A Modern History of Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is one of the safest, easiest, and most effective ways to protect yourself against an attacker. You might be surprised to learn, however, that pepper spray has only been around for about fifty years, and it has only popular among civilians for about twenty years. Here’s a brief, modern history of the unique pepper formula that keeps us women out of harm’s way.

Before pepper spray, other types of natural and chemical formulas were used for defense purposes. As early as 425 B.C., for example, ancient Greeks created toxic fumes by burning wood with sulfur and pitch. Ancient Chinese soldiers would commonly fling rice paper saturated with ground cayenne pepper to defend themselves. The “Mitsubishi,” a box used to blow hot peppers into an opponent’s eyes, was used during Japan’s Tukagawa Empire.

In 1864, the first non-lethal tear gas, called Chloroacetophenone (CN tear gas) was developed in Germany. In 1928, B.B. Corson and R.W. Stoughton developed orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS tear gas), another non-lethal tearing compound. Both types of tear gas are still used today.

Pepper spray was not developed until 1960, when Dr. James H. Jenkins, a veterinarian at the University of Georgia, created a compound to defend humans against aggressive animals. This compound, called Oleoresin Capsicum or OC, represents what we refer to as pepper spray. Pepper spray’s active ingredient is capsaicin, which is a chemical produced from hot chili peppers. Dr. Jenkins’s original pepper spray was called Halt Animal Repellant and was available for commercial purchase in 1963.

Pepper spray proved to be incredibly successful as an animal deterrent, protecting humans against aggressive dogs and even grizzly bears without lasting harm to the animal or the environment. Due to its effectiveness, in the mid 1980s, the United States Postal Service began issuing pepper spray to postal workers to protect themselves from dogs. Mail carriers still carry pepper spray.

Also the mid-1980s, the FBI began researching the possibility of using pepper spray on humans, and in 1989 the FBI authorized special agents and SWAT teams to use pepper spray. Using pepper spray in law enforcement allowed officers to control aggressive behavior without resorting to physical or deadly force.

In the 1990s, as pepper spray became more common among law enforcement officials, civilians began carrying pepper spray as a means of self defense against other humans. Today, millions of civilians carry pepper spray in canisters and on key chains, arming themselves with a safe, potent, and inexpensive self-defense device.

Ready to protect yourself? Visit Safety Girl’s website to order your pepper spray today!

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