Less-Than-Lethal Chemical Irritant: How REPULS® Compares to OC and CS

Chemical irritants are a standard piece of equipment for law enforcement officers worldwide. But traditional irritant sprays present enormous drawbacks. Let’s discuss the two most common sprays and REPULS compared to pepper spray and tear gas.

REPULS compared to OC CS


Pepper Spray (OC)

Also called mace or OC spray (for oleoresin capsicum), pepper spray was initially developed as a defense against wild animals, which is why you might still hear it referred to as “bear spray.” The active ingredient is capsaicin, the spicy compound found in chili peppers from the genus Capsicum.

Capsaicin is not water-soluble and cannot be flushed out with large volumes of water. Various topical treatments can help soothe the pain, with varying degrees of success. Those exposed to OC spray are often asked to blink a lot to induce the flow of tears to wash away the irritant. But the only real mitigator for OC spray is time.

This is the spray that you’ll find on the duty belt of most officers, although they admit a reluctance to use it. NYPD officers didn’t want to risk pepper spray contaminating themselves or their vehicles. Because the optimal conditions for pepper spray rarely exist, they kept it holstered and defaulted to more escalatory techniques – fists, flashlights, et cetera.

REPULS Compared to OC

REPULS offers law enforcement a more proportionate response to passive resistance.

  • REPULS is water-soluble. The effects can be easily flushed away with water.
  • The effects of REPULS can be mitigated in fewer than five minutes.
  • REPULS has a targeted spray that vastly reduces the risk of blowback to the user.
  • REPULS will not contaminate vehicles during the transportation of the person exposed.


Tear Gas (CS)

Several kinds of irritants and riot control agents are colloquially lumped under the banner of “tear gas.” The most common of these used by police today is chlorobenzylidene malononitrile or CS gas. It’s called “CS” for the names Corson and Stoughton, the scientists who first synthesized the compound in 1928. CS is not a gas; it’s a powder at room temperature. It becomes a cloud that looks like a gas by propellent agents that release it into the air.

CS gas is considered safe to use on civilians, though it has been shown to cause complications for surgical patients exposed to it and life-threatening and long-term health effects on those exposed to CS in an enclosed space.

The best practice for mitigating CS gas from the eyes and nose is with water or a saline solution, but it takes a consistent, steady stream and does not come off quickly. It is equally difficult to remove from any exposed skin – it leaves an oily residue that stings terribly when scrubbed from the skin (dish soap seems to be the favored method).

REPULS Compared to CS

CS gas is an extreme response by law enforcement. Anyone who saw footage of the 2019-2020 democracy protests in Hong Kong can attest to this. In contrast, REPULS offers a humane, while still effective, deterrent.

  • All of the ingredients in REPULS are food-grade and certified environmentally safe.
  • REPULS can be safely used indoors – it is not a fog or aerosol spray and will not obscure any means of egress from a building.
  • REPULS causes mild irritation to the skin and can be easily mitigated with water.