Bear Spray vs Pepper Spray: Head to Head Comparison

The summer’s coming and you are excited. Camping trips, trekking, a swim in the beautiful lake in the forest. Everything about summer sounds refreshing. 

But there is danger lurking behind that tree or maybe inside the bush. 

What is it?


Although bear attacks are not so common but are extremely fatal. As per Cowboy State Daily, 40 bear attacks happen worldwide each year. The most fatal attacks are by the black bears of North America that stalk and kill human victims mercilessly.

A bear can knock you over with just a single kick with its paw. 

So how to protect yourself? 

Bear sprays are the best way you can protect yourself, second to only a Remington 870. They comprise different ingredients than pepper sprays and are specifically made to deter bears. 

In this article, we will talk about the difference between bear spray and pepper spray.

What is Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray is a lachrymator aerosol that encourages the production of tears in the eyes. Pepper spray’s main ingredient is oleoresin capsaicin (OC). Chilies’ heat is caused by a chemical compound called capsaicin. Pepper sprays, on the other hand, contain significantly more oleoresin capsaicin than chilli peppers.

Jalapeno pepper can have up to 5000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) (Scoville heat unit, the unit for heat in peppers). Pepper sprays with up to 5 million SHU are used by law enforcement officers (1,000x than jalapeno pepper).

What is a Bear Spray?

Bear Spray

Bear spray is a brilliant idea. Bear spray is 92 percent successful in stopping a bear assault by stinging the bear’s nose and eyes with painful compounds and interfering with its inhalation. That’s a lot more successful than using a pistol, which only allowed victims to avoid harm in 50% of attacks, as per a 2008 US research.

When purchasing bear spray, check for the EPA registration on the packaging. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of inspecting bear sprays. They ensure that bear sprays have the proper amounts of active chemicals, which we’ll go over in more detail in the following part of this pepper spray vs bear spray analysis.

Bear Spray vs Pepper Spray

1. Legality

Pepper spray production and distribution is prohibited in Canada, as per Canada’s Firearms Act. However, you can carry bear spray with you for protecting yourself against a bear. Yet, if you use it on a person, you will be charged by the authorities for using it as a weapon. 

Still, confused?

You can carry bear sprays on camping trips, trekking, or hiking on a bear trail. In fact, if you are planning to go hiking on a bear trail, a bear is the first thing you should pack for the trip. 

However, if you use the same canister to protect yourself from attackers and goons when you step out in the city for a stroll. 

Also, remember to not pack pepper spray for the hiking trip. They are ineffective against the and will render you defenseless. 

2. Composition

Oleoresin capsicum (OC), an oily chemical derived from cayenne peppers, is used for both bear and pepper spray. The proportions of “capsaicin and associated capsaicinoids” (CRC) or “major capsaicinoids” (MC)—the portions of the oleoresin capsicum that really lead to anguish to be lesser in bear spray compared in (illegal in Canada) pocket pepper spray, which can vary from 1% to 3%.

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates bear sprays in the United States, requiring them to have a CRC level of between 1% and 2%, although many bear sprays marketed in Canada have a 1% dose.

3. Working

Bear sprays have a wider spray range than pepper sprays. They spray in a comical shape for at least 6 seconds continuously. With a spray range of 25 feet, it ensures that you can protect yourself without coming too close to the bear. It leaves a massive cloud of chemicals that burns the eyes and nose of the bear. 

Spraying bear spray on the ground creates a column of spray that a bear must pass through in order to reach you. In an ideal situation, you’ll deploy your bear spray while the bear is still between 25 and 30 feet away and you have six seconds to spray it.

Pepper spray bottles have a far smaller range and period of effect, which means the bear must be right in front of you until you can spray it. It’s not the smartest choice. To learn more you can read our blog on how long pepper spray lasts.

Bear spray, of course, is useless unless it is used. You won’t have the opportunity to rummage in your bag for your bear spray canister if you’re attacked by a mama grizzly, which is why most bear sprays come with a belt or shoulder scabbards. Always keep your bear spray on hand if you’re in an area with bears, especially if it’s the time of year when they have young cubs.

What Happens If You Use Bear Spray on a Human?

The effects are significantly dissimilar because bear mace may only contain 20% of the oleoresin capsicum that pepper spray for use on human assailants will have.

Bear mace is likely to produce relatively minor discomfort and burning. This may not be enough to stop a person from attacking you, especially if they are already enraged.

Bear mace is intended to repel bears without harming them or having any long-term consequences. Pepper spray, on the other side, is intended to render an attacker unconscious.

Final Words

Hopefully, this article has informed you well on the difference between bear and pepper sprays. Before buying any of these, we recommend buying a practice canister so you can avoid accidentally spraying it on yourself. 

No matter what, check the legality of any self-defense equipment that you buy, be it a personal keychain, or a pepper spray. Have you ever used pepper or bear spray? Tell us more in the comments.

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