10 Years of Blog Archive

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Self Defense and Protecting Yourself with Pepper Spray in Ecuador

Reader asks:  Is a woman allowed to have pepper spray or mace on her person to protect herself? Is it sold in Ecuador?

Yes, pepper spray is available for purchase in Ecuador. See bottom of article on where to buy.

Difference between Pepper Spray and Mace

Pepper Spray is an inflammatory agent it will instantly provoke coughing, choking, nausea; it actually dilates the capillaries which temporarily blinds the attacker, which gives the victim enough time to escape. Mace on the other hand is what is known as tear gas and is actually illegal in several U.S states. You should check your state to see if it is legal before trying to acquire it. Ecuador is working on a project to make tear gas only legal for police and military.

The “actual” mace or tear gas, which has been used in the U.S military since the early 1960’s does not work against an attacker who is on drugs, alcohol or who is mentally psychotic; apparently they feel no pain against the chemicals that are present in mace, i.e., tear gas.

Pepper spray on the other hand, being a very strong irritant has proven to temporarily incapacitate attackers who are intoxicated on drugs or alcohol and those who are severely mentally impaired. Pepper spray is what you want for self defense.

FYI: Mace brand is now actually pepper spray. When you see the brand name Mace sold in stores, it’s actually pepper spray, not mace.

Source: The Pepper Spray Store

Protecting Yourself against an Attacker

Are you prepared to use the pepper spray correctly and timely against an attacker?  It’s not as easy as it seems; just go buy some pepper spray and you’re good to walk alone on the streets. As much as we hate to say it, North Americans are a target right off the bat, just for being a gringo. Then, to top it off, many of them are new to Ecuador and do not know how to appear/behave. Please read our post on Cultural Crime Differences between South and North America to give you a better understanding of some of the differences.

Pulling out your iphone, camera, wallet, etc in public anywhere on the street makes you an even bigger target when living abroad.  And the fact is just because you have pepper spray on your person does not mean you will be able to fend off a group of attackers that just saw you talking on your iphone earlier, and think they are entitled.

Problems with Using Pepper Spray
  • There are consequences of using the spray in enclosed areas as it can also permeate inside your nose, eyes or mouth and cause terrible burning and irritation so much so that you are unable to get away and run from the attacker.
  • Wind direction can be a problem. Victim of an attack must be careful of which way the wind is blowing.  You will not be able to stop an attacker and ask him to please turn around so you can spray him in the face with pepper spray, meaning if the wind is blowing in your direction when you spray attacker, the mist will come back into your face as well.
  • Most victims of an attack are unaware of something about to happen and never have time to rummage through their purse to find the spray, then pull the spray out of its little pouch and spray attacker. Best place to carry pepper spray is on your side attached to your belt for easier accessibility; otherwise the spray is really no use to victims.
Foreigners and especially women may not be aware the way attacks happen in South America.  It’s not just you against an attacker.  It's usually you against three or four attackers armed with knives. Do you really want to feel that you’re protected because you’re carrying pepper spray, and therefore, accept a false sense of security which leads to improper decision making, i.e. the taking of risks you shouldn’t be taking?  You read it here. It's best to take some training on how to be better prepared to use your pepper spray against an attacker(s).

Where to Buy Pepper Spray in Ecuador

We live in Ecuador and we mainly write for folks living and wanting to move to Ecuador and so I only did the research where to buy it in Ecuador. Sorry folks, can’t do all the work for you. :-)

Quito Ecuador –ECUATEPI  S.A  - Self defense store.  If you are in Quito, you can simply go to their store. Other people can order it online and have it shipped. The store is located on Av. América N17-207 y Santiago, Quito Ecuador.

Mercado Libre – Online shopping for all South American countries.

Guayaquil Ecuador -  Zunino Store - Tungurahua 1.619 entre Ayacucho y Huancavilca  --   Email: info@zunino.com.ec

Cuenca Ecuador – Kywi Hardware store – Mira Flores Mall North East end of town by the airport. You might want to call them first to make sure they have pepper spray in stock. 
Website: http://www.kywi.com/
(593) (7) 2862741 
(593) (7) 2861088 
(593) (7) 2804720

Legal Issues Using Pepper Spray in Ecuador

Pepper spray is allowed to be used in Ecuador in cases of self-defense. The use of pepper spray remains an unclear subject in Ecuador. It is our understanding, after doing the research that the Ecuador police/government are not for it or against it, as they understand that people need some kind of self protection, but the government of Ecuador is working on a project to regulate the concentration amount of pepper spray that can be used by a civilian to incapacitate an attacker.  As of today, until they rectify the regulations better, it remains a controversial solution, according to Ecuador’s policies on the books today. So far, this legislative project has not reached the Commission on Sovereignty and International Relations of the National Assembly.

For example the article states (February 2014) that in cases of gases or aerosols it would amend the rate and concentration of the chemical, to avoid fatal damage to the person who receives them. He also said that the uses of tear gases (different from pepper spray) are only to be used by the police and armed forces. To read the full article, go here.

Airlines and Pepper Spray

No aerosol can of anything is allowed on your person or in your carry-on on the plane, that includes pepper spray. TSA does not permit Tear gas in your checked baggage, while pepper spray is allowed as long as it has the safety valve on to keep it from exploding on the plane.  Also, all airlines have different policies about the amount of and concentration of pepper spray you can actually bring, so make sure to check with your particular airline for the specific details.
TSA Prohibited Items
Source: TSA Prohibited Items
TSA Permitted Items in CHECKED BAGGAGE

If anyone would like to add to this article about other places the pepper spray can be bought in Ecuador, please do so in the comments below. Thanks.

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!


  1. Good info, I would still prefer to have my little gun though.

  2. Interesting - I ended up on this article and still will likely get some pepper spray but it's not about deterring mugging. It's the aggressive rural dogs! I'm a cyclist, so I trigger the innate predator/prey instinct in the lightly-socialized rural dogs. I don't necessarily fault the dog but I also am not going to meet each dog often enough to form a relationship so I need some quick "training" that won't hurt them. Pepper spray's the only thing that cyclists universally recommend for aggressive dogs chasing cyclists - glad it appears I can get some here!


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