It is common to drink chilled vodka with ice, but a flaming shot isn’t as common. In the past, the authority collected taxes by burning spirits like whiskey to determine their alcohol concentration. But nowadays, the practice of igniting alcoholic drinks goes down to entertainment and flair shows.
Is vodka flammable even if it is a neutral spirit composed of just ethanol and water?
Is Vodka Really Flammable?
Yes, vodka is flammable along with other spirits as they all contain ethanol. Ethanol is a colorless and flammable liquid with a burning taste produced after fermentation. With a flashpoint of 13°C (55°F), ethanol produces enough vapor to ignite at room temperature when exposed to open flame.
Fortunately, alcoholic beverages like vodka also contain water, making the flashpoint higher than room temperature. It means that storing a bottle of vodka at home is safe if away from a naked flame. But a glass of 80 proof alcohol can still be lit on fire if exposed, though the blue flame won’t last for very long.
What Can Make It Non-flammable?
A bottle of vodka with low alcohol proof and away from open flame makes it non-flammable. Vodkas with lower alcohol by volume content can not sustain flames for a long time because they have more water.
Putting a lit match in a shot of vodka will quickly extinguish the flame. But using a long lighter will heat the surface first, making alcohol produce enough vapor to start a bright fire. The light can last according to the alcohol concentration of the beverage, as it is what makes vodkas flammable.
Vodka Proof Considered Flammable
A vodka of 100 proof and above is considered flammable. With this alcohol concentration of the drink, one may wonder, “Is vodka flammable?” Most vodkas can catch fire easily, but they are not extremely flammable as the water content will extinguish the blue flame in a few seconds after burning the alcohol.
Of course, that question goes out the windows regarding Spirytus Vodka. With 96% ABV or 192 proof, it is the most highly flammable vodka among other alcohols. Its high alcohol concentration makes it a hand-sanitizer alternative in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic . But does vodka evaporate?
Can You Light a Shot of Vodka on Fire?
Yes, you can light a shot of vodka on fire, but we do not recommend doing it at home or without proper training. Although most vodkas are not highly flammable, certain materials in the house can catch fire easily.
It is exciting to see flaming drinks in cocktail bars, but skilled and professional flair bartenders do them for guest entertainment. They light up cocktails while ensuring the perfect mix of the drinks with more ease because of their years of training. But how many shots of vodka can get you drunk?
What is Flaming Vodka?
A flaming vodka is a cocktail drink consisting of layered beverages and topped with a bright blue flame. One glass of 80 proof vodka alone can catch fire following some room environmental conditions, but it will only burn for a few seconds.
Even with a flammable 100 proof vodka, the fire will consume the ethanol in just a few minutes. For that reason, bartenders and mixologists added a higher-proof alcoholic drink like rum to keep the fire burning longer in flaming cocktails.
Is It Safe To Drink Flaming Vodka?
No, drinking a flaming drink like vodka is not safe, and it can cause irreversible damage if done wrong. It is not entirely impossible as people with years of experience and skills combined can drink flaming cocktails, but they also exercise extreme precaution.
Although it may not give a consistent flame, drinking a shot of flaming cocktails can burn your mouth and hair. The flames will also cause the glass to become extremely hot that it can burn your hand. Be careful to use a straw as it can catch fire if exposed to flaming cocktails for more than a few seconds.
Vodka Brands & Their Chance of Flammability
Almost all Grey Goose vodkas have an alcohol content of 80 proof, making them flammable but not enough to keep a consistent fire. Grey Goose created their flavored line by combining unflavored vodka with botanical ingredients, creating refreshing drinks with toned-down alcohol concentration. These flavored drinks are harder to light on fire at 30% ABV or 60 proof.
In 2007, the company released the Absolut 100 Vodka, a rich-flavored premium alcoholic drink that mixes well with tonic water and juice. The 50% ABV of this vodka makes it a highly flammable beverage.
Absolut vodka also has 80 proof in most of their products, including the flavored varieties of Lime, Citron, and Grapefruit. The rest of their flavored range has a slightly lower alcohol content at 38% ABV.
Smirnoff vodka also has varieties, with alcohol by volume ranging from 30% to 50%. Like Absolut 100 Vodka, Smirnoff 100 is a clear and strong spirit that mixes best in a classic martini or the infamous Moscow Mule. It is flammable enough to entertain guests of a large party and create flaming drinks.
Is it safe to make flaming vodka at home?
No, it is not safe to make flaming vodkas at home. It is dangerous as curtains or hair can catch fire if you don’t have proper training. However, it has little to no risk for bars, as there are professionals there who follow fire safety protocols.
Does lighting vodka burn off the alcohol?
Yes, lighting vodka will burn off the alcohol. It is not the liquid that burns but the vapor produced by ethanol as the fire heats up the drink . A higher proof of alcohol equates to more vapor, creating a steadier fire than those with lower alcohol concentration.
Most bottles of vodka available today have 80 proof, enough to ignite a small flame within certain conditions. We recommend using a long lighter or specialized blowtorch instead of a match. These tools help by heating the drink and creating the vapor to set off the blue flames.
But again, practicing this at home without proper training and guidance is not recommended. There is a risk of things catching fire around the house, so it’s better to leave the exciting sight of flaming vodkas in bars done by professionals.
Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds!