Pepper spray is a simple and effective self-defense tool.

It’s easy to carry, and it’s easy to use. If you’re like most people, you probably bought yourself some pepper spray years ago and still carry it around with you today.

It should still work just fine, right? Maybe, maybe not…

So When Does Pepper Spray Expire Then?

Yes. Pepper spray does expire, but not for reasons that you might think.

It’s not the pepper spray itself, but rather the canister that makes the spray ineffective after a while.

Over time, pepper spray canisters start to lose pressure.

Once that pressure is lost, it becomes difficult or impossible to spray the pepper spray at an attacker.

Why does this happen, you ask?

Pepper spray canisters rely on aerosol propellant to shoot out its contents. But this propellent may leak out over time, making it impossible to spray the contents inside.

Aerosol propellant leaks can affect all canister sizes, but they tend to be more common among smaller canister sizes (i.e. the ones you carry on keychains or in your bag).

So, how can you tell if your self-defense spray has expired? Fortunately, you don’t have to just hope and pray that your spray works each time you go out for a run or walk.

Most pepper spray canisters have expiration dates printed on the bottom or somewhere else on the bottle. It’s important to pay attention to these expiration dates and replace your pepper spray when your old one has expired. Otherwise, you’re taking a chance that your self-defense spray won’t work when you need it most.

Pepper Spray Expirations

How Long Does Pepper Spray Last?

Expiration dates can vary, but most pepper sprays have 3-year expiration dates.

This means that you’ll need to replace your spray about every 36 months.

Some pepper sprays have shorter expiration dates (2 years) and others a little longer (4 years). Be sure to check the canister for a date.

Storage Matters

Expiration dates are just one piece of the puzzle. Storage will also affect the potency of the spray and the longevity of the canister.

Pepper spray should be stored at room temperature. Don’t leave your spray in the car or anywhere where it will be exposed to extreme temperatures. Extreme hot and cold can cause the canister to leak or even explode.

One good way to make sure your pepper spray is stored at the right temperature is to keep it with you at all times. A keychain is a great way to do this. Think about it – your keys are always either in your house, or on your person at all times. This also helps ensure that your spray is always in easy reach when you need it.

Test Your Spray Regularly

Even if your pepper spray hasn’t reached its expiration date, it’s important to test it regularly. Experts recommend testing your spray every 90-180 days.

Just bear in mind that each time you test your spray, you’re reducing the contents in the canister. This doesn’t mean that you should skip the testing step, but you may have to replace your spray more often if you’re testing regularly. If you have a small canister, like the kind that fits on a keychain, you may have to replace it every year or 18 months because of testing.

Testing your pepper spray is important because it ensures that your spray and canister are still working as intended. You don’t want to test the effectiveness of your pepper spray when someone is attacking you.

The best time to test your spray is on a calm day. Check to see which way the wind is blowing, and make sure that you stay upwind. Once you’ve found a good position, hold down the spray button for 0.5 seconds. That’s it!

If the canister is having trouble spraying or isn’t working at all, it’s time to replace it. Better to find out that the canister doesn’t work while you’re testing it than to find out the hard way when you’re being attacked.

Testing your pepper spray is easy. Don’t forget to do it every 90-180 days to ensure your spray is working properly.

In addition to testing your pepper spray on a regular basis, you may also want to create a reminder to replace your spray when it gets close to the expiration date.