Vodka is a very versatile alcoholic drink. It can be drunk neat (ideally, chilled in a freezer for best effects). It can also be combined with nearly any other juice or drink product/s to form excellent cocktails. But are we risking a fire every time we enjoy a vodka-based drink? Is there something we should be drinking, instead?
Vodka is most commonly 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume) and while it can catch fire, it is not considered to be flammable. This level of alcohol is too low to sustain a fire. Higher proof vodkas can be flammable.
Obviously, the answer to this question will depend on the strength of the vodka. Let’s take a look at that in more detail.
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Also read: What Makes Something Flammable?
Table of Contents
What Is Vodka (From A Chemical Perspective)?
Vodka is an unusual spirit. Unlike, say, whiskey, there is no official body that decides what is and what isn’t vodka.
It can be made from anything from grains to potatoes to fruit and that’s because when vodka is finished – the only things that remain are ethanol and water.
Ethanol is the alcohol that appears in all alcoholic drinks but only vodka is just a dilute form of this alcohol.
Alcohol itself is, of course, flammable, we’ve all seen people light it on fire either in real life or on television.
But is vodka as flammable as the alcohol that is found in it? It depends on the strength.
Can You Light Vodka On Fire?
Yes, you can light vodka on fire, but most vodkas will not sustain a flame for long.
In fact, vodka is very popular in “flair bartending” that is the kind of bartending which creates drinks that are as impressive to watch being made and delivered as they are to drink.
The best flair bartenders are an entertainment draw.
The movie Cocktail, with Tom Cruise, is a great example of just how clever bartenders can be when making drinks.
Vodka burns with a bright, steady blue flame and thus, it’s a fantastic ingredient for a round of breathtaking late-night burning drinks.
But not all vodka burns well or consistently. This is because vodka is generally 80 proof (for any Europeans out there, that’s 40% alcohol by volume) and this isn’t quite enough alcohol for a consistent flame.
At 80 proof, the alcohol will catch fire, but the water in the vodka will quickly extinguish the blaze.
Take a look at what happens if you put a torch onto a bottle of vodka:
Also read: Is Methanol Flammable?
What Proof Alcohol Is Flammable?
To burn with a consistent flame, vodka (or any alcohol) must be 100 proof or higher (greater than 50% alcohol by volume).
There are plenty of vodka brands that supply 100-proof vodka.
That’s because there’s a demand for flaming drinks and for stronger alcoholic spirits.
As long as vodka remains a blend of alcohol and water, there is no limit, except locally enforced limits on alcohol concentration, as to the theoretical proof of vodka.
However, 100 proof tends to be the maximum available in most cases.
Also read: Is Rum Flammable? Can it Catch on Fire?
Is It Safe To Drink Flaming Vodka?
It is safe to drink flaming drinks, but only with a sensible approach to them.
Do not drink them while they are still on fire!
Every year, people are hospitalized when drinking flaming shots.
You need to make sure that the flame has been completely extinguished if you want to consume a flaming drink safely. Also, use your hands to check the temperature of the glass (which may be too hot if any drink spilled down the sides while the alcohol burned) before taking the shot.
This is true even if you intend to use a straw to drink the shot.
If you place a plastic straw in burning liquid, it’s going to melt, and we don’t recommend drinking molten plastic for your health.
Also read: Is Lemon Juice Flammable? [Lime, Orange]
Is Vodka Highly Flammable?
Vodka is not highly flammable at 80 proof, but higher proof vodkas can be very flammable.
That’s because the alcohol content is too low to ensure a consistent flame.
This is probably a good thing if you want to keep vodka at home – it’s not likely to catch light easily and even if it does, it should go out before causing any more fires. (Though it’s still possible).
But at 100 proof, vodka is entirely flammable, and you need to be very careful to keep it away from sources of naked flame.
Of course, if you store vodka in a tightly sealed glass bottle, you’re going to keep any risk to a minimum.
Also read: Is Ethanol Flammable? What You Should Know
Is Absolut Vodka Flammable?
Absolut Vodka is not a single vodka, but rather a brand name that applies to dozens of different kinds of vodka.
The majority of Absolut vodkas are 80 proof or weaker and are not particularly flammable, but Absolut does make 100 proof vodka which is flammable.
What About Grey Goose?
Grey Goose is the famous luxury brand of vodka, but it only contains 40% alcohol by volume and thus, it’s not particularly flammable.
Is Vodka Flammable After It Dries?
Vodka or other spirits are not flammable once dry, as the alcohol will have evaporated.
Vodka is made up of two components, as we’ve seen, alcohol and water. When water dries, it evaporates and is not flammable.
And the same is true of alcohol, if it is completely dry, the ethanol will have evaporated.
Assuming that the area is open to ventilation – there’s nothing left to be flammable.
However, in a confined space with no ventilation, it’s just possible that there might be enough ethanol fumes around for them to be flammable.
We think, however, it’s unlikely that would ever happen.