How Tear Gas and Pepper Spray are Deployed


  • Pepper spray (OC) is a chemical irritant applied to crowds via spray or pump bottles, or may be directly applied to the eyes and other sensitive membranes of locked down activists. Often the cops need to be within a few meters of their target.
Pepper spray

  •  It can come in small or large hand-held dispensers (like mace), or from large tanks.
  • They come in different strengths or concentrations from mild to very strong.
  • There are some guns that fire small  pepper spray balls that explode on impact.
  • Since pepper spray is often sprayed at a close distance, the police may try to:
    • Physically remove your goggles/ breathing protection.
    • Spray between your face and your goggles/mask (which if your hands are locked down, makes them a trap for the chemical). 
These cops are getting gassed by their own tear gas probably returned
 to them by a protester who politely declined their gift. (Photo: La Presse)

  • Tear gas (CS& CN) are solids at room temperature, and must be heated or sprayed to reach large numbers of people. 
  • Tear gas is emitted from canisters which are fired into or near crowds. They look like a smoke bomb has gone off - emitting grey-white smoke which blows in the direction of the wind. The canisters become extremely hot. Pick up only with heavy duty gloves. Be extremely careful that you don't throw it into a group of your allies. And be aware that the time it takes you to throw it will allow you to be heavily exposed. 
  • Tear gas is not a gas! but a particulate (powder). This is important as the particles fall to the ground, or when blown into a store or a house, get trapped in the furniture, rugs, etc.. The tear gas particles remain toxic and noxious until cleaned away.


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