At What Percentage Does Alcohol Burn?

Last Updated on July 17th, 2023

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We’ve all seen the videos of people using isopropyl alcohol (or rubbing alcohol) to set things on fire. Rubbing alcohol, 70% alcohol, is a very flammable substance and should be handled cautiously.

But what about other forms of alcohol, like the ones meant for drinking? I’m sure you’ve seen an action movie where someone creates a Molotov cocktail out of a vodka bottle. Does that work better or worse than rubbing alcohol?

Well, the percentage that alcohol can burn is 40%. Some vodka, such as Everclear, also has the same percentage of alcohol as Isopropyl.

3 alcohol bottles in front of a burning wood - At What Percentage Does Alcohol Burn?

Which Alcohol Percentage Burns the Fastest?

The higher the percentage, the faster it’ll burn. In some places, you can get Everclear up to 95% alcohol which means it’ll even light faster than rubbing alcohol. If you’re looking for high percentage alcohol, try:

  • Vodka
  • Rum
  • Tequila
  • Absinthe


A word of caution, though. Fire is very dangerous, and it is not recommended to light alcohol. If you are going to light it to flambé a dish or try to entertain your bar friends, try to stay in the range of 50%. Cognac is the alcohol that is usually used in restaurants.


At What Percentage Does Alcohol Burn the Slowest?

Just as the higher percentages light faster, the lower percentages light slower. If you want a small flame, you will want to stay in the 40% range. If you’re looking for low percentage alcohol, try:

  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Light Liqueurs
  • Gin


Remember that 40% is the lowest you can go for getting alcohol to light on fire. However, it is also the standard for most alcohols, so if you’re wondering whether or not your alcohol can catch on fire, the answer is probably yes.


How Can You Know How Fast the Alcohol Burn?

It’s not really about speed. It’s about how high the flame gets. If your alcohol is going to catch on fire, it’ll always do so fairly quickly. That’s why it’s important to ensure you’re not careless while cooking. 2 out of 5 house fires start in the kitchen while cooking food.

When using a higher percentage of alcohol, the flame will be larger and harder to put out. Once all of the alcohol vapors burn out, then the fire goes out until it’s found another source of fuel, such as a curtain or a carpet.


Is There An Alcohol Percentage That Won’t Burn?

Alcohol under 40% typically will not burn, and you shouldn’t even bother trying with anything under 30%.

This includes:

  • Liqueur
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Hard Seltzer


Although they don’t catch on fire, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them. For example, restaurants still use beer to make fish and chicken. And on the bright side, you’ll have the safest time around a bonfire if you bring the alcoholic beverages listed above.


Which Alcohol Should You Buy if You Want it to Burn Fast?

If you want alcohol that’ll produce a large flame, then Everclear, Bacardi, and Absinthe are going to be your best bets. They all sit at around the 70%-75% mark.

However, as I said above, Everclear can also be found in some places to be up to 95% alcohol. Keep in mind, though, that it is illegal in some states.

You can also buy rubbing alcohol from your local convenience store if you’re looking for something cheaper and are not planning to cook with it. The good thing about rubbing alcohol is that it doesn’t go bad. In addition, you can store it for many years to come.


Final Thoughts on Burning Alcohol Percentages

Fire is very dangerous and needs to be used with caution. However, if you’re looking for which alcohol burns the fastest, the answer is Everclear. Alcohol with a higher percentage of alcohol, such as Absinthe, will burn faster and produce a higher flame.

Alcohols with a lower percentage, such as Gin, will burn slower and produce a smaller flame. Smaller flames are easier to control and are easier to put out. If you want alcohol that won’t catch on fire, try anything 30% and below, such as beer and hard seltzers.


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