How Long Does Bear Spray Last? [Answered]

A bear spray is the best guardian in a wilderness where there are many different types of animals for a person to come in contact with. The bear spray comes in a canister, and it needs to be carried at all times while visiting the wild area. It is generally good to have from one to three cans depending on the time you will spend hiking or camping. So how long does bear spray last? Let’s find out!

How long does bear spray last?

How Long Does Bear Spray Last
Bear SpraySubstanceLast for
On Skin60 Minutes
On Human Eyes40-45 Minutes
Bear Spray Can3-5 Years

The short answer is 3-5 years. The long answer is that it is good to replace a can of bear repellent spray if you have not used it for two years. The ingredients in the spray, mainly hot pepper extract and propellants, start breaking down after being exposed to air. When this breakdown happens, they become less effective as irritants.

A human who comes into contact with the repellent spray will be affected as well, as it can cause irritation to the eyes. It does not matter if you shoot a bear with the spray or get hit by accident; you should wash your eyes thoroughly. If possible, try flushing them out with water from a canteen or bottle before washing them with lots of cold running water.

How long does bear spray last on humans?

If you contact the spray, it can last for one hour since it does not come off easily and becomes a part of your skin. If you get in contact with it by accident, then the effect will wear off after an hour.

What to do with expired bear repellent spray?

The expired repellent spray is not useful, so it does not matter if you do or do not use it. You can repurpose it for other purposes, like compressed gas to clean off your bug screens and tighten up screw joints. If you plan to use the cans even after they were expired, then better check what manufacturers say about it.

How to dispose of bear pepper spray in Canada?

If you do not want to reuse the spray and wish to dispose of it, then you can use any of the following options:

  1. Take it back to the store where you bought it from and ask them to recycle or reuse it as they see fit.
  2. Check with your state law if there is a requirement on how to dispose of spray; if so, then follow the rules. Some states have a specific place where you can drop it off to be recycled or reused as they see fit.
  3. If there is no requirement from your state about how to dispose of repellent spray, then check with a nearby store and ask them not to reuse it and recycle it themselves instead.
  4. If it is still within the validity date, then take it back to where you got it from and ask them not to reuse it but recycle it instead.

If you are using a bear spray for your own safety, make sure that you carry extra cans when out in the wilderness. Also, check if there is any requirement on how to dispose of bear spray in your state. If you want to learn more about how to use repellent spray, then check out the guide from the National Park Service.

How to use bear spray?

Before you use the bear spray, make sure that there is no wind blowing and also check if it is within your reach in case of an attack. If you are hiking, then make sure to keep the bear spray away from children and teach them how to use it when traveling with them.

  • When a wild animal comes towards you, make sure to give them a warning before using the spray. When it comes close to you, then aim for the face of the animal and release 2-3 bursts
  • When storing your spray, make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight and indoors. Keep its expiration date in mind and check if you need a permit to carry the repellent spray
  • If you get in contact with the repellent spray, then remove clothing immediately and wash off your skin thoroughly with cold water. Do not use hot water since it can spread the capsaicin faster. Once you are done washing yourself, then go to the doctor for skin treatment if necessary, or call poison control for more information.
  • If by accident someone else gets in contact with the repellent spray, check what should be done and how to seek urgent medical attention. Make sure that the person is away from children so they cannot touch it without knowing about it
  • If you are planning to reuse the repellent spray, then make sure that it does not expire anymore and still has some effect. Note that when you fire off the entire can in less than 6 seconds, there will be no effect on the user or attacker since nothing much can be sprayed out in time.


If you plan to use bear spray, make sure that it is within the date of validity and check if there is a permit needed for using it.



Leave a Comment