# Could flammable alcohol be used as a weapon in combat?

I'm developing a character who becomes stronger the more alcohol is in his body but couldn't think of an appropriate weapon. Then I had the idea that he could use alcohol in some sort of flame based weapon/attack. Could alcohol be used as an effective weapon by boosting a fire attack? Or at the very least would it produce a sizeable amount of fire? Data on flame size using different alcohols as fuel would be helpful. Or what weapons could work well in this way that take advantage of his increase in physical strength or alcohol as a fuel?

• Welcome to Worldbuilding. Please take our tour and read through our help center to better understand our rules - one of which is that you can ask only one question per post. Have you researched anything? That's desirable here. People start passing out at around 0.2% BAC and die at 0.4%. An adult male has about 1.4 gallons of blood, so you're talking about one tablespoon of alcohol. I don't know what you expect to have happen with that.
– JBH
Oct 12, 2021 at 1:55
• Check the volume of the blood in a normal human body - should be somewhere around 4.5-5l if my memory serve. What percentage of that value you think can substitute with alcohol? Oct 12, 2021 at 1:56
• As a guide for your researches, engineering toolbox has some useful info re several organic compounds inc. methanol/ethanol and many others and lots of links to thermodynamic principles etc. Oct 12, 2021 at 2:39
• A really, really large man (250 lb+) that is drunk to the point of falling into a coma from it, has enough alcohol in his blood to fill 2 cups. That's enough firestarter fluid to light two barbecue fires, or to start a bonfire but have everyone groan at how lame the startup is. Or to power a typical WWII infantry flamethrower for 1/3 of a second. Oct 12, 2021 at 6:15
• @PcMan in blood? maybe in the body, mainly/specifically the last few cups in the digestive system to be absorbed. Oct 12, 2021 at 15:13

Comments under the question address how much alcohol could be in someone's blood. I'll assume you've handwaved away the limitation that they're unconscious by the time they've accumulated enough to be worth burning.

I've built a stove that burns alcohol. It's basically the bottom of a drinks can in a windshield. If I load that up with 10 ml of fuel, several minutes later I'll have a cup of boiling water. The only major difference between alcohols (denatured ethanol, methanol, and isopropanol) is how visible the flame is/how much soot I get. Even acetone is similar (note it's possible for a human body to produce ketones). This means you need a lot of fuel to get a big flame.

You would of course do better with a jet than an open cup, but you'd need far more fuel as the jet would need to be ignited at the mouth/nozzle and keep burning to the target. From doing a little firebreathing years ago, a mouthful (up to about 100ml) of paraffin/kerosene produces a visually impressive flame but you'd do more damage chucking the fuel can at your target - and have greater range. Perhaps with enough pressure behind it you'd be able to use this to hurt someone at a decent range. I'd expect alcohols to be less effective; they have also sometimes been used in firebreathing (but note toxicity in the real world) but produce smaller, less impressive flames. You may use gauntlets, but this gives an idea of what you can get for biologically relevant quantities and non-ideal nozzles.

An even bigger problem would be separation of the alcohol from the bloodstream. You can't filter alcohol out of water with anything short of a reverse osmosis system, and even they're not very good at it while needing lots of power and bulk. Carrying the fuel already separated would be far more efficient.

On the whole I think you'd be better looking at some sort of berserker

• Thinking about what you said about how you could't seperate the alcohol and the blood, does blood with high (In this case as he is a fictional character, Unrealistically high) alcohol contamination have any unique properties that could be useful in combat? Because if he was a berserker he could punch them hard enough to cause his fists to bleed. I don't know if it would be useful but thought you might have an opinion on it. Oct 13, 2021 at 1:52
• @Mattna if the concentration of alcohol in the blood was high enough to kill a normal person, it might sting a bit of it got in a wound. It's no longer recommended but alcohol (around 70% concentration) has long been used to clean open wounds and is still used on skin (e.g. hand sanitiser). That's enough to burn with a source of ignition, but at that kind of concentration you'd kill the mutant's blood cells so a whole new biochemistry would be needed Oct 13, 2021 at 7:30
• So you would actually be cleaning the wounds you inflict lol Oct 13, 2021 at 8:38
• @Mattna yes, disinfecting them. I wonder. Now I wonder about a tolerance to methanol that would kill others as it's toxic Oct 13, 2021 at 8:48
• I do agree thats interesting but I can't really imagine how it would be used as a weapon unless he got enemies to eat it before fighting. Unless he could make himself immune to it but I'm not sure it would be the best option haha Oct 13, 2021 at 11:39

Some ideas for this:

1. Poisonous bite, where alcohol is the venom. The venom is stored in a specialised organ in the body and is released upon biting. Injecting a large volume of ethanol into the bloodstream of the victim would weaken the victim's ability to fight back. Moreover, perhaps ethanol is converted to methanol in the venom gland, making deadlier in relatively low concentrations.
2. Resistance to a pathogen. The character has grenade-like packages that can be thrown at people. When a package breaks, it releases a puff of dust that contains deadly bacteria. The bacteria can normally infect anyone quickly but high blood alcohol content wards these bacteria off.

/On the whole I think you'd be better looking at some sort of berserker @Chris H/

Oh yeah.

1. He is stronger when he drinks alcohol. In large part because he is less careful but he is also stronger because he is singing his fighting song.

2. His weapon is whatever is handy. It is never the same thing twice because that thing is usually not fit to be used as a weapon the second time.

3. His drink of choice is 160 proof moonshine with some herbs in it. He strips off his clothes, pours some on himself and lights himself on fire. He is a very hairy dude which helps hold the alcohol. He is also very sweaty which helps him not get burned. He will only burn for a while unless it has been a while since he did this, in which case his hair will burn longer because it is longer. The burning hair makes a lot of smoke.

4. His main attack is wrestling which he uses after he breaks whatever he was using as a weapon. I learned in junior high "never fight a wrestler, because they won't fight. They will wrestle. And they know how to hurt you." Your flaming naked man will close with opponents and grapple them. He is loud when he does this because he is singing, like he was before he did it.

The flames are not that hot and unless you catch fire yourself they will probably not damage you any more than you already get damaged. And you will probably not catch fire because you have wet yourself because this dude is terrifying.

• I like your idea of the crazy berserker type, I just have one question about the hair. The way you explained the hair burning suggests to me that he could only use this fire ability after his hair regrows. If this makes sense, how long would he have to wait for his hair to regrow? And how long could it burn for? Oct 13, 2021 at 1:48
• If you pour alcohol on bare skin, or a baked alaska, it will burn off. For skin it is a party trick. If you have a lot of greasy hair maybe it will catch on fire and keep burning. I am sure a lot of matted body hair would burn longer than clean shaven skin. I think if you assert it one way or the other in your story readers will roll with it. Oct 13, 2021 at 13:09
• Yeah that makes sense I'll have a think about it Oct 14, 2021 at 0:44