How to Dispose of Pepper Spray (the right way)

In today’s unpredictably scary world, it’s always a great idea to carry pepper spray with you. You must know how to use it to ward off any potential threats while out and about.

You also need to learn how to dispose of expired pepper spray the right way. This is because it’s considered to be a hazardous waste product, which needs to be discarded carefully.

So, let’s explore how to dispose of pepper spray correctly!

How to Dispose of Pepper Spray

There are three potential ways in which you can dispose of pepper spray. When disposing of pepper spray, you need to research your locality, city, or state’s waste recycling laws.

This way, you can easily determine which disposal method is considered appropriate in your area.

Let’s take a look into the different ways in which you can dispose of pepper spray:

Empty the Container at Home and Dump the Can into the Trash

In most cities and states, it’s acceptable to dispose of an empty pepper spray container by throwing it in the trash. If your container has leftover expired pepper spray, you will have to release its contents and pressure.

The safest way to do this is to take the pepper spray canister outside. Stand in a well-ventilated spot where there’s no headwind. This way, you can rest assured that the spray won’t blow back into your face.

Hold the canister at arms’ length and spray the pepper spray against a concrete, rock, or grassy surface. It should be a surface that is not frequented by your pets or small children. Make sure to keep spraying until the container is empty.

After emptying the container, you can simply toss it into the trash. Emptying the aerosol canister ensures that it doesn’t explode. It also ensures that the pepper spray doesn’t come into contact with any unsuspecting individual.

Put the Pepper Spray inside a Zip-Lock Bag and Throw It into the Trash

If you don’t feel safe emptying the can at home, then there’s another disposal method that you can try. Put the canister with its remaining spray inside a heavy-duty zip-lock bag.

Seal the bag as tightly as possible. Put the sealed bag into a garbage bag and throw the bag in your trash.

This certainly isn’t the ideal method to dispose of pepper spray, however, it will ensure that the spray canister doesn’t burst on its way to the landfill.

Just make sure that you get in touch with your city’s waste pickup service to confirm if they accept such hazardous waste.

Contact Your Local Waste Disposal Service for Safe Disposal

The safest way to dispose of pepper spray is to get in touch with your local waste disposal service.

Many cities have designated waste pickup facilities with set guidelines for household hazardous waste products such as pepper spray.

If you reach out to them, you can find out if they offer any facility for the proper disposal of expired pepper spray.

You can find out if your city’s landfill collects such waste. Oftentimes, they do collect such items and charge a minimal fee for them.

Just make sure that your spray canister has its original cap on. If the spray is leaking, you must put it in a plastic container with a secure lid.

You can then haul the canister to the waste disposal site. Just make sure to keep the spray canister in a well-ventilated area such as the bed of a truck.

Contact the disposal service beforehand to ensure that you have followed the protocol for proper disposal.

Why You Should Not Dump Pepper Spray Directly into the Trash

Pepper spray is considered to be a household hazardous waste product. Hazardous materials can have any of the following properties:

  • Combustible
  • Ignitable
  • Reactive
  • Toxic
  • Corrosive

Since pepper sprays are contained in an aerosol canister, they are highly combustible. This is why you should never throw your pepper spray canister into the trash directly.

You run the risk of the canister exploding. Similarly, you can’t incinerate the canister either as it will explode and cause damage.

You also can’t throw it into the trash directly due to the risk of exposure. You don’t want an unaware sanitary worker to get exposed to the spray. This is why it’s best to dispose of the spray as safely as possible.

What Makes Pepper Spray So Hazardous?

Apart from the obvious risk of explosion, the contents of the spray are hazardous as well. The active ingredient in pepper spray is highly concentrated capsaicin.

This is the compound that is responsible for the heat in peppers. It can incapacitate the affected individual by causing them a great deal of pain.

When sprayed directly into the eyes, it can also cause blindness due to abrasions to the cornea.

According to the National Poison Control Center, pepper spray will irritate your skin, eyes, and mucus membranes in your upper respiratory tract.

If you inhale the spray, you might start to cough, feel irritation in your nose and throat, and get a runny nose.

What to Do If You Have Accidentally Exposed Your Eyes or Skin to Pepper Spray

If you get exposed to some pepper spray while emptying its canister or transporting one that is leaking, then you need to take the following steps right away:

Stay as Calm as Possible

Once your skin has been exposed to pepper spray, you can experience the symptoms right away or even a few hours later. It’s inarguably going to be painful.

However, you need to stay calm and focus on treating the affected area. Focus on your breathing and remember that the pain will subside eventually.

Rinse the Affected Areas with Cold Water Right Away

Since pepper-spray is oil-based, it’s quite difficult to wah off. However, you need to rinse the affected areas, such as eyes, face, and hands, with cold water right away.

If you’re wearing contacts, then discard them right away. Blink vigorously to stimulate your tears. Using cold water vigorously will help you prevent the capsaicin in the spray from further flaring up.

You can also flush your eyes with a saline solution to minimize the burning sensation. Don’t rub the affected areas and don’t touch them either.

This way, you can avoid spreading the spray to other parts of your body. Remove all clothing and don’t bandage the affected areas either. They need to be exposed to air.

Wash Your Body with Soap and Water

After rinsing the affected areas, you should also wash them with soap and water. Soap will wash away the leftover oils that the old water isn’t able to wash away. Just don’t rinse your eyes with soap as it will aggravate the burning.

Remove Your Clothes and Wash Them Several Times

You must get rid of the clothes that you’re wearing as well. If you are wearing a shirt that needs to be pulled off above your head, then it’s better to cut it off.

This will help you avoid needless discomfort. You must wash the affected clothes several times as thoroughly as possible.

Helpful Tips on Using Pepper Spray Correctly

When you invest in a good-quality pepper spray, you need to use it as safely as possible. This will protect you from accidentally coming into contact with the spray. It will also ensure that you use it properly. Here are some tips to help you use pepper spray safely and effectively:

  • Before getting pepper spray, research the laws in your state. Even though pepper sprays are legal in all states, some states and cities have specific restrictions on them. They range from the potency of the spray to its ingredients.
  • Always read the expiry date of the spray. Using expired pepper spray will do you no good. This is because the expired product loses its potency. Even if the spray has retained its heat, it might lose its pressure. If your spray doesn’t have an expiry date, then it’s best to discard it after 3 to 4 years.
  • Check the maximum range of the spray so that you can maximize its efficiency.
  • Learn how to grip and activate the spray properly. Some sprays come with built-in finger grips to help better your aim. Some sprays have a safety fixture that slides from left to right, while others have a flip-top safety.
  • You must get comfortable using the spray so that when the time comes, you can simply rely on your instinct to use it.
  • Test your spray every three months or so to ensure that it’s as effective as possible. Test the spray outdoors in an area where the wind is blowing from behind you. You only need to fire a half-second burst to test it.

Pepper sprays are biohazardous waste products that need to be disposed of properly. You can empty the container and throw it in the bin.

Alternatively, you can contact your local waste pickup services to get rid of the spray safely. Follow the aforementioned tips to use the spray as safely as possible.

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