Pepper spray is likely the most tactical, inexpensive, and easy to use self defense option you can choose as a means to protect your safety.
If you are considering buying or have already bought pepper spray then you may be apprehensive about some general questions regarding pepper spray use and storage.
A common question a lot of users often have is: does pepper spray expire? Well, the answer to that question is both yes and no.
All aerosol pepper spray products do expire but the active main ingredient and inflammatory agent known as oleoresin capsicum (OC) is not what expires. In fact, OC itself can stay potent past the expiration date for a relatively long period of time if stored and packaged properly.
To put it straight, the reason why essentially all pepper spray canisters are stamped with an expiration date is because over time the pressurized aerosol canister will not spray the advertised distance, or at all.
Generally pepper spray products will carry a shelf life of 2-4 years from the day they are manufactured. Even though a pepper spray can potentially last you up to 5 years it is certainly advised you buy a new can every 9-12 months for optimum performance. Besides, the manufacturer cannot be held liable for expired pepper spray.
Why Does Pepper Spray Expire?
To understand why pepper spray expires we first need to look at the components of a typical pepper spray canister. There are three basic contents in an aerosol pepper spray, these being the active ingredient Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), a carrier such as propylene glycol, and a propellant such as nitrogen.
The carrier acts as a vehicle in which the OC is suspended into water or oil. The propellant is what helps pressurize the canister in order to release the solution. There are many types of pepper spray patterns that the solution can be released in such as fog, mist, or stream.
Over time as the canister sits idle it will begin to lose its pressure, and despite the ingredients and chemicals remaining the same they can go inert.
In fact, this is the case with almost every aerosol based product such as hair spray or paint spray. The formula itself is able to stand the test of time and remain effective but the propellant which is responsible for discharging the product will slowly deplete. It’s unlikely you’ll find an expiry date on every aerosol spray product out there because United States product safety regulations may not require the manufacturer to label one.
In conclusion, it’s the propellant that expires and not the pepper spray (OC).
Proper Storage of Pepper Spray
Despite the fact that there may be a ways to go until your personal pepper spray expires, it’s still important to conduct a simple spray test every 3-4 months. This ensures the proper safety and usage of your product and keeps you in good faith that your canister is still fully functional and in working condition.
Whenever it’s time to buy a new can of pepper spray I personally prefer to purchase an extra can of the same kind and use that as a test unit. This is especially the case with smaller units since they usually only have a limited amount of shots.
To avoid leakage it’s important to store pepper spray at room temperature. Extreme temperature conditions either hot or cold can reduce the effectiveness of OC spray.
Remember, always check the expiration date and replace your pepper spray before the shelf life from the manufactured date runs out. If possible try to replace your pepper spray with a new one every 9-12 months. Next, conduct a spray test every 3 to 4 months to assure distance and consistency is measuring up to advertise standards. Following these simple tips will guarantee your pepper spray will be battle-ready and in working condition when you need it most!
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