Police use tear gas to maintain control of crowds or cause them to disperse. For citizen survival scenarios, you can use tear gas to ward off enemies, disengage dangerous animals, or to make a location temporarily inhabitable by people.
Commercial forms of tear gas are often designated CN (chloroacetophenone) or CS (chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile) and require complicated chemical processes to produce. However, an equivalent tear gas can be made using Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) as the critical component. OC is the eye-stinging oil in red and green peppers. Oleoresin Capsicum irritates nasal passages, forces a victim to breathe through their mouth, and causes choking. It irritates the eyes causing severe tearing and difficulty seeing, and irritate a victim’s skin causing a sensation that feels like the skin is on fire. Although quite painful, tear gas is not lethal and produces no permanent side effects.
How to make tear gas
To make tear gas, we must extract the Oleoresin Capsicum from peppers. To do this, follow these steps.
- Chop up 1 lb. of dried red or green peppers. Throw away stems but try to retain as many veins and seeds as possible (where the OC oil is most concentrated).
- Blend peppers in a blender or crush using a pestle.
- Add enough denatured ethyl alcohol (vodka will work in a pinch) to cover the peppers.
- Place the contents in a pan.
- Place the pan in another pan of water. Do not heat the ethyl alcohol mixture directly and keep it away from flames. Alcohol fumes can easily ignite and cause serious injury.
- Heat the water, then allow it to cool.
- Repeat this process three times.
- Pour the alcohol off into a glass jar (leaving the peppers behind).
- Heat the alcohol until it evaporates to about 100 milliliter.
- Filter off any residual grains or pepper seeds.
- Place mixture in an open container and allow to evaporate overnight.
Alternative methods of making tear gas
With a coffee percolator
It’s a little easier to create tear gas using peppers and alcohol but the resulting oil will not be as concentrated. Still, pepper-based tear gas can be produced using this method in about an hour.
- Grind 4 ounces of red or green pepper into a fine powder.
- Place ground-up peppers in a coffee percolator.
- Add 16 ounces of alcohol.
- Percolate for 30 minutes.
- Distill off the alcohol until only the reddish oil remains.
- Strain off any residual grains or seeds.
Creating tear gas with vinegar is very easy but as with the coffee percolator method, will produce a weaker OC oil.
- Mix chopped-up peppers with white vinegar in a bowl.
- Store the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. The vinegar will leach out the capsicum.
- Add water and mix well.
Acrolein tear gas
To create “acrolein” tear gas, mix 2 ounces of glycerin with 3 ounces of sodium bisulfate (the Sani-flush product works fine). Heat the mixture in a flask. Don’t allow it to froth. If the mixture beings to froth, turn down the heat.
When solids being to form in the bottom of the flask, remove the mixture from the heat source.
If you have chemical apparatuses available, you can use a condenser setup to collect the fumes emitted during cooking of the mixture. The fumes are an excellent source of tear gas vapor.
Peppers, alcohol, vegetable oil and salt tear gas
Tear gas can also be made with alcohol and vegetable oil. Blend about 2 dozen peppers, then combine with 1 ½ cup alcohol and ½ vegetable oil. Let the mixture sit for a day. Filter out any residual pepper pieces, then heat on low heat or set on a windowsill until the alcohol evaporates and the mixture begins to thicken slightly. Finally, mix ¼ cup salt into the mixture to produce an eye-irritating liquid.
“Mace” tear gas
The “mace” tear gas recipe can be made quickly with limited resources. Combine 3 cups of iodine with ½ isopropyl alcohol. Mix in ½ cup salt. In a second container, mix 2 cups glycerin with 2 cups vinegar. Finally, slowly combine the two mixtures. Be careful to not inhale the fumes or let them get into your eyes.
A Formaldehyde-based tear gas does not require preparation. Simply obtain formaldehyde from a drug store and place in a squirt gun. Formaldehyde irritates eyes and the nose similar to tear gas. It evaporates quickly and can make a room uninhabitable for several hours.
How to use homemade tear gas
Pepper spray bomb
Tear gas can be placed in a breakable glass container and thrown to disperse the gas. First, cut down (dilute) the tear gas mixture with mineral oil. Use a ratio of 5% pepper oil and 95% mineral oil.
Place the mixture in a glass container. Perfume bottles make excellent distribution devices.
Throw the container to disperse the gas. Make sure you test in an open area with plenty of ventilation. Once thrown, you can slowly approach the container until you begin to feel the effects of the tear gas.
Pepper spray can be dispersed from spray bottles too. This method is good for close quarter distribution but of course, is riskier to the attacker. Nasal spray bottles work well and are portable and easy to carry in your pocket. Large spray canisters, the ones you use for bug spray, are extremely effective but unwieldy to transport.
What to do if attacked by tear gas
Tear gas is difficult to defend against if you do not have a gas mask available. Still, there are a few things you can do to minimize tear gas’ effects.
- Close eyes and hold breath for as long as possible.
- Move out of the area to higher ground or upwind from the gas source.
- Cover your mouth with a rag soaked with water.
- If you wear contact lenses, remove them immediately.
- Remove clothes and air them out.
- Rinse skin with cold water and soap.
- Rinse eyes with copious amounts of water.