Chapter 1 - Pepper Up Your SHTF Plan

I'm not telling you to do this. If you do this, you choose to. I don't want you to even need do this but life is a bitch and we have a right to know how to keep ourselves safe from harm. Nominally, if we are in danger, we should call the police, but hey, what if you're a woman who lives alone in the country, kilometres from any sort of police response, and a local "creepazoid" "takes a shine" to you and he is totally unwelcome to. I believe there are situations where, even though in law we might not have such a right, we do have "a moral right" to nonlethal defence. I'm not writing in the USA, BTW, the Second Amendment doesn't apply outside that failed state, and is the reason that nation is a failed state. Yeah, pin pulled, diplomatic incident, fuck the USA, fuck off.

So, the nonlethal defence option for the rest of us. It needs to be "cooking" rather than "chemistry." It needs to be relatively nontechnical, but safe, to deliver against an assailant. The ingredients need to be legal and accessible, the tools and method need to simple, legal and accessible. The solution, literally, is pepper spray. There's even a wikiHow for it: How To Make Pepper Spray.

As a practical guy, I spotted some problems straight up, and I want to address them so that you can use this knowing that not only is it your intent to self-defend, without permanent harm to an assailant, but that you don't harm yourself doing it. First, stay out of the questions. Some a are sensible, most are stupid. There is also the frequent claim that one should not use high Scovil Heat Factor (SHF) chillies as, "these will cause permanent eye damage." Lets scotch that straight up.

According the opthalmic specialists Essilor...

As for the dangers, the majority of studies state that OC pepper spray is completely non-toxic and safe. According to the Journal of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, eye exposure to OC is not harmful, and there is no evidence saying pepper spray causes long-term vision problems. However, repeated exposure can trigger changes in corneal sensitivity.

Any claims of high SHF chillies causing permanent eyesight damage are probably born of the sort of "small lies" those of us in the social justice communities of the world have seen, and sometimes used, to campaign against authorities using defensive tools. I understand the importance of regulating police in their use of "harmless suppression technologies" but we really shouldn't lie about this stuff, because it can bite us on the bum. Any permanent eye damage is likely, by my guess, down to overuse of the alcohol solvent to extract the capsicum oils. Your milaege may vary, but the science to date is that, while strong chillies may cause heightened sensitivity to subsequent exposures, they won't permanently damage eyesight.

However, as far as I can tell, allergy is the real potential legal danger. This is more likely to result in negative respiratory responses but, in likely less long term effects, may result in potentially severe skin irritations, too. But, if you genuinely believe your life is in danger, ie domestic violence with murder as intent, and you have cover to protect your case in this, you will be able to make a defence against respiratory distress or lasting skin lesions in your pepper sprayed assailant. Such a defence will cost you much time and money and may ruin your reputation for life, so be fucking careful if you do make and use this stuff. You want to be REALLY sure of your need to pepper spray an assailant.

The final safety factor to consider is your safety. How you deliver this stuff is very important. I've been pepper sprayed by police (gastrointestinal distress, trying to catch a train home to clean up and hide away for the rest of my life.) It was new year's eve, and police "needed" to flex a bit of muscle for the crowd at the station. The tool used was a professional product, held in a holster, the nozzle delivered a jet, not a spray mist. The nozzle itself was a 10cm(?) tube, maybe one millimetre internal diameter, it was folded down beside the can and the officer inserting their finger into the trigger mechanism caused it to flip up. This is to protect the officer from the spray. It isn't a vapour, its a stream, this makes it aimable. This is important. The officers had all pulled on nitrile gloves once they stopped me. This is less important to your safety, but for fucks sake, DON'T RUB YOUR EYES AFTER USING A CAPSICUM JET DEFENSIVE TOOL! If you are wearing gloves, remove them immediately after using the tool.

How calm are you in a crisis? Will a tool such as a capsicum spray/jet make you too cocky? Some aggressive attackers are spurred on by adrenaline and pain, not disabled by it. Military experts call this "the fog of war." Random unkown factors that can never be determined in advance. All of these matters need consideration, training and visualisation techniques to use safely. Self defence is an awareness and a preparedness, it's NEVER something you just carry, in hope you'll never need it. Even a simple pepper spray.

So, have I put you off yet? From the "Karate Kid" films, Miage San says, "Best way to avoid punch, no be there." OK, against my best advice, you want to continue? Here's some advice to keep yourself safe from yourself.

  • Don't clown around. This stuff is fucking serious. (See the above-mentioned risk factors) It's not a pistol, it's not going to kill you, but are you allergic to chillies? That might kill you. Do you know anaphylactic first aid? Your attacker's allergies are not known to you and could put you in jail for life. Don't use it as a prank, that is the very legal definition of assault. Just don't be a dick. AND DON'T USE IT AS A COUNTERMEASURE AGAINST POLICE AT A PROTEST! It won't win you any media support for your cause, anyway.
  • Follow the linked recipe to the letter, at first. Using a nitrile gloved finger, while wearing well sealed eye goggles, dab a tiny drop of the resulting liquid on the outer rim of one nostril and be ready for anything that might be more severe than simple pain. Have antihistamine medication handy. Have antihistamine meds handy if you carry a delivery tool of this stuff with you, just in case your hypothetical attacker turns out to be allergic to peppers. If thise defensive tool ever goes pear-shaped on you, be ready with the right actions to show that you intended self defence, not murder or manslaughter. It's not simply legal to defend yourself at the cost of another's life or long term health. Assault or murder are crimes of intent, not accidents, and a lack of intent is manslaughter and is still a crime. Self defence that goes to far is hard to live down, even if you win the day in court.
  • If you feel "the need" to up the recipe's strength, while the science shows that professional CS spray tools are unlikely to cause permanent eye damage, don't be a fuckwit about it. Getting more oils out of a mess of pepper dust or crushed peppers probably requires more alcohol, and more alcohol is probably a risk to the eyes. Professional sprays are between 500000 SHF and 5000000 SHF. That doesn't mean they need to be that strong to be effective. I love hot chillies to eat, but a 50000 SHF pepper can reduce me to snuffling tears. It comes down to knowing how to deliver a dose of medium strength oil/alcohol/pepper oils solution to a person's eyes and nose. Effective at a lower SHF is less likely to result in severe anaphylaxis. You have to practice with a friend with water in your home made delivery device, and they with you. Regularly.
  • To recap, don't be a cunt, don't be an idiot, train hard as well as getting some conventional self-defence skills into the bargain and learn first aid. This stuff is not guaranteed legal, even in the USA, even against bears. Be respectful of even an assailant, they are human, too, and have had a journey to wind up as broken as wanting to rape, kill or bash you. Disable them with skill and sensible tools, then set them on a path to rehabilitation via the law. Vengeance begets vengeance begets vengeance. Only idiots seek that path. You should have a mindset that is strictly a pathway of distract, divert or (temporarily) disable. Anything involving more violence is as criminal as the initiator of an assault.

If you are willing to do some hard science on a range of pepper mashes, here's an upper limit you should try on yourself before considering what is a "minimum effective strength." I say, "try on yourself" because you really should know, first hand, what it is you might inflict on an attacker. And I do mean "know." As I keep saying, this shit is serious and is legally "weapons grade" cooking. Be very fucking careful.


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