Mace vs Pepper Spray: What’s the Difference Between Each?

Confusion sometimes arises when it comes to differentiating pepper spray and mace. A lot of times pepper spray may be referred to as mace but there is actually a difference between the two.It is good to know your facts and to do your due-diligence before you go out to purchase your own self defense spray.

The main distinction between the two is that pepper spray is an inflammatory agent while mace which is similar to tear gas is classified as an irritant. Let’s take a deeper look below into the mace vs pepper spray comparison.

The History on Mace

Hand holding a canister of pepper sprayMace is a self defense spray that was invented in 1965 by Allan Litman. In the early 1980-1990’s it was primarily made up of Phenacyl chloride (CN/tear gas). This original formula of mace has now for the most part been discontinued because it was believed to be somewhat ineffective on certain individuals.

Nowadays, mace has been replaced by oleoresin capsicum (OC) which is the same ingredient used in pepper spray.

Mace is also the manufacturer of self defense and security products so you can literally purchase Mace brand pepper spray. Even though most if any companies still manufacture the original formula, the Mace brand still carries their Triple Action Defense Spray which is claimed to be a combination of OC pepper spray, CN tear gas, and UV marking dye.

Mace vs Pepper Spray Comparison

Now that you know the brief history on mace, let’s dive into defining some of the differences between mace and pepper spray.

Firstly, the old mace was not successful in disorienting those that were under the influence of any sort of drugs or alcohol. This was somewhat a major flaw since you usually only needed to use mace on attackers that were under the influence.

When mace was used by law enforcement it was deemed ineffective since the mace did not have much effect on intoxicated or violent individuals which even led to several police officer injuries.

On the contrary, pepper spray will immediately incapacitate an attacker even if they are intoxicated or pain resistant for a duration of 20 minutes to an hour and is far more effective than the mace of the past. Since the effects of pepper spray go away slower, it leaves the individual in pain for a longer period of time.

Additionally, pepper spray will cause inflammation in the eyes, and skin resulting in shortened blindness, difficulty in breathing, and a strong burning sensation while mace does not have these very same effects. Pepper spray will not only linger around longer but it’s also quite difficult to wash off.

In the legal system mace and pepper spray are referred to as the same thing. Even though it is legal throughout the majority of the United States, it is important to know your state and city pepper spray laws before purchasing.

On the flip side, one common similarity mace and pepper spray share is they are both classified as a lachrymatory agent. Lachrymatory agents are a class of chemical weapons that cause pain, tear, and even blindness by stimulating the corneal nerves in the eyes.

In conclusion, when someone refers to mace, technically they are referring to the brand that manufactures pepper spray. It’s pretty much the same as when someone says Kleenex when referring to a facial tissue.

That’s basically the difference between mace and pepper spray. If you enjoyed this article help us out by sharing it via your favorite social network, or leave us feedback in the comments below.


  1. Rick says

    You are absolutely right my wife and i have to explain this to a lot of our customers that come in and they just dont know what mace or pepper spray is and we love to inform them the best we can.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *