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Molotov Cocktail

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"Molotovs, hell yeah!"
"Fire in a bottle baby."

The Molotov Cocktail is a throwable weapon that engulfs an area with flames for approximately 15 to 17 seconds. The area of effect is quite large and spreads over time before self-extinguishing. The fire will burn all Infected that come into contact with it. While Common Infected cannot attack after being ignited and die in seconds, Special Infected can withstand the fire until their health is burned away. The Molotov Cocktail is dangerous in close combat because the splash damage and flames may cause you and nearby teammates to lose health. While it is burning, it can ignite other combustibles such as the gas can, the propane tank, fireworks, the explosive barrel and the oxygen tank. Such items will continue burning even after being picked up, making them unsalvagable after ignition.



  • When a Common Infected is on fire, neither the Infected itself or the fire on it will damage you, and water will not extinguish the flame. A burning Common Infected is generally considered dead (bots will not shoot them), but the fire can obstruct your sight and distract you.
  • Throwing a Molotov at a wall does not break it; it must hit the floor. This also applies to Special Infected; hitting one directly with a Molotov does not burn it. It must hit the floor instead.
  • It is important in Versus and high campaign difficulties to conserve at least one Molotov for the Tank. Tanks have a lot of health, so they take a lot of damage from fire. They also can't extinguish themselves (nor can any other ignited Special Infected) unless there is a body of water nearby, insuring constant, significant damage.
    • In Versus mode, Tanks will often actively avoid fire for this reason. Take advantage of their hesitancy by blocking the path behind you with fire, giving you a chance to run ahead with only three Special Infected impeding you.
      • If you run far enough fast enough, you may be able to make the Tank die of frustration, allowing you to avoid a confrontation entirely.
      • You can also block the path in front of you with fire to temporarily stop the Tank from attacking you. The 15-17 second burn time is more than long enough to heal, revive an incapacitated player, deal with lingering Common or Special infected, or run back to a more easily defensible area.
    • While it isn't extraordinarily difficult to defeat Tanks on lower difficulties, high difficulty Tanks and Versus Tanks can be a credible threat to even the most skilled teams. Successfully igniting a Tank can be the difference between victory and defeat in these scenarios.
    • A burning Tank will survive for 30 seconds on Normal difficulty, 40 on Advanced, and 45 on Expert. Only in Left 4 Dead's Campaign and Survival modes, setting the Tank on fire will increase his running speed, since he doesn't have much time to attack the Survivors.
  • Molotovs can bounce off walls slightly, giving you a chance to run away from the flame or throw it around a corner.
  • Generally, refrain from throwing Molotovs in front of you, unless there is a Tank, a Horde, or the game is on Easy or Normal difficulty (in which fire does insignificant damage if one does not dawdle in the area of effect). If the area ahead is engulfed in fire and it isn't safe to run through it, your team will be forced to wait it out, giving the Infected and Special Infected time to spawn.
    • Some Infected might take the opportunity to pull (Smoker), lead (Jockey), or carry (Charger) a Survivor into or past the flames, cutting the victim off from their teammates and dealing extra damage over time (if they are stuck in the fire).
    • Also, be wary of Hunters attacking from the fire; they will be ignited, and therefore deal damage faster upon pouncing.
  • Do not hit teammates. If they are incapacitated inside a fire, it may be difficult to revive them without being incapacitated yourself. On Expert difficulty, even Survivors with full health can die from the flames.
  • Setting a Witch on fire will gradually burn her health away and slow her movement (unlike the Bile Bomb, which you should never use on a Witch unless far away), making her easier to kill.
    • Burning a Witch with the said weapon is rather risky, as it takes quite some time to kill, but in playing Left 4 Dead 2, burning the Witch then running with Adrenaline makes killing a Witch much easier.
    • Use fire with caution: setting fire to a Witch that is targeting a different survivor will cause her to shift her attack to the one who set her on fire.
    • There's a trick to set her on fire without her attacking. To do this, throw a Molotov to her and go idle before it hits the ground. If done correctly she will not be startled and will simply die without any risks to survivors. This trick is very useful on Expert and Realism mode where Witches are very dangerous. It's recommended to bind a key to go_away_from_keyboard since using the menu gives little time. This trick also works for gas cans.
  • Infected AI does not attempt to avoid fire in any way. If you know where a Horde is coming from, throw the Molotov at a choke point between the Horde and your teammates. Try to throw the Molotov just as they reach the choke point in order to increase the likelihood of burning the entire Horde before the flames expire. Note that they may try to find a way around the fire, but it is not likely. Infected will travel in a straight line unless a static object is blocking the way. The fact that Infected seem to surround the Survivors is due to the AI counting other Infected as an obstacle to get around.
    • Notice that in Versus, human players may avoid fire and attack Survivors from other side. Boomers may try to walk through fire to ambush the Survivors and make himself a ticking bomb.
  • If you throw the Molotov at the edge of the water (on a riverbank), it will still burn normally regardless of the water. However, the Molotov will not burn normally if thrown into the water.
    • There is at least one exception to this: Death Toll's first Crescendo Event in the storm drains. A Molotov thrown into the shallow water will burn as normal.
    • Also, despite the way water affected the Molotov in Left 4 Dead, it does not seem to affect them at all in Left 4 Dead 2. The many water-filled areas of Swamp Fever and Hard Rain can still support Molotov fire. Even the heavy downpours in the Hard Rain campaign cannot douse the flames. This is most likely for gameplay purposes, as if the water causes the flames to extinguish, a Tank/Horde will be free to kill the players easily without any more Molotovs being thrown at them.
      • However, since water will still extinguish a burning Tank or Special Infected, throwing a Molotov into water will be ineffective, as the Tank or Special Infected may simply extinguish itself in the surrounding water.
  • If a player is attacked by a pinning Infected (Jockey, Charger, Hunter, Smoker) in an area that the Survivors can't see (i.e. before a point of no return that the other Survivors have crossed), consider throwing a Molotov to ignite the attacking Infected. On lower difficulties, it is probable that the Survivor will be freed by the fire and still have enough health to reach their teammates without being incapacitated in the fire or by other Infected.
    • Such a strategy is viable for other grenades too, but the wide area of effect and instant activation of the Molotov makes it an especially prudent choice.
    • This strategy can also be performed to kill or weaken Special Infected that are hiding out of the Survivors' line of sight. Igniting a Tank that is hidden on a rooftop throwing rocks will force it to come down and attack you, giving you a chance to kill it.
    • In Scavenge Mode, this strategy can be used to destroy dropped gas cans that are out of reach and out of line of sight, allowing them to respawn in a reachable area.
  • Since the Molotov will not set off car alarms, a common strategy is to lob a Molotov at a car alarm to kill any Smokers that would try to pull you towards the car (which will set off the car alarm).
  • A somewhat risky tactic, when you are surrounded by Common Infected and need to get away fast, is to throw the Molotov at your feet and run. The fire will kill any Common Infected surrounding you. This is referred to as "Ninja-Toving" by some players. This should never be attempted on Expert and only on Advanced if you have green health; in other difficulties, this only does about 5-8 damage to you.
  • You can clean a small room with Infected if you throw a Bile Bomb and then throw a Molotov where the Bile Bomb "explodes". Since the Infected don't avoid the fire, they will just walk into it. This method requires two teammates (one carrying the Bile Bomb and one carrying the Molotov) or can be done if you have Bile Bomb and a Molotov is on the ground nearby.


Molotov icon

Early HUD icon.

  • Though it will eventually kill it, the Hunter does greater than normal damage when it is on fire. The bonus fire damage is only gained by lighting a Hunter on fire using a Molotov or gas can, not environmental fire (like in The Hotel).
    • Pouncing a Survivor who is standing in or walking through fire will redouble this bonus, providing extra damage both from you being on fire and from the fire around them. If the fire is not extinguished before you are killed, they will still be stuck in the fire while they stand up, further increasing the bonus damage they receive.
  • As a Boomer, you can set yourself on fire to become a ticking time bomb. Run into Survivors to explode forcefully, since the Survivors can't safely push you away and shoot you without the risk of being exploded on. However, Boomers don't have very much health, so don't set yourself on fire too early.
    • If the Survivors run through the fire, attempt to explode while they are still in or near the flames. Survivors that are stumbled by your death will remain in the fire longer than otherwise, increasing the damage they receive from it.
  • If you're playing as a Smoker, a great tactic is to drag a Survivor through the flames, causing extra damage and preventing others from rescuing them via shoving without taking damage. The fire can also obscure the Survivors' vision, making it more difficult for them to hit you. However, take care, as they can kill you with their weapons; flame doesn't evaporate bullets.
  • In Versus, as a Tank, the Survivor team will immediately attempt to light you on fire. You must do your best to avoid the Molotov or gas cans they set up. If you are stuck in front of a choke point, you'll often have no choice but to run through and be lit. Either look for a way to extinguish your flames from water, or failing that, waste no time running at the Survivors and inflicting as much damage as possible.
    • It might be a good idea to wait for your team to pin any Survivors that have Molotovs before attacking, delaying the threat of incendiary retribution by the Survivors. Consider pinning Survivors carrying Molotovs if you are an Infected supporting a Tank.
    • Similarly, if possible, use the element of surprise to incapacitate any Survivors near you that are carrying Molotovs. A skilled Tank can land one initial hit on an unaware Survivor, then continue pounding them until they are incapacitated without any chance for them to use a Molotov.
      • Be careful, however, as this will probably force you to stand still, leaving you vulnerable to other Survivors' attacks and other Molotovs or gas cans.
  • A good tactic for the Jockey is to try to ride a Survivor through the flames. This will cause flame damage and cut the lone Survivor off from the rest who will have to wait for the flames to stop in order to save their companion.
  • When playing as the Spitter, try to spit just in front of the flames where the Survivors are standing. The acid will cause them to panic and try to escape in any way possible, and this will cause some players to unintentionally jump into the flames, causing extra damage and confusion.
  • As the Charger, try to take players through the flames to the other side. This will hurt you, but it hurts the Survivor as well and will leave them cut off from the rest of the group. Hitting any additional Survivors is a bonus, as if they land in the fire, they will receive extra damage before they are able to rescue their teammate, or even before they can stand up!
  • Predict where they will throw it through the use of environment. If you think they will throw it there, move somewhere else.
  • Remember that if you can pin, lead, carry or drag a Survivor out of sight while they are separated from their teammates by fire, they will be forced to either walk through the fire, causing them bonus damage, or wait for the fire to die down, giving you a chance to deal extra damage.

Left 4 Dead 2Edit

Molotov b

The early Molotov.

In Left 4 Dead 2, during the campaigns Dead Center and The Sacrifice, using a Molotov or incendiary ammo on the CEDA Worker Infected or Jimmy Gibbs Jr. will have no effect due to the hazmat suits or fireproof racing suit they are wearing.

Behind the ScenesEdit

An early screenshot shows that the Molotov was gray and had a different-shaped top before becoming the final design. It was also intended to be a usable weapon in Valve's other game, Half-Life 2, but was cut from that final version of the game before being introduced into Left 4 Dead.


Left 4 DeadEdit

L4d 101 cremations 101 CREMATIONS (20G)
Set 101 Infected on fire.

L4d towering inferno TOWERING INFERNO (10G)
Light a Tank on fire with a Molotov.

L4d burn the witch BURN THE WITCH (10G)
Light a Witch with a Molotov.

Left 4 Dead 2Edit

Fried piper FRIED PIPER (15G)
Using a Molotov, burn a Clown leading at least 10 Common Infected.


  • The Molotov in-game is based on the Molotov cocktail, which has become a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons. The Molotov cocktail was named by the Finns after Vyacheslav Molotov, who was the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union during the Winter War. The name was invented in the Winter War, when Soviet bombs were named "Molotovs bread-baskets," and the Molotov cocktail became "a drink to go with the bread."
  • You can hold a burning Molotov for as long as you want and it will not explode or catch fire, even though it already is on fire. Technically, this is because the bottle has to break and spread the fuel inside to cause the primary burning. The Pipe Bomb and its lit fuse can also be held indefinitely.
    • Like the Pipe Bomb, the rag of the Molotov will automatically ignite even though there is no hint that the survivor used a lighter.
  • In the censored version of the game, the fire from Molotovs (as well as global fire in general) does not appear on Infected or Special Infected except for the Tank. This is actually a gameplay-influencing censorship due to the fact that players who have the censored version can't see if an Infected is on fire or not. The only way to tell if a Common Infected is on fire is by whether or not it appears to be stumbling or trying to put the fire out.
  • Unlike the first Left 4 Dead, in Left 4 Dead 2, the Common Infected will show severe burns after a Molotov attack, or any other fire in general.
  • The Tank and the Boomer are the only few Special Infected to show different skins after they die in certain ways in Left 4 Dead. The Tank and Boomer will appear to have dried up and burnt skin after you kill them with fire. But in Left 4 Dead 2, because of the new gore system and the special effects, there is a different death for all Infected. Also, in Left 4 Dead 2, lighting the Tank on fire in any way will have it be scorched and blackened.
  • Survivor bots will refuse to pick up Molotovs or any other type of throwable item due to the complexity of programming them to use them tactically being far too difficult. However, using the Console command "bot_mimic 1," it is possible for them to pick up and throw Pipe Bombs, Molotovs and Bile Bombs.
  • The gasoline and rag of the Molotov have jigglebone effects, much like the Bile Bomb.
  • The Molotov Cocktail appears in Counter Strike: Global Offensive as a fire grenade that is only available for the Terrorists. The sounds effects are also reused from the Left 4 Dead series. Its CT counterpart is the Incendiary Grenade. However, their fire duration is only 7 seconds for balancing reasons.
  • It is possible to throw an infinite number of Molotovs, if a player throws their Molotov and then immediately picks up a gas can, the Molotov will still be in their inventory. If repeated, this allows you to throw an endless number of Molotovs. This DOES work if you pick up a propane tank or oxygen tank. Known to work on the Xbox 360 version of Left 4 Dead. As seen here.

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