Over the years, numerous different tear gas and pepper spray remedies have been circulated. Many are merely useless, but some can be harmful or make the pain last longer. Some are based on misinformation and miscommunication, but others have no clear origin. The following are not recommended:
- Lemon juice or vinegar in the eyes - these are often used to wet a bandana worn over the nose and mouth, but should not be applied to the eyes or skin.
- Mineral oil or alcohol in the eyes - these are used for MOFIBA [Mineral Oil Followed Immediately By Alcohol], a treatment for the skin, not for the eyes.
- Toothpaste - reportedly originated in protests in South Korea as a way to seal a gas mask to the face. There’s no evidence that smearing toothpaste around your eyes or on your skin will reduce the effects of tear gas or pepper spray.
- Vaseline, egg yolk, or other gunk - the theory here is that substances that coat the skin can help protect it from irritating chemicals. However, there’s no evidence that this is the case. In fact, various kinds of gunk can make pepper spray harder to remove.
- Milk - this actually works well as an eye flush (much like LAW [LAW=a mixture of liquid antacid and water]), but milk can spoil and many vegans don’t want it used on them.
- Burning tires - there are mixed reports about whether burning rubber helps ameliorate the effects of tear gas… but are tire fumes any better for you?!
— RADICAL HEALTH
- Avoid use of oils and lotions because they can trap the chemicals and thereby prolong exposure.
- We recommend using a water or alcohol-based sunscreen (rather than oil-based). If your choice is between oil-based or nothing, we advocate using the sunscreen. Pepper spray on top of sunburn is not good.
- We also recommend minimizing skin exposure by covering up as much as possible. This can also protect you from the sun. Don’t forget a hat.
- The simplest rule of thumb is to cover up as much skin with impermeable gear like rain gear. Cheap plastic rain jackets and hoods work fine.
Most cloth will absorb the chemicals further exposing you even when you are out of the toxic cloud. Some materials, like gore-tex or fuzzy synthetics, will be destroyed.
- Certainly wear vinyl or nitrile gloves when treating someone exposed. Do not use latex: latex allergies are prevalent and serious.
- Gas masks provide the best facial protection, if properly fitted and sealed. Alternatively, goggles (with shatter-proof lenses and no foam), respirators, or even a wet bandana over the nose and mouth will help. Some protesters wear bandanas wet with vinegar (preferably apple cider because it is less irritating), lemon juice, or water with Emergen-C, because it is believed that will counter the tear gas effects better than water, however the use of acidic coatings on the bandana may actually be harmful when exposed.
- Palestinians rub onions under their eyes for eye tolerance during exposure. The mechanism of may be that when your eyes and nose are already watering that the tear gas dust will be less irritating.
— MEDIC WIKI