Most people use the terms “Mace,” “tear gas,” and “pepper spray” interchangeably – but did you know there are differences?
Mace is a term used to describe one type of tear gas, but it is also a very common term to describe all types of self-defense sprays. Mace is also a well-recognized trade name by Mace Security International. The company produces PepperGard pepper spray, and blended sprays (Pepper Foam, etc) under the name Mace.
The reaction to pepper spray is involuntary (not dependent on pain response), so pepper spray is effective on those who feel no pain, such as psychotics, drunks and drug abusers. Pepper spray also works to control wild animals. Tear gas is not effective in these situations.
Tear gas vaporizes to some extent. It may have some effect on a person who is hit less accurately, due to the vapors being inhaled or drifting into the eyes. Pepper spray does not emit fumes, and it will not deteriorate with age, but it must be sprayed in the eyes or inhaled directly to be effective.
Tear gas takes take longer to be effective, anywhere from 5 seconds to 30 seconds, while the effects of pepper spray are quicker. Tear gas also takes longer to wear off and the chemical residue can last for days.
Since each spray has different advantages, some formulations (e.g.Triple Action Sprays) are being manufactured which contain blends of OC (the chemical in pepper spray) and either CS or CN (the chemicals in tear gas).