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With the recent surge in violent crimes, and the ensuing air of panic and helplessness, hoaxes aimed at pranking people desperate for protecting themselves and their loved ones have sprung from thin air. One such hoax claims that wasp spray can be used as a replacement against pepper spray products, for instance, bear spray.
As an outdoorsman who has to spend a small fortune on bear repellent each year, I was tempted to explore the possibility myself. Having conducted a lot of painstaking research on this wasp spray vs bear spray debate, I share my discoveries with you to help you make the smart decision.
Key ingredient pyrethrin, poisonous
Chances of permanent damage to attacker
About 20’ range
Mostly illegal for domestic and wild life self defense
Key ingredient capsaicins, not poisonous
Only temporary debilitation of the attacker
Mostly legal for domestic and wildlife self defense
Effectiveness proven by research and trial
Most wasp sprays have pyrethrins as their active ingredients – these are chemical derivatives taken from a chrysanthemum plant species that will target an insect’s nervous system to neutralize it. However, wasp sprays have not been directly tested against humans, so their effects are as yet unknown and they cannot be relied upon for effective non-lethal self-defense.
There is simply no way of telling, as yet, whether the toxic nature of pyrethrin will be more or less harmful to humans than is touted by some self-proclaimed ‘experts’.
Those who advocate the use of bug spray as a substitute for bear spray claim that it is both cheap, and easier to aim over a considerable range. They are right in both regards, since the product is indeed inexpensive compared to bear deterrent, and it is far more precise than bear repellent.
Inexpensiveness aside, the precision can be a two edged sword: while it certainly makes small work of bugs, trying to aim carefully at a bear’s face while it charges at you could turn into a lesson in futility that none of us would want to learn.
Furthermore, lots of jurisdictions have made it illegal to use non-pepper spray products for self-defense – this includes wasp killers. In fact, you’ll find explicit warnings on most insecticides and pesticides, stating that using them in a manner other than specified on their label is a violation of federal law.
And if you’re thinking that it won’t be a big punishment, since you’re only using it for protecting yourself, remember that wasp spray is essentially a poison, and consider this example taken straight from the Oklahoma state legislature.
§21651. Poison, attempt to kill by administering.Any person who, with intent to kill, administers or causes or procures to be administered to another any poison which is actually taken by such other person but by which death is not caused shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not less than ten (10) years.
In simple words, you could end up serving a ten year sentence (or greater) if you poison someone by spraying bug spray on them inadvertently and, perhaps even deliberately for the sake of defense! Most other states in North America enforce similar penalties.
The active ingredients in bear deterrent are derivatives of capsaicin, the stuff responsible for giving chilli peppers their fiery flavor. It also contains oleoresin capsicum, which is also present in all other pepper spray products. Basically, the effect of these core ingredients is to temporarily debilitate the aggressing party by inflaming their eyes, nose, and skin – resulting in a loss of sight, smell and breath, as well as burning pain.
Canisters of bear spray with a range equivalent to or greater than that of wasp spray are readily available, and they work by creating a cloud of fiery OC derivative that can stop a large animal / human dead in their tracks. This method of self-preservation carries no risk of poisoning, for the attacker or for the would-be victim.
The effectiveness of bear deterrent at stopping attackers has been well documented and researched over several decades of use, which is why it is recommended as a suitable self-defense product against bears and other large animals by several wildlife agencies and independent researchers.
In Canada, you can’t use (or keep) bear spray for use against humans – it is against the law. I’d still recommend sticking with another pepper spray product over wasp spray though, for reasons discussed before.
Now that you’ve got a clear idea about the difference between bear spray and wasp spray, I’m sure you will agree with me that it is a capitally bad idea to forego bear repellent (or any other pepper spray product for that matter) in favor of wasp spray. Wasp spray is poisonous, and it is a largely untested hazard against humans (because it hasn’t been designed for use against them); not only does this make it illegal to use for the sake self-defense against humans in many states, it also makes it dangerous for the wielder, in case they misfire and hit themselves instead of the assailant.
Bear spray, has a proven track record of effectiveness against bears, as well as many other large animals. While there hasn’t been any significant research on its effectiveness on humans, the fact that it shares a large part of its composition with regular OC spray, combined with plenty of anecdotal accounts of its success against human attackers, indicates that it will definitely be more effective against humans than wasp spray. Besides, it won’t cause any lasting harm, to the attacker or to yourself (in case you misfire in the heat of the moment).
Just remember that bear deterrent, if used indoors and in close quarters, could cause some painful inconvenience for the wielder themselves, and will definitely make the room it is used in non-habitable for quite some time!
If you’ve got further queries regarding the bear spray vs wasp spray discussion, I’d be more than happy to entertain them in the comments section below.
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