What Does Bear Spray Do to Humans: An Expert Explains!

Bear spray has been proven to be an effective way to stop or prevent a bear attack. Since they are similar in action, you might be wondering whether you can use bear spray as an alternative to pepper spray.

What does bear spray do to humans? Bear spray can cause inflammation of the eyes, nose, and lungs, leading to pain in the affected areas. Bear spray can also cause severe nausea, difficulty in breathing, and short-term blindness.

In a paper on the effect of capsicum, doctors from the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine mentioned that the sprays cause immediate irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Capsicum is the major ingredient in both bear and pepper sprays, and it does not have life-threatening effects when used on people.

Can You Use Bear Spray on Humans for Self Defense?

Bear spray should not be used on humans for self-defense because it can cause inflammation of the nose and eyes, and even lead to temporary blindness. 

While bear attacks are not a common occurrence, they still happen, particularly in the wild. It is more likely for people who live in locations with high bear concentrations to get attacked. The most common bear species that attack people are brown bears, black bears, and polar bears.

Most people that have been attacked by bears are miners, joggers, campers, and researchers, as the nature of their activities makes them come in close contact with the animals. While most bear attacks occur outdoors in the wild, occasional incidents happen within people’s homes and even at the zoo.

In a bid to reduce the fatality of bear attacks, bear spray has been developed to stop bear attacks. A lot of people also prefer using bear spray instead of firearms because, unlike guns, bear spray does not kill or seriously injure the bear being repelled.

The function of bear spray is to serve as a repellant, discouraging a bear from starting or proceeding with an attack. When used on a bear, it affects the eyes, nose, and lungs, causing inflammation and serious irritation. These effects are highly effective at keeping bears at bay.

Since the function of bear spray is like that of pepper spray, you might be wondering whether bear spray can be used on a person in case of danger. However, bear spray is a lot more powerful than pepper spray and should ideally not be used on people.

The active ingredient in both bear spray and pepper spray is capsaicin, which is also the active ingredient found in chili pepper. The concentration of capsaicin in some bear sprays can be up to three times that of regular pepper spray, making it dangerous.

Apart from the difference in the concentration of capsaicin, bear spray is also designed to shoot a lot farther than regular pepper spray. Depending on the manufacturer, shape, and size of pepper spray, it can shoot up to a distance between 6 ft and 12 ft.

On the other hand, bear spray is more advanced, and many products can shoot as far as 30 ft and 35 ft. This high range makes bear spray a lot more devastating than pepper spray, meaning the effect will be a lot more pronounced if used on a person from close range.

Another major difference in the structure of bear spray and pepper spray is the shape in which the deterrent is dispensed. Pepper spray is often released in a simple stream to hit a target’s face directly. On the other hand, bear spray is given off in a widespread fog pattern.

The wide pattern of bear spray makes it almost 100% certain for the spray to get into the animal’s eyes, nose, and mouth. These factors listed above highlight just how different bear spray is from pepper spray, making it inappropriate for use on humans.

Bear spray should be avoided when the choice is given, at least for usage on a human. Sticking to pepper spray is more than enough to deter would-be attackers. Check out the company Vexor, who boasts a self-defense pepper spray that provides police level quality and defense capability. Click here to learn more!

Will Bear Spray Stop a Human Attacker?

Yes, using bear spray will stop a human attacker, but it is very unnecessary and unsafe, as the concentration of capsaicin in bear spray is way above that of regular pepper spray.

In the first heading, we considered why bear spray is a lot more superior to pepper spray and why it should not be used on a person. The concentration of capsaicin, the range of the spray, and the volume are among the factors that make bear spray immensely powerful and dangerous to use on a person.

If you are wondering whether bear spray will stop a human attacker, then your answer is a solid yes. In fact, using bear spray on a person is overkill, as regular pepper spray will suffice. Using bear spray on a person will not only hurt severely, but it can also cause blindness, either temporarily or permanent.

It is not surprising that bear spray can be excessive if you are looking for defense against a human attacker. When it comes to stopping or preventing attacks from bears, bear spray has been known to have a 98% success rate.

A lot of bears weigh a lot more than 1000 pounds. If bear spray can be that successful at stopping large, angry animals, then humans stand no chance against such a powerful repellant.

Based on personal accounts of someone who accidentally got bear spray on his face, the repellant has a lot of excessively unpleasant reactions. Here is a breakdown of the concentration levels of capsaicin in bear spray when compared to pepper spray, explaining why it can be very harmful to people.

The unit used to measure the strength of peppers is the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU). Habanero peppers are among the hottest pepper types out there, and a piece of habanero pepper contains about 200,000 SHUs.

On the other hand, regular pepper sprays give off about 1 million SHUs, which is about five times the concentration of habanero pepper. In comparison, some bear sprays boast a whopping 3 million SHUs, making their potency a lot higher than is safe for humans.

Even if the volume of capsaicin in bear spray is not a lot higher than that of pepper spray, the way the cans release spray is enough reason to be wary of them. When you consider that bear spray can shoot as far as three to five times the distance of pepper spray, you will realize that a deterrent with that much power should not be used on a person.

Good Sprays To Use On Attackers

Sprays many recommend for self defense, and other situations:Majorities opinion:
Sabre/Red SabreGood for small/medium targets. Such as dogs and humans. They also are small enough to be considered keychains, making them more versatile than most.
Fox LabsRecorded to be using one of the hottest and strongest pepper sprays available for wide use, and also how it can blind most if not all targets that aren’t considered to be huge animals.
Mace Brand Its amazingly mobile capabilities is what makes Mace have its trademark usage. You can store it virtually anywhere such as even putting it in your pockets. Its a quick and easy to use holdout for when you need something reliable.

What Happens If You Inhale Bear Mace?

If you inhale bear mace, it can cause painful sensations in your nose and throat, leading to inflammation, hardship in breathing, and sometimes, nausea and vomiting.

Due to the presence of capsaicin in bear mace, you can experience instant irritation in your mouth, nose, and throat if you inhale bear mace. This irritation can be extremely painful and uncomfortable.

Other negative effects of inhaling bear mace include chest pain, dizziness, a dry cough, gagging, and wheezing.

How Far Does Bear Spray Shoot?

Bear spray can shoot as far as 30 to 35 ft. This long-range action of bear sprays is important because it can help you repel bears that are far away, without letting them get close to you.

One major difference between pepper spray and bear spray is the speed at which they spray out the repellent. This difference in speed also causes them to have varying ranges when released from the can.

While pepper spray covers between 6 and 12 ft, bear spray can go as far as 30 to 35 ft. When you consider that you might need to use bear spray when a bear is charging at you at full speed, then this long-range feature becomes very vital and potentially lifesaving.

If a bear is running towards you, it is advised to start spraying bear spray when it is about 30 to 60 ft away from you. This way, the bear will encounter a cloud of bear spray before it even gets close to you.

Not all bear spray can even reliably reach beyond 20 feet, but this choice from Counter Assault can reach up to 40 feet. For more information, look here!

How Long Do the Effects of Bear Spray Last on Humans?

The effects of bear spray can last on humans for up to 45 minutes. However, if you follow proper first aid procedures, it is possible to experience pain relief within a shorter period.

Bear spray is not only dangerous because of how painful its effects can be, but also because of how long these effects might last. None of the effects of using bear spray are permanent and can clear out within 45 minutes.

However, bear spray can cause lasting damage to the eyes. Bear spray releases repellant at an exceedingly high speed. If it is used on a person’s face from a close distance, it can damage the eyes, causing permanent blindness.

What To Do If You Get Bear Spray on You?

If you get bear spray on you, the specific area should be washed and flushed with cool water for at least 15 minutes, as this can provide some relief. This is only an emergency procedure, as you should seek proper medical help.

As discussed earlier in this piece, there are a lot of painful, uncomfortable reactions that a person can have if they encounter bear spray. These effects include chest pain, dizziness, a burning sensation, shortness of breath, gagging, and even unconsciousness.

If you or someone around you encounters bear spray, either on their skin or in their eyes or nose, the resulting discomfort will require immediate attention. Since bear spray and pepper spray share the same active ingredient, capsaicin, you can treat a situation where you are affected by bear spray, the same way as you would pepper spray.

If you get bear spray on your face, here are some steps to take to help remedy the situation.

  • Leave the immediate area

While this might be difficult because of the pain you might face, it is important to move away from the exact area where the bear spray was used. Moving away is necessary because some of the capsaicin might still be hanging around in the air.

If you remain in the area, you might keep getting bear spray in your eyes, nose, and mouth, making your situation worse.

  • Wash your face

Cleaning up your face is the best step for you to take, as it can help reduce a lot of the pain that you might encounter. Using a cool, wet cloth, gently clean your face, getting most of the bear spray off your face.

However, before cleaning, you should be careful to ensure that there’s no bear spray on your hands because it can make your eyes get even more irritated. You should ensure that you only use clean, cool water since soap can also irritate your eyes.

  • Flush your eyes

Getting bear spray out of your eyes is quite important, and the best way to do this is to flush out your eyes. This procedure can be made easy if you have access to cool running water.

By flushing out your eyes for over 15 minutes, you can get most of the capsaicin out of your eyes, giving you some relief.

On the other hand, if bear spray encounters your skin and does not go into your eyes or mouth, there are other ways to combat the situation.

  • Leave the immediate area

Just like if bear spray gets in your eyes, you should move away if it gets on your skin instead. Moving away reduces the risk of getting further exposure to the irritant, increasing your chances of getting relief.

  • Remove affected clothing

If any of your clothes have been touched by the bear spray, you should take them off. This way, you can reduce the odds of the bear spray spreading to other parts of your body through your clothes.

Any piece of clothing that comes into contact with bear spray will need to be washed properly before being worn again.

  • Wash affected area

The area of your skin that is affected by bear spray should be washed with cool, soapy water, for at least 15 minutes. This can help reduce the amount of capsaicin on your skin and provide relief. You can also use a pepper spray reliever or apply milk to the affected area since it can help with the irritation.

You should note that all the measures mentioned above should only be followed as immediate remedies that can help you ease some of the pain. Whether or not you feel better after a while, you should contact proper medical staff for detailed evaluation and potential treatment.

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