How Does Pepper Spray Work?

Personal safety is something we all should take seriously. Whether it’s walking down a dark street at night or fighting off grizzly bears on the trail, pepper spray is an effective tool to fend off an attacker and get safely away. But have you ever thought about what gives this personal-defense-in-a-can its bite –– is it just weaponized hot sauce? This week on Reactions, we’re taking a look at what’s going on inside these little canisters, and we’ll give you some tips on what to do if you accidentally spray yourself.


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Producer: Elaine Seward
Writer: Elaine Seward & A.J. Fillo
Scientific Consultants: Darcy Gentleman, PhD John Sagebiel, PhD
Executive Producer: Hilary Hudson

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Ever wonder why dogs sniff each others’ butts? Or how Adderall works? Or whether it’s OK to pee in the pool? We’ve got you covered: Reactions a web series about the chemistry that surrounds you every day.

Produced by the American Chemical Society.

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