Pepper spray is an excellent non-lethal close-range antipersonnel weapon that can mean the difference between life and death. While it is readily available for purchase at the present time, in a post-collapse survivalist scenario, you may not be able to acquire store-bought pepper spray as easily.
Fortunately, pepper spray is fairly simple to make with a few ingredients that you will either be able to grow in your backyard vegetable garden, have already stored in bulk, or barter for. Homemade pepper spray is simply a combination of dried peppers with a high Scoville rating and a delivery medium.
By stocking up on pepper seeds and other materials now, you will be well prepared in a post-collapse scenario.
The main ingredient of homemade pepper spray is the dried chili peppers. Chili peppers are spicy because they contain the chemical capsaicin. Capsaicin not only gives spicy food their flavor, it is also the active ingredient in pepper spray that irritates the eyes to induce tears, pain, and temporary blindness.
Peppers with more capsaicin are “hotter” and therefore more effective in pepper spray.
Scoville Units and Choosing Your Peppers
The level of “heat” in a chili pepper is measured in Scoville Units. U.S. Law Enforcement Grade Pepper Sprays have a Scoville rating ranging from 500,000 to 5 million Units.
For effective homemade pepper spray, it is best to pick a chili pepper that is rated at a minimum of 200,000 Scoville Units. Individual peppers will vary in their Scoville rating depending on several factors, so the ratings are given as a range:
• Bird’s eye chili peppers have a Scoville rating from 100,000 – 225,000 SU.
• Habañero chili peppers have a Scoville rating from 100,000 – 350,000 SU.
• Red Savina habañero peppers have a Scoville rating from 350,000 – 580,000 SU.
• Bhut Jolokia (Ghost) peppers have a Scoville rating from 850,000 – 1.04 million SU
Ingredients for the Spray
• 6-12 chili peppers, preferably from the above list. Using more peppers will increase the percentage of capsaicin in the final product and make the spray stronger.
• 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
• 2 Cups Vinegar or Ispropyl Rubbing Alcohol (the delivery system)
• 2 Tbsp. Mineral oil (causes the spray to adhere to clothing or fur)
• Latex or rubber gloves
• Eye protection
• Mask to protect nose and mouth. If you do not have an N95 respirator, soak a bandanna in lemon juice and tie it snugly over your nose and mouth.
• Knife and cutting board
• Sealable jar or bottle
• Dry the chili peppers. Tie the peppers to a string and hang them for 1-2 weeks in an area that gets plenty of sunlight and airflow. You can also dry them more quickly by heating them for several hours in an oven set to 150, or use a dehydrator if you have one.
• Remove the stems, and mince the peppers as fine as possible. Be careful not to lose the oils and juice while you are mincing. If you have a food processor, you can use that for this step.
• Mince or process the garlic.
• Combine all ingredients. If you do not have a food processor or blender, combine ingredients in a large bowl mix thoroughly until they are a homogenous mash. Push the mash through a sieve to strain out the largest pieces.
• Leave in a cool place (preferably a refrigerator) for 24-48 hours to tincture the mixture.
• Spread the cheesecloth across the base of the funnel mouth, and slowly pour the mixture into the jar or bottle. Remove excess chunks as they build up on the cheesecloth and discard.
This recipe makes about 10 ounces of pepper spray. You can store it in a cool place (preferably a refrigerator or icebox if you have one) in a sealed container for up to 2-3 months. A simple spray bottle works as a delivery mechanism.
It’s important to find one that has a range of about ten feet with a fairly concentrated stream. Avoid spray bottles that create a fine mist, as this risks the pepper spray blowing back in your own face.