• Don’t get Mace confused with Pepper Spray.
  • Mace is an irritant that is very similar to tear gas.
  • Unlike pepper spray which is an inflammatory agent, Mace is an irritant.
  • Pepper spray will have an effect on those that feel no pain such as those under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Mace may or may not have an effect on these types.
  • Unlike pepper spray Mace will NOT cause inflammation of the capillaries causing temporary blindness, nausea, cut off all but life support breathing and create a very strong burning or stinging sensation.
  • It is important to note that Mace is also a brand name.
  • Nearly all dealers do not sell Mace: only the Mace brand. Most dealers selling sprays are PEPPER SPRAY!
Pepper Spray is usually legal in all 50 states,  however a number of cities and states have restrictions on sizes, strengths, etc. If you have a question, it is wise to check with your local city or state attorney's office.

See also the bottom of any page on this web site for locations that we cannot not ship to because of the restrictions.

Defense sprays should only be purchased by those 18 years of age or older. The below list may not be totally accurate or complete we accept no responsibility for its accuracy or completeness.

* Never use Pepper Spray unless you feel you are threatened or you need to protect someone else.

* Improper use could result in criminal action. You could be sued or in some states fined up to $1000 or imprisoned up to 3 years.

* Pepper Spray cannot be carried on a commercial airline where it is accessible. This is a federal crime with a $25,000. fine.

* Since 9/11 there may be secured locations such as federal buildings, state buildings or any place you must pass through security where you cannot have pepper spray.

* Keep all pepper spray products out of reach of children for their protection.

Pepper Spray Restrictions:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts (Residents may only purchase defense sprays from licensed Firearms Dealers in that state, and must hold an firearms identification card to order pepper spray).
  • Michigan: OC Pepper spray can be no stronger then a 2% concentrate (Different companies can sell different concentrations.) CS is the only Tear Gas accepted and can be no larger then 35 grams per can. No combination spray allowed.
  • New Jersey: Pepper Spray can only be 3/4 ounce or less.
  • New York (New York residents may only purchase defense sprays from licensed Firearms Dealers or licensed Pharmacists in that state. Bear Spray and Muzzle Dog Spray can be shipped)
  • Wisconsin: Tear gas is not permissible. Bear Spray and Muzzle Dog Spray can be shipped. By regulation, OC products with a maximum OC concentration of 10% and weight range of oleoresin of capsicum and inert ingredients of 15-60 grams are authorized. This is 1/2 oz. and 2 oz. spray. Further, the product cannot be camouflaged, and must have a safety feature designed to prevent accidental discharge. The units may not have an effective range of over 20 feet and must have an effective range of six feet. In addition there are certain labeling and packaging requirements: must state cannot sell to anyone under 18 and the phone number of the manufacturer has to be on the label. The units must also be sold in sealed tamper-proof packages. (Sorry, all our normal pepper sprays contain either tear gas or UV dye. We cannot ship those to Wisconsin)
  • Pepper Sprays cannot be shipped outside the continental US, which includes Hawaii, US Territories, APO or FPO addresses.
Bear Spray and Muzzle Dog Spray Okay:
  • Michigan
  • New York

ALABAMA: law only involves the criminal use of a noxious substance.

ALASKA: Legal with restrictions. prohibits the sale of a defensive weapon to a person under 18 years of age. Such a defensive weapon cannot be possessed in a school without permission of certain school authorities, unless the person is 21 years of age or older.

ARIZONA: Legal. There is nothing that appears to regulate or prohibit the lawful use.

ARKANSAS: Legal with restrictions. It is legal to possess a small container but the capacity shall not exceed (150cc)” (including 4 oz canister not 1 lb) There is also a specific prohibition against using and spray against the law enforcement officer.

CALIFORNIA: Legal with restrictions. …any person may purchase, possess or use. The restrictions include selling to a minor, and a provision limiting the size to 2.5 ounces by weight. The misuse in California comes with state penalties of up to a $1000 fine and/or up to three years in prison, not to mention a possible felony conviction on record. Some examples of misuse include; spraying on people in anger, as a joke, possession of by prohibited persons; minors, drug addicts or persons convicted of felonies. To be legally purchased, possessed or used in California, any canister must have a label that says "WARNING: The use of this substance or device for any purpose other than self-defense is a crime under the law. The contents are dangerous--use with care." The maximum legal net weight for a canister is 2.5 ounces, or 70 grams of OC, CS or CN. CR is not legal for civilian use.



DELAWARE: Legal with restrictions. defines “disabling chemical spray” However, the only prohibitions are restricting their possession by minors, and increasing the penalty for criminal use of the sprays.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Legal with restrictions. lawful if used or possessed by a person 18 or over “in the exercise of reasonable force in defense of the person or the person’s property only if it is propelled from an aerosol container, labeled with or accompanied by clearly written instructions as to its use, and dated to indicate its anticipated useful life.” The buyer must complete a registration form, and the vendor must forward the form to the Metropolitan Police Department.

FLORIDA: Legal. They are defined as “a device carried solely for purposes of lawful self-defense that is compact in size, designed to be carried on or about the person, and contains not more than two ounces of chemical”. It is an expressly prohibited to use Pepper Spray against a law enforcement officer.


HAWAII: Legal with restrictions. Only OC products are legal for use by or sale to persons 18 and over. There is a ½ ounce size restriction and there are licensing requirements.

IDAHO: Legal.

ILLINOIS: Legal with restrictions. The use of Pepper Spray is legal for carrying by a person 18 years of age or older. In the City of Chicago (a) No person shall use any device to discharge a noxious gas or liquid in an enclosed room in any Class C-1 or Class C-2 Assembly Unit, as defined in Chapter 13-56 of this Code, or in an enclosed room in any restaurant, bar or tavern that is a Class F Assembly Unit as defined in that chapter, if more than 20 persons are present in that room, unless the person is a peace officer, as defined in Section 8-20-30* of this Code, engaged in law enforcement activity. As used in this section, “noxious gas or liquid” means mace, pepper spray or any other substance that is intended or designed to cause irritation to the eyes, nose or mouth, or to cause nausea.


IOWA: Legal.

KANSAS: Legal.



MAINE: Legal. The criminal use of chemical mace or a similar substance is a violation of the law. The use of such a substance in defending one’s person or property is authorized.

MARYLAND: Legal. Allows any person to carry as a reasonable precaution against danger.

MASSACHUSETTS: Legal with restrictions. a license is required. Therefore, the unlicensed sale is illegal in Massachusetts. Massachusetts residents may only purchase from licensed Firearms Dealers in that state. The licensing authority is the local chief of police or other persons authorized by the locality. If you live in or plan on visiting Massachusetts and you want to carry pepper spray legally, their pepper spray law says you must get a FID (Firearms Identification Card). All you do is go to your local Massachusetts police station, show two forms of ID, fill out a form, pay $2, and wait a week. When you get your FID, keep it on your person (and of course, to make the FID useful, keep your pepper spray on your person as well).

MICHIGAN: Legal with restrictions. Michigan law contains size restrictions (no more than 35 grams of CS or no more than 2% OC [different companies can sell different concentrations]), and no combinations of CS and OC. There is a prohibition on sales to minors.

MINNESOTA: Legal. The use of a is permitted “…in the exercise of reasonable force of the person or the person’s property only if it is propelled from an aerosol container, labeled with or accompanied by clearly written instructions as to its use, and dated to indicate its anticipated useful life. The law here gives the right of localities to decide of its legality.


MISSOURI: Legal. It allows the use or possession of a device that ejects a “temporary incapacitating substance”.



NEVADA: Legal with restrictions. Nevada law prohibits possession by minors or felons. For use by adults with no more than 2 fluid ounces in the form of an aerosol spray designed for your protection.



NEW JERSEY: Legal with restrictions. Any non-felon 18 or over may possess for your protection “one pocket-sized device which contains and releases not more than three-quarters of an ounce of chemical substance not capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury, but rather is intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or disability through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air”.

NEW YORK: Legal with restrictions. The possession by persons who are not felons or who have not been convicted of an assault, 18 or over for the protection of person or property and its otherwise lawful use is legal. The definition is “a pocket sized spray device which contains and releases a chemical or organic substance which is intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or disability through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air. There are certain labeling requirements. Sales require both a seller’s license and the completion by a purchaser of a registration form. New York residents may only purchase from licensed Firearms Dealers or licensed Pharmacists in that state. No more than two sprays may be sold at any one time to a single purchaser.

NORTH CAROLINA: Legal with restrictions. Possession and use is lawful for non felons so long as the device does not exceed (150cc)


OHIO: Legal.


OREGON: Legal.

PENNSYLVANIA: Legal. “Chemical mace” is specifically excluded from the definition of weapons. There appears to be no regulation or restriction on their lawful use.

RHODE ISLAND: Legal w/restrictions. “Any person eighteen (18) years of age or over may carry on his or her person and use, unless otherwise prohibited by law, any non-lethal noxious substance or liquid for his protection or the protection of others”.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Legal w/restrictions. It is lawful to possess a container not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters (50cc)



TEXAS: Legal. It is permissible to possess a “small chemical dispenser sold commercially for personal protection.

UTAH: Legal.



WASHINGTON STATE: Legal with restrictions. authorizes the sale and use of Pepper Spray. There is an age restriction to persons age 18 and older, or 14 with a parent or guardian’s permission.


WISCONSIN: Legal with restrictions. UV Dye or combination sprays are not permissible. A “device or container that contains a combination of oleoresin of capsicum and inert ingredients” is permissible. By regulation, OC products with a maximum OC concentration of 10% and weight range of oleoresin of capsicum and inert ingredients of 15-60 grams is authorized. Further, the product can not be camouflaged, and must be designed to prevent accidental discharge. In addition there are certain labeling requirements..


Is pepper spray legal?
In most states pepper spray is legal to possess and carry. You should check with your local law enforcement office or your states Attorney Generals office for any regulations your state may have. There are states where pepper spray is legal but there may be size, age or OC concentration restrictions. You should check on these restrictions as well.

Is there anyplace where I cannot carry my pepper spray?
Yes. You cannot carry pepper spray on board commercial aircraft. This is a Federal crime that can carry up to a $25,000 dollar fine. It is ok to carry pepper spray in your checked baggage although it is highly advisable that you notify the ticketing agent when you check your baggage. Also since 9/11/01 you may have issues when carrying pepper spray into secured locations such as a Federal buildings, State buildings or anyplace where you pass through a security checkpoint. Although there are no laws that we are aware of you should use your common sense here.

How does pepper spray work?
Pepper spray's active ingredient is OC or oleoresin capsicum. The OC is derived from Cayenne peppers these are some of the hottest peppers in the world. Unlike MACE or tear gas, which are irritants, pepper spray OC is an inflammatory agent. Contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, throat and lungs) causes immediate dilation of the capillaries. This can result in temporary blindness and instant inflammation of the breathing tube tissues and systematically cuts of all but life support breathing. OC also will create an intense burning sensation on the surface of the skin. However, OC will cause no lasting after effects. The effects last from 15 to 60 minutes. Because OC is an inflammatory agent and not an irritant it is effective on those who feel no pain such as psychotics and those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

When should I use my pepper spray?
Although no defense item is 100% effective in every situation you will need to assess the situation as it happens. You should ONLY use pepper spray if you are threatened or your life is in danger. please note that it IS a crime to use pepper spray to commit malicious acts.

How do I use my pepper spray?
If you have to use your pepper spray make sure you have distance between you and the threat if at all possible. Aim the spray at the eyes and facial region of the threat then release a 1 to 2 second burst of spray. After you have done this MOVE out of the way but keep your eyes on the threat. Pepper spray can take a couple of moments to cause a reaction and by watching the reactions of the threat you will be able to determine if you will require another shot of pepper spray. Boxers have a saying "Stick and Move" well the same applies here. Just remember "Spray and Move", "Spray and Move". Once the threat is eliminated seek help and call the police.

What is pepper spray made of?
Pepper spray is a derivative of Cayenne pepper. The oils are extracted from the pepper using a high-pressure process. This process leaves you with the active ingredient in pepper spray known as OC or OleoResin Capsicum. The pure pepper extract is then diluted with an inert ingredient that reduces the SHU or Scoville Heat Unit to get it down to a useable SHU for pepper spray. SHU is a unit of measurement that determines how hot something is the rating goes from 1 million SHU up to 5 million SHU. 1 million SHU is detectable on the palette in concentrations as little as 1 part per million or 1 drop of OC in 1 million drops of water. Most of our sprays are 2 million SHU and in much higher concentrations than 1 part per million.

Will my pepper spray expire?
Yes. Usually all other sprays expiration date is 2 to 4 years from the date of purchase. Although the spray life is indefinite it does start to lose potency over time. Any use of the spray beyond the expiration date is HIGHLY unadvisable. We strongly advise you to replace your pepper spray every year! That way you are always assured of the potency of the spray.

How can I be assured my pepper spray will work when I need it?
You should get in the habit of testing your defense spray every 90 days. To do this first go outside and determine which direction the wind is blowing. Remember to always stand upwind from the direction you are spraying. Depress the firing mechanism for ½ second. This test should be performed upon purchase and every 90 days after that. Be aware that every time you test your spray you reduce the contents of the canister. If you are using a key chain model and you test regularly you will need to replace the unit every 9 to 12 months if you follow the recommended testing procedure above.

The contents of this topic was provided by Legal Affairs, who is Solicitor-Attorney of Counsel for the International Private Investigators Union (IPIU) and the Private Investigators Forums. Comments are not intended to be and should absolutely not be taken as legal advice.