Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane (TSA Rules) [2022]

can you bring pepper spray on a plane
can you bring pepper spray on a plane

Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane? (TSA Rules) [2022]

Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane? Many travelers carry pepper spray and mace as self-defense items. The problem with bringing these things on a plane is that they can be very difficult to carry on, especially if you are not aware of TSA/FAA regulations and how airlines handle them.

On this page, I will explain everything you need to know about legally bringing pepper spray and mace through airport security and onto a plane.

Can you Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane?

can you bring pepper spray on a plane

You may be allowed to check in one 4 fl. oz. (118 ml) bottle in your checked baggage, so long as it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge and the tear gas content is less than 2 percent by weight (CS or CN). Pepper spray is not permitted as a carry-on item with any airline.

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One 4 Fluid Ounce Container

You may not fill a container larger than 4 fluid ounces or 118 milliliters (this is different from the liquid rule). Pepper spray in this size can be found on keychains and in many purses, but remember to keep it out of your purse while passing through security.

It’s critical to keep in mind that the container size requirement isn’t based on the amount of liquid inside. In that case, even if you thought your 8-ounce container was 40% full (with under four ounces of “fluid” inside), it would not be compliant with TSA rules.

It’s easy to find pepper spray containers on Amazon that contain four fluid ounces or less.

When purchasing pepper spray, many people consider two major factors: bursts and range. This limit would likely reduce these factors significantly.

As a result, you may not be able to shoot as many bursts at a potential offender, and your range may be shorter. Then you might want to consider picking up pepper spray at your destination if that is possible if those two things are very meaningful to you. Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane?

Safety Mechanism

To prevent accidental discharge, the pepper spray should have a safety mechanism.

As an unsuspecting TSA agent searching through your luggage, you can imagine how bad that could get. There are certain brands that almost always include safety mechanisms, so if you choose the right brand, this shouldn’t be a problem.

For your pepper spray to be allowed on a plane, make sure that there is a cover or cap to the trigger as the FAA and law clearly state “a recessed button can’t be the only safety feature; a flip-up cap must also be included.” Therefore, to ensure that your pepper spray is allowed on the plane, make sure that there is a cap or cover to the trigger.

Search for terms such as “safety switch” in the description and you should be good to go.

For your container, you may also want to consider buying a case or a sheath. Although it is not likely to substitute for a safety mechanism, it could provide an additional layer of protection against accidental discharge.

2% Tear Gas

One critical limitation is the requirement that the spray does not exceed 2% of the mass of teargas. It is not permitted to check your mace or pepper spray in checked luggage if the weight exceeds this.

CS or CN is explicitly excluded from this 2% limitation in the TSA and the FAA. Nevertheless, they do not refer to Oleoresin capsicum (OC) in any way.

You can find the percentage on the label of any good mace or pepper spray manufacturer, so you just need to check it.

For example, here is how it might look:

According to this CS percentage level, this would NOT be permitted on a plane.

Why is Pepper Spray Restricted on Planes?

can you bring pepper spray on a plane

Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane? Both mace and pepper spray can be utilized as self-defense weapons. Using these weapons could easily cause injuries to passengers or crew members. Hijackers used mace during 9/11.

Pepper spray has been accidentally deployed in aircraft cabins in instances when TSA agents do not detect it in a carry-on, for example, on United flight 1061 to Newark, NJ, which created breathing issues and a lot of coughing for passengers, not something welcome in the era of COVID.

Therefore, it makes sense that defense sprays wouldn’t be allowed in the aircraft cabin.

Additionally, flammability could be an issue. Pepper sprays are normally not flammable. Aerosol propellants, however, can make it highly flammable when used in aerosol form.

Mace Versus Pepper Spray

You should be aware that self-defense spray containers contain a variety of chemicals, and that TSA restricts certain types.

Pepper spray and mace contain three common types of substances:

  • 2-Chloroacetophenone (CN),
  • o-chlorobenzylidene malonitrile (CS)
  • oleoresin capsicum (OC)

Both pepper spray and mace work in a similar way, but they aren’t the same. Pepper spray may be more effective in subduing drug- and alcohol-abusing people since it is a stronger inflammatory agent. People under the influence of these drugs or alcohol may be more resistant to pepper spray after using it.

Oleoresin capsicum (OC) is typically used in pepper sprays. 2Chloroacetophenone (CN) is the most toxic of the three ingredients used by Mace. It is possible that some containers contain a combination of these substances for extra potency, so keep your eyes peeled for those.

As long as you abide by the above restrictions, pepper spray and mace are allowed. From the restrictions above, you can see that pepper spray containing more than 2% of CN or CS is not permitted.

Tip: It is wise to check the expiration date of pepper spray before traveling due to its short shelf life.

Is Pepper Spray Legal in Every State?

It is likely that you will be curious if pepper spray is legal in a state before deciding whether to travel through airport security and arrive there.

Almost every state makes pepper spray legal or has no laws against it, which is a positive sign. However, certain restrictions apply to the use of pepper spray.

It’s pretty common sense to make sure you can’t use it in a criminal way by preventing you from using it. It must be brought to school or mailed to you, but there are other restrictions. Some restrictions may apply to the size or age of the item as well.

You should check your state’s pepper spray laws.

Airline policies on pepper spray

can you bring pepper spray on a plane

It’s common for major airlines like United, American, Delta, Southwest, etc. To provide contradictory information about pepper spray. It may be that, for example, they don’t allow pepper spray to be packed in checked baggage or on board a plane – this is in direct contradiction to TSA policy.

Sometimes if you follow up with TSA advice, the airline backtracks and says pepper spray is permitted. You may run into an airline agent who believes that pepper spray is not allowed. Oftentimes, the agent cites the terms and conditions to back her up.

To this end, it might be a good idea to keep the TSA website near you (on your phone or printed out) so you can show it to a TSA representative.

See if you can identify some of the major airlines that seem to prohibit pepper spray even in checked bags.


Note: Gunpowder (e.g., Pyrodex, black powder, mace, pepper spray and tear gas) is never permitted.” Link


The federal government prohibits hazardous materials from being carried on or in checked baggage. Hazardous substances include explosives, compressed gases, oxidizers, corrosives, flammable liquids, solids, loaded firearms, radioactive materials, and poisons. Paint, mace/tear gas, lighter fluid, oxygen bottles, and fireworks are examples of prohibited items.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines currently prohibits self-defense sprays on all flights, whether they are checked in or carried on. Link

Some airlines, however, specify that the items cannot be taken onboard and must be checked in.

United Airlines

Among the items we don’t allow on board are “dangerous items” such as “defense sprays like mace, pepper spray, and tear gas.” Link

It is not permissible for certain airlines to fly, such as American Airlines.

American Airlines

The more you dig into the policies for each airline, you will see that the pepper spray and mace policies are very hazy. In my experience, I would try to get something in writing before my flight if I thought there was something questionable about an airline. I would then show it to anyone who gives me trouble.

Pepper spray should also be thrown out if asked to do so and you should not cause a scene if you have it with you.

Bear Spray

It is often based on capsaicin and related capsaicinoids, like mace and pepper spray. The two products follow different regulations, but the biggest difference is that bear spray produces an expanding cloud of spray, whereas mace and pepper spray produce a narrow stream that must be aimed at the face (which is not ideal for deterring bears).

There is no way to bring bear spray on a plane or in your checked luggage.

It is possible to rent bear spray from a national park or similar establishment if you are flying to hiking or outdoor recreation destinations in bear country. Before you travel, I recommend calling up visitor centers and asking.

Final Word

If you want to bring pepper spray on a plane, keep a few things in mind. Pepper spray is never allowed in the cabin of a plane.

In addition, you should keep the container size to 4 ounces, have an adequate safety mechanism on the spray, and ensure that you are complying with the 2% limitation.

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