Self defense substances

Pepper Spray vs. PAVA Spray

March 6, 2019April 2, 2020

Pepper spray is a lachrymatory agent that is used by police to control riots and by civilians as a self-defense weapon. It not a lethal agent and usually causes temporary blindness, discomfort, and burning sensation. It comes in various forms such as steam, foam or stream. ( check the most popular online )

PAVA spray is a similar incapacitant spray like pepper spray. It contains a 0.3% solution of pelargonic acid vanillylamide which is a synthetic capsaicinoid. Nitrogen is the propellant in this spray. The purpose of the equipment is to minimize a person’s resistance without causing discomfort for a longer time.

Two female police officers use PAVA spray

Pava spray is not available to buy for civilians, it is mainly used by UK police officers. PAVA causing eye closure and severe pain. The pain is similar as compared to pepper spray. It is very effective once sprayed in the eyes of the attacker.

Differences between P.A.V.A and pepper spray

The difference between the two is in specifications due to variation in chemical properties of both the solutions. Pepper spray is a natural substance while pava spray in man-made chemicals. There may be some differences in effects, contamination and time frame, lets take a look:


Both sprays cause flammable effects. Effects of PAVA spray can wear out in 15-35 minutes of exposure to fresh air is given, just like pepper spray. Read more about pepper spray effects here.


Pepper spray is effective even if the individual is under the influence of alcohol and drugs. This is not the case with Pava spray and other tear gases like CS and CN gas. In this article, you can read even when pepper spray is not effective.


Pepper spray causes more contamination than PAVA sprays. Pepper sprays require less accuracy when sprayed to be effective. This is considered a benefit as it was effective even when the subject turned away or put hands to their eyes.

However, one drawback of some pepper spray is the cross-contamination it causes. It inadvertently affects the bystanders hence creating a potentially dangerous environment. Crystals can linger on clothes and maybe reactivated with the application of water.

In order for the PAVA spray to be effective, it should be directly sprayed in the eyes so greater accuracy is required. So, it is ineffective in stressful situations, but the benefit of the spray is that it does not affect the bystander or effects the environment in any way.

Time frame

Both the sprays appear to work within similar time frames. The response time depends on the individual being sprayed. Recovery time from the effect of both the sprays was also considered fairly the same.

However, some responses report that individuals sprayed with PAVA spray recovered faster. Recovery time was between 10 minutes to a few hours. There is a gradual recovery period significant symptom subside in short term, but full recovery takes longer. 

Also, it can cause some longer-term skin symptoms which can be up to seven days and cause flaking and dryness of the skin.


Self-defense sprays are used all over the world but some countries do not allow it, these are UK, China, Canada. Pepper spray is legal in all 50 states in US, but some countries have some restrictions. You need to know the law before you decide to buy. Remember, self-defence spray can be used only in self-defense. In this article, you can learn more about best pepper sprays.


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