Self defense substances

Does Bear Spray Work On Humans?

February 15, 2019July 15, 2019

What would happen if you use the bear spray on a human? Would it lead to blindness? These are some common questions that people ponder on.

It is vital to prioritize your safety at all times. However, sometimes it can be challenging to decide whether you should be carrying a bear spray with you or a pepper spray. This becomes particularly crucial if you reside in an area where bear attacks are frequent. It is highly inconvenient to keep two sprays with you all the time.

A bit about bear spray

First things first. Bear sprays are designed to provide protection against bear attacks. As per studies, these products have proven to be highly effective in warding off bears as compared to other options like guns. A bear spray is quite similar to pepper sprays that one uses for protection against human attackers. However, bear sprays are capable of shooting farther and also have a wider effective area.

Does bear spray work on humans?

Bear spray Ingredients

Before we move onto discuss the effect of bear spray on humans, let us first shed some light on the ingredients that bear sprays comprise of. Three main ingredients make up bear sprays:

The primary component of a bear spray is Oleoresin capsicum which is an extract of hot peppers. This ingredient leads to a burning sensation when exposed to the skin. It is also quite oily and tenacious.

Bear sprays also comprise a base fluid or carrier. This oil-based ingredient has the responsibility of ensuring that the spray remains in its evenly mixed liquid state. It also brings about dilution of the capsicum, which if undiluted, can be highly potent.

Lastly, it is the aerosol propellant that you will find in bear sprays. This plays a role in the ejection of the ingredients from the can and onto the target.

Effects of bear spray on humans

There have been cases where people have protected themselves against mugging and similar other attacks via bear spray.

Bear spray leads to an inflammatory reaction in bears. They have a similar effect on humans as well. When a person is sprayed on with this product, he experiences swelling of the mucous membrane of the eyes, nose, and lungs leading to irritation.

The defense mechanism of the body against the spray is increased production of mucus so that the chemicals can exit the body at a rapid rate. Thus, as a result, eyes close involuntarily followed by stimulation of tear production. The nose also starts to run profusely, and a cough develops.

Can bear mace blind you?

Bear spray can cause temporary blindness apart from other symptoms of nausea, cough and tears. However, this blindness is rarely permanent.

Can you die from bear spray?

However, bear sprays often trigger less extreme reactions to humans. This is because the bear sprays have a lower concentration of oleoresin capsicum compared to pepper sprays.

It is apparent that bear sprays are not dangerous for humans. You cannot possibly die if sprayed with bear spray.

Should you use bear spray instead of pepper spray?

Even the best bear sprays are not as effective in warding off human attacks as regular pepper sprays. Usually, if the attacker is determined enough, he can get over the effects of bear sprays and charge at you with even more anger.

Furthermore, bear sprays are expensive as compared to pepper spray and since they come in large canisters are difficult to carry around. In contrast, regular pepper sprays are small and easy to use, they are also much stronger.

What should be done in case of accidental spray?

If one becomes contaminated with bear spray unintentionally, some steps can be taken to improve the situation.

The first thing that you need to do is wash all the areas where the spray has come in contact with cool and clean water. If you are wearing contact lenses, remove them at the earliest. The clothing which has been contaminated needs to be washed. You should then endeavor to take short and shallow breaths. This will minimize breathing in the spray.


The symptoms take around 15 to 20 minutes to alleviate. If you do not feel any relief in symptoms after this period, it is advisable to acquire medical attention.

Is Bear Spray Legal?

Bear spray is legal to use in the USA except it’s few states which apply their state guidelines for spray‚Äôs use. In the United Kingdom, it is not legal to carry such aerosol sprays as they are categorized as weapons.

New Zealand also does not allow the use of bear sprays and does not allow anyone to carry them. One can carry them with special permissions only in national parks.

Canada frequently faces bear attacks and has legalized to carry Bear Sprays, however one should use it on bears only.


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