Self defense substances

What is Oleoresin Capsicum?

February 2, 2019August 14, 2019

Oleoresin capsicum is defined by its name, Oleo means “Oil” and oleoresin means “oil with resins” whereas capsicum is an ingredient in peppers.

What is Oleoresin Capsicum?

Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) is a horticultural term which refers to oily organic resin derived from chili peppers. There are many sorts of chili peppers including chiletpin, jalapenos, cayenne and habaneros. All of them contain a powerful substance called capsaicin which adds spicy flavor. 

Commonly, people use it as culinary spice. The intensity and toxicological effects of Capsicum oleoresin are directly related to concentration of capsaicin or capsaicinoids. Being an active ingredient of Capsicum oleoresin, capsaicin causes pain and irritation of peripheral and central nerves.

Extracted from chili peppers, oleoresin capsicum is the active component of pepper spray. It is also found in few topical pain relievers. Oleoresin Capsicum is known to have many therapeutic benefits and law enforcement uses.

Oleoresin Capsicum generates an intense burning sensation that subsides within 15 to 20 minutes. OC is not an irritant but an inflammatory agent.

Which products are made of Oleoresin Capsicum?

Oleoresin Capsicum, an industrial extraction process of dried and ripe capsicum fruits, has a reddish – brown color, sharp pungent – sense aroma and is used in food products, for example hot sauces, seasoning mixtures and spicy dishes.

Oleoresin Capsicum is used as color and taste enhancing agent. The preservative is present in pepper spray and some topical pain relievers is derived from chili peppers.

Oleoresin capsicum spray

What is pepper spray made of? Pepper (OC) spray consists of Oleoresin oil suspended in water and alcohol-based carrier. It is encased in an aerosol canister with a propellant. These sprays are used mostly to get out of a difficult situation; it’s kind of a lifesaver in case of an attack and emergency.

There are many Oleoresin Capsicum spray devices you can use for your personal safety, such as pepper spray, bear spray, dog pepper spray. Each of the products varies due to level of capsaicin and related capsaicinoids.

This is why each spray is meant to provide different level of irritation. Personal pepper sprays vary from low of 0.18% to a high 3% capsaicinoids. Major Law enforcement agencies use pepper sprays at levels of 1.3% and 2%.

Oleoresin capsicum spray is usually seen as safe but has raised questions regarding its application for the purposes of governance. In the early 1980s oleoresin capsicum spray was introduced to the disarming of individuals and animals as a less than lethal alternative.

Now used actively for the purposes of police force. The spray causes intense eye, mouth and skin burning and also inflames the eyes and throat. Mace and Kimber are among the branded oleoresin capsicum sprays. Check out some of the best pepper sprays here.

Natural pain reliever

Capsicum contains natural pain reliever capsaicin. This medicine is also used to treat nervous pain in people who have herpes, zoster or shingles. It is used to relieve temporary muscle or joint pain caused by strains, sprains and arthritis.

In a number of non-prescription arthritis and muscle ache serums and lotions both, capsicum and its extract are a primary ingredient. Capsaicin used in the body causes a heat feeling, which activates certain cells in the nervous system.

This heating effect reduces the amount of P, a chemical that functions as a pain messenger in the body, through a regular use of capsaicin. Cramer atomic ball includes oleoresin capsicum and Zostrix contains capsaicin among pain relievers.

Bear spray

OC is also used in bear pepper sprays. These sprays help to prevent an attacking bear if sprayed on them from a suitable distance. It usually causes a severe burn in the eyes, nose and throat of the bears. Check the best bear pepper sprays in this article.

How does capsaicin affect the body?

It creates a burning sensation whenever it comes into contact with the skin of any part of the body by hitting the nerves and sending signals of its hotness towards the brain.

If there is high OC content, it means spray has more of oil content. The level of OC shows only the chili oil extract present in spray, but not the pungency or effectiveness of the product. The lighter the fluid, the more quickly it will penetrate the skin.

Thicker sprays tend to inflame the skin more and leave a lasting effect on this unnecessary inflammation. OC has proven itself as one of the best deterrent available for wild animal control.

How long does pepper spray effects last?

There are severe effects of pepper sprays that are not very easy to be gone soon. A small particle of pepper that is used at home for cooking can burn your eyes severely for some time although that is not as intense as a pepper spray.

So you can guess the intensity of a spray made up of peppers is far more than the normal pepper. Somehow, its effects are temporary like blindness for a time span of 15 to 30 minutes.

But the skin burning effect takes a longer time and could last around 45 minutes to 60 minutes. It causes coughing and difficulty in breathing. The duration of the effects depends on the manufacturing of the spray. But on average, its effects can last from 30 -90 minutes.

Can you get permanent damage from pepper spray?

Pepper sprays does not harm permanently as the ingredients used in them are non-toxic and they are safe to use. It is used for the creation of temporary effects. Although, there is a chance of some kind of permanent damage to the eyes if they are used repeatedly.

It can affect the cornea as it is the sensitive part of eyes and that is why it should not be used intentionally or repeatedly towards the face or for the sake of any kind of fun activity.

What Happens If You Inhale Pepper Spray?

When pepper spray comes in contact with eyes, oleoresin capsicum induces irritation, pain, upper body spasms, uncontrollable coughing and temporary blindness. Individuals may utilize it to defend against other uncooperative humans or wild animals.

According to 2013 study, it was found that number of police officers showed a decline after launching of pepper spray. Many regulatory bodies allow OC products with maximum level of 10%. Further, product must be equipped with safety feature to avoid accidental damage.

Precautions to take while using OC Spray

  • Use it only on topical areas of body. Don’t swallow it.
  • Use in a same manner as labeled. Don’t apply for longer time than recommended.
  • Don’t use Oleoresin Capsicum on open wounds or on sunburned skin. If it gets into contact with your eyes, nose, mouth then rinse it with cold water.

Can you die from inhaling Pepper spray?

No! You cannot die on inhaling only a pepper spray. It cannot be a primary cause of death but it can contribute to the factors and mix and match with them that could be a reason of death of a person.

Till date, few people are said to be dead due to exposure of pepper spray but according to reports, there were other factors also along with a pepper spray that may be the main reason of causing deaths. This is why pepper sprays are illegal to carry in countries like Canada because they are not completely safe if used in a public place.


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