CS and CN are not actually pepper spray but tear gas. They are made from chemical compounds and are considered to be carcinogens. Long term exposure to CS and CN may cause liver and heart damage and can lead to cancer.

CS and CN are classified as irritants that have an affect on the membrane cells. They cause stinging in the skin, tearing in the eyes and can take up to thirty seconds to take effect. Because they are irritants they are often useless against people on drugs who, as a result of their drug use, may not feel any pain.

In the past, U.S. soldiers have been intentionally exposed to CS in an effort to build up immunity to it’s effects, in the event an enemy attempted to use it in battle. CS gas is officially barred from war-time use by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, but it continues to be used by police departments and foreign governments for crowd control during riots.  

OC Pepper Spray

OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) is the most common of the commercially Lost Mary available defensive sprays. It is an inflammatory compound, as opposed to CS and CN which are irritants. This means that it’s effective against people under the influence of drugs. OC is not a man-made chemical; it’s developed from a number of sizzling hot pepper plants, its all-natural, non-toxic and causes zero lasting harm. OC has no lag time, it starts working without right away, and typically takes about 45 minutes for its impact to abate.

OC dilates the eye capillary vessels, which then causes a brief loss of sight. Then, it goes into the throat and inflames respiratory tissue, resulting in extensive coughing. Breathing is not affected so its not life threatening.

For most people, OC is probably the best choice for a self defense product. However, there are now several options to choose from and factors such as formula, and delivery method are important to consider before making a purchase. 


Pepper sprays can be purchased in a wide range of concentrations from 1% to 18%. Most people mistakenly feel that because 18% is the highest number, therefore it’s the most effective.

However, the best way to determine a pepper spray’s effectiveness is to find out the heat rating. The heat rating of OC pepper spray typically is calculated in Scoville Heat Units (SHU’s). The SHU for an ordinary bell pepper is 0, however Habanero peppers are generally nearly 200,000 to 300,000. Nearly all OC pepper sprays have an SHU around 1,000,000. So a concentration of 18% is ok, but if the heat rating is only around 200,000 it won’t be as effective. Pepper spray with a greater heat rating will incapacitate a criminal and make him a great deal more miserable than a pepper spray with a lower heat rating.

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