How to Make a Molotov Cocktail | Here’s Everything You Need

How to Make a Molotov Cocktail

A molotov cocktail is a simple incendiary device that you can use for defensive purposes and produce a slow burn. Unfortunately, the name Molotov brings thoughts of lawbreakers who use these grenade-like devices against innocent people. While this is horribly still seen today, the Molotov cocktail has a long history of use.

What’s Needed to Make a Molotov Cocktail

Simply, Molotov cocktails consist of a glass bottle filled with fuel and a flammable wick (rag, cloth, or paper towel) that is set on fire.

For a more complex answer; the Molotov cocktail can be effective or ineffective based on your building components.


Alcohol, Kerosene, and Gasoline are all options for fuel. Each one has a pro and con list, making this the first step of choosing how you want your cocktail to burn.

Alcohol – Cheap and easy to find, possibly the easiest to find in a survival situation, you could use alcohol. However, alcohol burns quickly, and the cocktail itself will not burn as long once the bottle is shattered. Most of the alcohol will vaporize before being effective.

Kerosene – Kerosene will burn slower and more evenly than alcohol because it is a thicker fuel. You will waste less fuel from evaporation, and your fire will be more effective. However, kerosene is more expensive and will be harder to find. It is also heavier, meaning you will have to be closer to your target compared to a bottle filled with alcohol.

Gasoline – Because of the heavy density of gasoline, it will burn similar to kerosene in that it will set materials on fire easily. Both kerosene and gasoline will burn better than alcohol. However, gasoline will use up some of your fuel reserves and have the strongest scent.

The volume of your fuel will directly affect the size of your fire. Fill your bottle until the fuel reaches the shoulder if you want a larger fireball. If you would like a smaller, more controlled fire, fill the bottle only halfway or less. If you are not filling the bottle up to the shoulder, make sure your wick can still reach your fuel. Also, remember that more liquid in your bottle will make it harder to break.


The key here is to practice with different types of glass bottles. You will notice that small, thick-walled bottles will be harder to break, while large bottles with thin walls may break too easily. Try to find a tall, thick-walled bottle that feels comfortable to you that you can throw easiest.

Also, consider the type of fuel you are using in your bottle. If you choose to use alcohol, a thinner bottle may be better to use and may only work if there is kindling where you ignite your cocktail.


Cloth is the ideal material to make a wick out of. Cloth is durable, absorbent, and will continue to burn while being thrown. With this said, paper towels are also an option. The downsides to using paper towels are that the towel can disintegrate over time in your fuel, and it can burn out while being thrown. All of this said, paper towels are cheaper and will work in a pinch if you can’t find a cloth.

How to Make a Molotov Cocktail

Once you have chosen your materials, soak the wick in your fuel beforehand (unless using paper towels). Soaking it will ensure that your wick stays where you want it to. Once your wick has is soaked, funnel it and place it in your bottle. Then, pour in your fuel using a funnel.

Once you are ready to ignite your cocktail, re-soak the top of your wick that is out of the bottle, and light it on fire. Remember to throw your cocktail quickly and at a hard surface. If you throw it at something soft, your bottle will not break, and therefore not work.

What are the Origins of the Molotov Cocktail?

Molotov cocktails, also called a bottle bomb, alcohol bomb, or simply Molotov, among other names, first showed up around the time of the Winter War (1939-1940). Finland first started using Molotov cocktails against Russian tanks, calling them petrol bombs, by mixing alcohol, kerosene, tar, and potassium chlorate.

The name ‘Molotov’ comes from the Finnish people mocking the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov. The Minister claimed to be providing “humanitarian aid” to the Finns but instead bombed them. The Finns then promised him “Molotov Cocktails” in return.

Alko began mass-producing Molotov cocktails during WWII. While they still may be seen in war today, it is less likely. Military advancements have surpassed the impact of Molotov cocktails, making them quite obsolete. This is why Molotov cocktails are seen more as a symbol of civil unrest rather than a weapon of war.

Are Molotov Cocktails Legal?

The National Firearms Act and the ATF consider Molotov cocktails a destructive device. Because of this, Molotov cocktails are illegal to possess and use under federal law.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to make a Molotov cocktail, it is time to think of the practicality of using one of these as a defense mechanism for yourself during a state of emergency. Molotov cocktails may be able to help you defend your property or make a statement to those you may want to keep away or scare. Just remember to use these cocktails only in an extreme survival situation.


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