In the middle of summer or after a hard day at work, it’s often nice to crack open a cold beer and let the stress of the world go for a few minutes. It’s one of the most basic human rituals around alcohol consumption and nearly everyone has had a beer at some point in their lives. But is beer a potential danger? Could your cold ones suddenly become burning hot ones due to the alcohol in them?
Beer is not flammable because it usually has an alcohol content between 4% and 7%. This is not a high enough level of alcohol (ethanol) to catch fire under most circumstances.
Lets look at beer and its alcohol content, as well as its flammability hazards.
Also read: What Makes Something Flammable?
Table of Contents
What Is Beer (Chemically)?
There are some unusual beers from around the world but in the main, beer is made up of water, yeast, ethyl alcohol (ethanol), hops, malt, and sugar.
And some beers are made incredibly strong, as much for the purposes of brewery bragging rights as for the actual taste of the end product. They can be as strong as spirits with 40-50% alcohol by volume (that’s 80-100 proof) not unknown.
A beer called Snake Venom has a whopping 67.5% alcohol by volume!
While some of these extreme example would certainly be flammable, most are nowhere near that level of alcohol content.
For the purposes of our examination of beer, we’re going to assume that most people drink Budweiser or Heineken rather than some ultra-strong Belgian concoction.
The vast majority of a beer is thus, water. And this is why, by and large, most beers are not flammable, as every schoolchild knows, water isn’t flammable.
Now, it is true that alcohol and water combined can be flammable, but only when sufficient alcohol is present, and in most beers, there is nothing like enough alcohol to make this happen.
Does It Ever Catch Fire?
Most beers and ales will not catch fire due to their low alcohol (4% to 7%) and high water content.
Take a look at this attempt to set 12% beer on fire:
In fact, in long standing bar tender tradition, beer is often added as an ingredient to cocktails to stop them from being flammable.
We assume that’s because it means that kids in nightclubs won’t try to set them on fire in order to impress their friends.
Also read: Is Rum Flammable? Can it Catch on Fire?
Is Beer Flammable or Combustible?
Beer is not, as we’ve already seen, a flammable liquid but it is considered to be a combustible liquid under the hazard mitigation protocols put into place by breweries.
We’re not convinced that you would ever be able to combust a beer under normal circumstances and that you would need to go out of your way to do it even using an industrial process.
Is Beer Flammable During Fermentation?
No, while beer is producing alcohol (ethanol) during fermentation, unless you make a huge mistake or are aiming to make the strongest beer in history – it won’t ever have enough alcohol by volume to be flammable.
Is Bud Light Flammable?
Bud light, like most beers, is not flammable and will not catch fire, due to it’s low alcohol and high water content.
Budweiser beers are mostly between 4% and 5% alcohol and therefore don’t have enough alcohol to ignite or sustain a fire.
Also read: Is Water Flammable? You May Be Surprised…
Is Cooking With Beer Dangerous?
So, given that beer is not flammable and not that easy to burn, it’s perfectly safe to cook with, right?
Well, maybe, maybe not.
It is possible depending on the pan you use to evaporate the water from the dish and leave the alcohol behind.
Thus, in theory, it might be possible to then set fire to the remain alcohol.
However, this is “in theory”.
In practice, we’ve never known beer to catch fire in cooking and we’d be fairly happy to say that beer was safe to cook with (from a flammability perspective) as long as you are sensible about your approach to cooking.
What Percentage Alcohol Is Considered Flammable?
So, how much alcohol would need to be in beer before it was considered flammable?
Well, the percentage of alcohol normally consider flammable is 40% to 50% alcohol by volume, that’s 80 to 100 proof.
Now, you can set fire to drinks with less alcohol in them, but they auto-extinguish quickly due to the water content.
By the time you reach about 60 proof or 30% alcohol by volume, you simply can’t light them at all.
So, it is possible for the strongest of novelty beers to be flammable, but they are few and far between and usually, very expensive too.
Also read: Is Wine Flammable? Will it Catch Fire?
Pure ethanol (the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages) has a flashpoint of 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 Celsius). The flashpoint of most drinking alcohol is much higher than that.
That’s a very low flashpoint but in order to get anything to catch fire at its flashpoint temperature, you need a source of ignition – a flame or a spark.
The autoignition temperature, which is the temperature at which alcohol will catch fire by itself, is much higher and it’s over 680 degrees Fahrenheit.