What is Bear Spray?

What is Bear Spray?

What is Bear Spray? If you’re ever going on a camping, hiking, or even fishing trip it is highly recommended that you take a bear spray. If you’re going on your first camping or hiking trip you might not even know that bear spray exists. So, what is bear spray and what is it used for, you might ask. Bear spray is an aerosol spray deterrent of aroused and aggressive bears. It is composed of the same active ingredients as pepper spray, but since the concentration of these ingredients is almost twice as high, it is more potent, and can even be considered a weapon against humans. Bear spray is designed to release chemicals further than thirty feet and remain in the air, so you can have better chances of hitting the bear.

How to use Bear Spray

A brown bear in its natural setting.

Bear sprays are only to be used on attacking bears. Do not try to approach a quiet and nonviolent bear thinking that the bear spray will keep you safe. It’s important to be prepared and practice how to use bear spray beforehand as if you are unprepared and a bear attacks you might be nervous and not use the spray correctly.

The first step when using bear spray is to remove the safety clip, and right after position your thumb in front of the bent lip and pull it backward. Make sure you are holding the spray can strongly so that it won’t go up as you are spraying it. When using bear spray you don’t necessarily have to aim it at the bear, just point it downwards in front of the attacking bear when it’s about sixty feet away from you, and the bear will most likely meet the spray cloud thirty feet away from you.

Ensure that your bear spray is always placed somewhere easy to grab in case of a bear attack. Some bears can run up to thirty miles per hour so the spray must be of easy access in case of emergencies.

Is bear spray dangerous to humans? 

Bear spray is dangerous to humans and can affect them in similar ways that it affects bears. If you’re ever contaminated with it, you might experience your nose and lungs being swollen and irritated. Your eyes will uncontrollably close and tear, your nose will run, and you will cough.

What to do if exposed to bear spray?

If you inhale bear spray immediately go somewhere where you can inhale fresh air. If the spray gets in your eyes, you should rinse it with cold water for about fifteen to twenty minutes, and if you don’t have water available, blink fast and don’t touch your eyes.

After you’re exposed you should closely monitor your side effects. It might take up to forty-five minutes for all of the effects to go away. If you’re experiencing chest pain, cold sweats, or short breathing immediately seek medical attention.

Is bear spray dangerous to bears?

When an attacking bear meets the spray cloud it inhales all of its active ingredients, causing the bear to be irritated and distracted. Bear spray has immediate effects, causing the bear’s throat to become narrow and irritated, which consequently makes him cough and choke. The bear will also lose his sense of smell and will have limited airflow to his lungs. His vision will be blurry and his ears will start ringing. All of the effects of the bear spray are temporary, as it is only intended to divert the bear’s charge and no bear spray has even been reported to kill a bear.

Are all bear sprays the same?

No, not all bear sprays are the same. They differ in spray duration and distance, and the quality of the spray formulation. There are also specific bear sprays for cold temperatures since not all of them will work in cold weather, so it’s really important to read the label of the spray before purchasing it if you’re planning to hike or camp somewhere cold.

Which type of bear spray is the best to carry around?

The recommended bear spray to carry around when going hiking or camping are those that spray at least thirty feet and spray for at least seven seconds.


A bear leaning against a tree.
Image Source: Pixabay

Whether you are going camping or hiking, or somewhere where you might have an aggressive encounter with a bear, it is always important to be prepared for them. We have listed some of the best bear sprays in the market, so you can be safe!

Written by Carolina Thompson

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