Is beer flammable?
Here’s a question you might have asked yourself while sipping on a cold one on a late night, sat before a campfire or maybe with a smoke in hand.Another question you might have pondered before is What will happen if I pour beer onto a fire?
Honestly, we don’t know why you would consider such a scenario as losing your beer to a roaring flame or pouring your beer on a campfire for the sake of a fire experiment.
But… It is an interesting question and one that deserves an answer - especially if it results in saving a perfectly good beer somewhere down the line.
So, will beer catch fire? Find the answer down below.
Is Beer A Fire Hazard?
The short answer, and the answer you’re probably looking for, is no.
Beer is not flammable, nor is it a fire hazard, as it does not have a high enough alcohol percentage.
In other words, save your beer and don’t waste it on any flammability tests!
The alcohol percentage, or ABV, of beer is usually between 3% and 7% in general, which is just not high enough to be flammable in the slightest.
So, even you 7% and above beer drinkers can rest assured that your beer won’t catch fire or explode in your hand.
But while on the topic of whether beer is flammable…
Believe It Or Not, Beer Is Mostly Water
It’s true. So, if you have ever been called a “water drinker” before at a party or gathering as you stood there gripping a Coors Light, they were kind of right. Well, technically.
What is beer made of? Beer is made of yeast, ethanol, hops, malt, sugar, and lots of water.
90-95% of water, in fact.
That is why beer tends to have you getting up to go to the bathroom every half-hour (don’t worry - you are not alone).
It’s also the main reason why beer is not flammable. With such a high water content, there’s just no chance beer will catch fire or even fuel a burning fire.
High Alcohol Beers
While we mentioned that, in general, most beers fall in the 3% to 7% ABV range, there are beers out there - hardcore beers - that go well above this level of alcohol percentage.
How high, you ask? Well, some have a higher alcohol percentage than your favorite spirits.
Yep, high alcohol beer exists, and people buy it and drink it.
The world’s strongest beer, Snake Venom, by Scottish brewery Brewmeister, is a whopping 67.5% ABV. Brewmeister’s other beer, Armageddon, comes in second place at 65% ABV.
Be honest - how many of those do you think you could drink?
And on the subject of flammability, are those beers flammable? That leads us to the next part…
What Alcohol Percentage Is Flammable?
Alcohol becomes flammable above the 50% mark. Or, in other words, when it is 100 proof.
So, yes, you could light your Snake Venom up like a cocktail, if ever you wanted to.
That also means any vodkas, tequilas, rums, gins, and whiskeys you find over 50% ABV will be flammable.
While this ABV won’t provide a massive flame if lit, it will ignite temporarily, to some degree, for a few seconds or more.
It’s also worth knowing that it’s not technically the liquid itself that catches fire, but the ethanol vapors.
Can You Burn A Glass Bottle?
So beer isn’t flammable. But what would happen if you put a glass bottle of beer in a fire?
You would waste a perfectly good beer.
No, but seriously, it would either crack, shatter, melt slowly or just get hot, depending on the heat of the flame. The beer itself would also heat up, making it undrinkable for most people (we have experienced at some point what it's like to drink warm beer).
The same, uneventful outcome would happen if you were to put a flame to a can of beer. Aluminum technically does not burn. However, pressure building up inside the can due to extreme heat can cause an unopened can to explode.
So, you definitely don’t want to leave any unopened cans close to a campfire or bonfire. You have been warned!
What About Molotov Cocktails?
You might have watched movie scenes where people throw lit beer bottles as Molotov cocktails. You might have even seen this happen in real life. The question is: if those were beer bottles, why did they explode?
If it did explode in flames, the reason would be that it was not beer inside that bottle; the beer would have been replaced by a more volatile, flammable liquid.
Once again, the alcohol percentage of beer is not high enough to be flammable. And if you did try to make a Molotov cocktail with a bottle of beer, you would be wasting your time.
With that question answered and out of the way, remember that Molotov cocktails are illegal to both manufacturer and possess.
In other words: don’t make Molotov cocktails.
Can A Beer Barrel Catch Fire?
What about beer barrels, can those catch on fire?
If you are asking this question, it’s likely that you are a gamer.
While “barrels” do explode in video games (you know, when you shoot them), this would not happen in real life with a beer barrel if shot at or exposed to fire. It just isn’t realistic, to put it simply.
Of course, the wooden barrel would catch fire and burn, then fall apart, but that would be all. No explosion, no fireworks show.
Can You Use Beer To Put Out A Fire?
Good question. And here’s a useful tip: you can use beer to put out a fire.
While this might make some of you wince, the high water content of beer makes it particularly useful for putting out a fire in an emergency - if you have enough of it and have nothing else to fight the fire with, that is.
In fact, there have been numerous incidents in the past in which beer has saved people’s lives from burning fires.
Of course, some of you might not be able to think of anything worse than pouring your beer away, but it might just save your life.
So, the opposite is actually the case. Beer is not flammable but, instead, a liquid that you can (as a very, very last resort) use to put out a fire!
The Short Answer
Beer, within its general ABV range between 3% and 7%, is not flammable.
So, if you have ever wondered what would happen if you put a hot flame to beer or poured beer into a fire, expect nothing to happen.
Only alcohol that is 100 proof - at least 50% ABV and more - would light on fire, but this would not cause a big explosion or anything that’s worth seeing.
In general, beer is not considered a fire hazard. And if you are ever in an emergency where a burning fire is threatening your life, you can in fact use beer to put out the fire or fight the fire, due to the fact that beer has a high water content.
So there you have it!
As a final note, just remember: don’t play with fire, and don’t waste good beer.