A Molotov cocktail is a good defensive weapon to have on hand, and it requires minimal resources to create and deploy. They are famous for being the tool of choice for arsonists and sleaze-bags who torch buildings on TV or the movies. However, they have some practical real-world applications that may be of interest in a survival situation. While building one is really simple, making sure that the right material is being used will maximize its efficiency while minimizing unintentional injury or damage.
Alcohol or Kerosene
Alcohol is cheap and easy to obtain in large quantities. However, it doesn’t have a long burn duration, and much of the spill that occurs upon impact will vaporize in a couple of seconds. Kerosene is thicker and also burns at a higher temperature. It will ignite rapidly and evenly while burning more slowly than alcohol as well. However, it is heavier and more expensive than alcohol. This may impact the distance in which the bottle can be thrown, but it will prove to beneficial if trying to set fire to material that is not easy to ignite.
You can also use gasoline or used motor oil for your cocktail as well. The used oil will have an effect that is similar to kerosene, whereas the gasoline will burn with less intensity. However, gas burns better than alcohol. The biggest drawbacks to using gasoline is that you will be depleting your fuel reserves, it smells bad and it is difficult to rinse off of the hands.
Cloth or Paper Wicks
There are differing opinions to whether it makes sense to use cloth or rolled up paper towel sheets for the wick. Paper towels are cheaper, but cloth is stronger and less likely to disintegrate in the liquid. You should use cloth whenever possible because it also burns more slowly and consistently. This will increase the chances of having a good ignition once the bottle reaches its target. Paper towels can burn out while being thrown over long distances as well. If you do use paper towels, make sure they are thick, tough and absorbent.
The type of bottle matters as well and thicker glass is harder to break, especially on smaller bottles. However, thicker glass on larger bottles will make them easier to throw and shatter upon impact. The best thing to do is practice at home and determine what options are best for your particular needs. Small bottles filled with alcohol are ideal for striking areas that have a lot of kindling available. Larger bottles with kerosene or used motor oil can be used when coverage and stickiness are important considerations.
In any case, it is important that you properly soak the wick in order to ensure a nice ignition upon impact. You want to place the wick into the bottle before you fill it, holding the fabric to one side of the neck as you insert the funnel. This will ensure that the wick doesn’t float to the top after the bottle is full of fuel. When it is time to light the cocktail, pour some fuel on top of the wick that is outside of the bottle as well. Now it’s time to light and lob the bottle towards the target. Just remember that the bottle needs to shatter and release all of that fuel in order for it to work. Don’t waste a cocktail by throwing it against a soft surface or another person, because it won’t ignite.