and day-out. In fact, the people who get a face full of pepper spray the most are actually police officers! That’s right, every year thousands of new police recruits go through basic training, one of the components of which is to get a first-hand experience of what exposure to oleoresin capsicum feels like. Furthermore, each police officer will periodically re-qualify with OC in order to keep their certification in good standing. This means that every few years or so each police officer has to go through the oleoresin capsicum experience all over again! Makes you want to steer clear of a job in law enforcement, doesn’t it?

The next largest consumer of oleoresin capsicum is the U.S. military. The reasoning is pretty similar. Each of the four branches of service maintains an internal military police force. Military police units train in similar fashion as civilian units and so pepper spray training is pretty much standard across the board. Additional specialized units such as Marine Security Forces and the Yankee White Marines which stand guard at the Camp David Presidential retreat also get to enjoy the burning heat of oleoresin capsicum during induction training.

Oleoresin Capsicum

Finally, the civilian market purchases large quantities of oleoresin capsicum for personal defense purposes as well. In most cases, the consumption of a product by the masses easily dwarfs that product’s usage by police or military forces. A good is example is how more guns are purchased by law-abiding civilians in America than by police or military units simply because there are so many non-military, non-police people out there. This isn’t the case with oleoresin capsicum because it is heavily regulated in many areas. Some states have outright bans on the books while others require civilian versions of oleoresin capsicum products to be produced in “reduced strength” versions.

So what does getting sprayed with oleoresin capsicum feel like? I can attest from personal experience as a member of the Marine Corps Security forces that getting sprayed with OC is one of the most horrific experiences known to man. As soon as the oily mixture hits the face and lodges within the eyes it begins to burn uncontrollably. The only thing that even compares to getting oleoresin capsicum in your eyes is putting on a contact lens after taking it out of a vial of hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution which hasn’t been neutralized. The eyes feel like they are on fire and the eyelids instinctively clamp shut. Tears begin to flow in a vain attempt at clearing the liquid fire from under the eyelids. The pain continues to intensity and it really does feel like you eyeballs themselves are being boiled out of your head with some type of hot oil. OC is a powerful irritant to mucus membranes as well, so the nose of anyone sprayed with oleoresin capsicum will begin to run uncontrollably and make breathing difficult. Add to this a sense of panic that often sets in and it begins to appear that the entire process must come straight out of a guidebook for Spanish Inquisition torture specialists.

Oleoresin capsicum, when properly employed, serves as an effective deterrent against would-be thugs. Many violent criminals have already had the experience of a face full of oleoresin capsicum during struggles with the police. Just seeing a canister of it pointed in their direction can cause the cowardly to turn heel and run. Just remember that pepper spray is no good against someone armed with a gun, so be sure that you feel confident in arming yourself with an oleoresin capsicum canister alone.

If you do decided that carrying a can oleoresin capsicum for personal defense is the best decision for you, then it’s best to start by checking the local regulations which govern whether it is legal to possess OC or not. In many states it easier to purchase a pistol than it is to buy pepper spray. Once you know where you stand in regards to the law you can start your search. Internet sources are usually the best because of the variety of products found online when compared to a Wal-Mart which might have one choice available.

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