Tear Gas vs. Pepper Spray

The two biggest differences between tear gas spray and pepper spray are their chemical makeup and delivery methods. Pepper spray (sometimes referred to as “OC spray“) is a combination of natural chemicals, whereas tear gas (also called “CS gas“) comes from man-made compounds. Learn more about the different effects of each type of spray.

Tear Gas Spray and Pepper Spray: Compare and Contrast

Pepper spray and tear gas spray are both non-lethal irritants commonly used in self-defense and crowd control. While some people use the terms interchangeably, it is important to note that tear gas and pepper spray are not the same product, and each has its own unique chemical distinctions.

Pepper Spray

Chemical makeup: The active ingredient in pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). OC is not a man-made chemical, it is created from the active compound in hot peppers, capsaicin.

Delivery methods: Pepper spray has 5 delivery methods: stream, cone mist, fogger, foam, and gel.

  • Stream: The stream method has the largest range, which enables you to keep a significant distance between you and your attacker. Apex Self Defense Products compares the stream method as similar to that of a garden hose — “a lot of pepper spray being forced through a small opening in short amount of time.”
  • Cone mist: The cone mist method dispenses pepper spray in a wide circular range, similar to that of a hair spray aerosol can.
  • Fogger. Similar to the stream method, the fogger creates a spray pattern. However, the spray pattern used in a fogger is made up of finer droplets that can linger in the air longer.
  • Foam. Pepper foam looks like shaving cream and can completely cover the face of your attacker. Its range is around 8 to 10 feet.
  • Gel. Similar to pepper foam, pepper gel is used to cover an attacker’s face. The consistency is sticky and glue-like.

Physical Effects: Uncontrollable watering of the eyes, extreme burning of the eyes and nose, temporary blindness, nasal and sinus discharge, burning of the skin, increase in blood pressure. In most cases, the symptoms of pepper spray last no longer than 45-60 minutes.

Tear Gas Spray

Chemical makeup: The active chemical compounds found in tear gas are most commonly 0-Chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile (CS) or 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CN). Often referred to as CS or CN gas, it is important to note that CS and CN are not gasses, but are synthetic organic halogen compounds that have a powder-like consistency at room temperature.

Delivery methods: The most common delivery method of tear gas is CS or CN “grenades” which explode and release the compound into the air.

Physical effects: Extreme burning of the nose, eyes, and throat, involuntary closing of the eyes, coughing, rise in blood pressure, mucus secretion, nausea, and vomiting. In most cases, the symptoms of tear gas spray subside within 30 minutes.

Tear Gas Vs. Pepper Spray: The Aftereffects

The only thing more terrifying than being tear gassed or pepper sprayed is being tear gassed or pepper sprayed in your own home or place of business. When it comes to the aftereffects of a CS, CN, or CO attack, one thing is true for all: you will need professional help to clean up the mess.

Even after the physical effects to your body have worn off, the physical effects to your property will still require remediation. Sites that have not been properly cleaned after a tear gas spray or pepper spray incident can harbor CS, CN or CO and cause ongoing symptoms for current or future residents.

Aftermath uses state-of-the-art technology and strict control procedures to carefully wash affected surfaces, and remove damaged walls, floors, and surface coverings to restore your property to a healthy state.

For more information on how Aftermath approaches tear gas removal, contact us anytime!




From Orlando to Charlotte, Aftermath provides professional biohazard, crime scene and coronavirus cleanup services to families, employers, and communities. We are dedicated to providing emergency rapid response 24/7/365, so we’ll be there whenever and wherever you need us. When you find yourself asking “What now?”… call Aftermath.