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Myths and Molotovs.

The following may be the most controversial subject that I have ever written about on  In fact, I hesitate to put this to light.  The hesitation comes not from talking about the subject, because I don’t think there is any subject so scary that it can’t even be talked about.   The hesitation comes from perception/reaction of me having the audacity to post this on the internet in this post September 11th America.  If I put this information out there, what will the reaction be?   Probably less than positive, but humbly submit that this information is for academic purposes, not application.   I give this warning, because the subject is the infamous “Molotov Cocktail” and how to properly make one for the best effect.

Let me preface this article with a little history.  I served on the “Weapons Squad” in my platoon of Light Infantry.  (Funny how they call it that when there is nothing light about it at all.  Everything is fucking heavy as shit and your always in the dark)  Our whole unit had the reputation for being very good and being very aggressive.  Just as my little Bros… their unit went up against my old unit during some training exercises.  It was ugly… it was like Gulf War I.  My Boys went postal all over my poor and unprepared Brothers.   After about 2 minutes, they only had 1 survivor. 

My Squad and I had been going through some training on MOUT and Counter Terrorism.  However counter terrorism 10 years ago was vastly different than what it is today.  At the time, C.T. was more like Counter Guerilla War Fighting and how to Be a Terrorist all rolled up into one.  There was nothing about 747’s or weapons of mass destruction.  But it was fun, and it was educational.  The subject of revolutionaries came up and with it, the Molotov Cocktail.  As soon as that subject came up, the debate began as to how to make the most effective cocktail.    We decided that it would be best to put all these theories to the test and find out what was Real, and what was BS.  And this is where it all started.

First thing to do was to find a suitable location.  We found one that consisted of a large open area free from flammable objects, with a nice brick wall as the target.  Have no fear, for some of those involved where on the fire department, and we had our little project blessed.  The fire fighters wanted to watch anyways so we have 3 or 4 in attendance armed with extinguishers. 

We had with us a collection of glass bottles collected from homes, bars, and what we recently drained over the course of the last 24 hours.   Along with the bottles were a myriad of “ingredients” to go into the bottles.  These included but were not limited to:   Soap Powders, Sugar, Flour, Rice, Oatmeal, sawdust, etc.  We also had 3 jerry cans containing about 5 gallons each of Regular, Plus, and Premium Unleaded. We also had two smaller cans of Diesel, and Kerosene.

The test was not exactly Scientific but we tried our best.  We were looking for the best results from our firebombs in 3 areas of effect. 

  1. Splash.  With a nice splash effect the fire is more likely to ignite properly and will cover a larger area. 
  2. Flash.  The fuel should ignite and burst into flame quickly as a slow burn is not effective as a weapon.   The idea is that you want something on fire and you want it burning now.
  3.  Stick.  The problem with a good splash effect is that it often splashes off your target only to burn harmlessly on the ground.   That is fine, but we believe a good cocktail should also burn the target.  As much as possible.  This means we want the fire to stick to the target and provide even some more direct contact fuel.

Now, before I get into the particulars of the items used for making a good Cocktail, let me discuss how to light them.   The Rag is your fuse… when you stuff a rag into the bottle, you don’t want to have the rag get all wet with the fuel.  This could be bad… it could be very bad.  Ideally you want to stuff enough dry rag into the bottle to effective cork it to prevent any Splash from getting on you in the process of throwing the bottle.  This is where the Splash is important… you need enough splash to catch on the burning rag to ignite the whole enchilada.  Stuff in your dry rag properly, then have another fellow light the rag.  You have to wait a few seconds to allow the rag to get burning up the rag nicely… enough to stay burning while traveling through the air… but not so much as to induce spontaneous human combustion at the Sender’s end.

Now that we had the criteria, we sorted out all the bottles by size and shape.   We found that the bottle types was a critical component of the Splash Factor.  Heavy bottles with lesser volume provided little in splash department, and this is something that we had decided we wanted more of.  Bottles such as Coke bottles are completely out.  Unless your target is a brick wall, it is difficult to get the bottle to break, let alone shatter on impact.  Beer bottles are little better.  Larger volume bottles such as wine bottles are almost ideal, but the problem is that they are heavier and are unable to be thrown with sufficient range.  So unless you are on top of a castle wall, wine bottles are of little use.  They do however make a big splash with an impressive amount of flash.  Luckily no one was injured with those bad boys. 

The most effective bottle types are surprising because of the unlikely source… but an obvious choice.  The bottles are for a flavored imported mineral water typically consumed by assholes.  They are made with a thinner more brittle glass than other bottles so they shatter well, and they hold a sufficient volume as to provide excellent effect.  Splash and Flash.  

The next issue was the Stick Factor.   We began mixing the ingredients in different amounts and we used different fuels as well.  The Diesel fuel worked okay, but it was a slow burn, and not reliable in ignition.  No real Splash or Flash… but it did stick well.  Kerosene even more so.  Totally unacceptable as a liquid accelerant for the purposes of a thrown weapon.  I am sure that it was been used to good effect in the past around the world… but it’s not the ideal fuel.  Gasoline is the best for this, but has less of the Stick properties that we were looking for.  The gas would hit, splash and flash, but would burn so quickly as to induce a concern that it might burn off the target instead of burning the target.  This is where the ingredients came in.

We found the best way to mix the ingredients was to only fill the bottles ½ way and to hold the bottle at an angle.  This allowed the fuel to pour into the bottle all the way down to the bottom and facilitate actual mixing by simply rotating the bottle as the fuel was poured in.  Worked like a charm.  Some ingredients mixed better with the fuel than others. 

Sugar did very well, but was expensive and didn’t provide any extras to warrant it.  If you have it on hand when your in your Stalingrad kitchen baking and the Nazis roll into town, use Sugar instead of the flower. 

The Flower made a huge mess and didn’t mix well at all.  The resulting sticky blob didn’t burn well at all.  

The soaps all did better and seemed to have mixed much better than the other powders.  A certain dishwasher brand famous for sheeting action was the best of the soap lots.  The only problem was that it severely hampered proper splashing and flashing, just wanting to stick.  The bottles were also heavier and less likely to have been able to be thrown heroic freedom fighting distances.  Also the price for volume was more prohibitive than the sugar… At least for the Casc… I mean the dishwasher soap…

The best effect over all for Splash Flash and Stick was Oatmeal… the old man brand instant oatmeal was the best of  best.  The oatmeal is light enough to both mix readily with the fuel and splash like we wanted… while the oats themselves were able to stick to the target.  It was almost ideal.  With this mixture of Qua… of Oatmeal, Hi Octane gasoline, and a thin French bottles… we were able to score impressive and effective blasts that would make any Revolutionary get all misty eyed. 

I wish I had photos of the tests, but no one had a camera.  I think they were all focusing on the empting more of the beer bottles.  Too bad those sucked for Molotov purposes.  By the end of the afternoon we were giddy with pyro pleasure but were also tired from all the work… so me being one of the lower of rank in attendance… we got to sweep up all the broken glass.  

It was worth it.  

I hope this article was worth it as well… I hope it dispels some of the popular myths regarding how to mix a proper Molotov. 


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Copyright G H Hill 1999-2012


The 4 Rules of Firearms Safety:

1.  Handle all firearms as if they were loaded.

2.  Never point the gun at anything your not willing to destroy.

3.  Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you have made the decision to fire the weapon.

4.  Know your target, and know what is beyond the target.

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