Left 4 Dead Wiki

"Might wanna save this for later."
"Grabbin' 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. Common Infected who run into the flames will burn to cinders, flailing wildly in the process. Special Infected, however, are able to withstand the heat; while they will burn to death unless they extinguish the fire, they can still attack Survivors. The Molotov Cocktail is dangerous in close combat because the splash damage and flames may cause the player 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 unsalvageable after ignition.



  • When a Common Infected is on fire, neither the Infected itself or the fire on it will damage the Survivors, 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 the player's sight and distract them.
  • Throwing a Molotov against a wall does not detonate it; it must hit the floor. This also applies to Special Infected; hitting one directly with a Molotov does not detonate it.
  • 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, ensuring constant, significant damage.
    • In Versus mode, Tanks will often actively avoid fire for this reason. The Survivors can take advantage of their hesitancy by blocking the path behind them with fire, giving them a chance to run ahead with only three Special Infected impeding them.
      • If the player runs far enough fast enough, they may be able to make the Tank die of frustration, allowing them to avoid a confrontation entirely.
      • The player can also block the path in front of them with fire to temporarily stop the Tank from attacking them. 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 80 seconds on all difficulties except Easy (where it's 75 sec), since the burning deals 0.25% of the tank's max health from the DoT every 0.2 seconds = 1.25% every second.
      • The same burning damage is inflicted by the Gas cans, Fireworks and when triggering Concert's stage fire. The initial (explosion) dmg of all mentioned incendiary items, if it hits him, is low, close to 10-20.
        • Since Fireworks have also non-burning (explosive) component for 10 seconds, if the Tank stays on the explosive fields, he will take more total damage
      • In Easy the Tank dies for 75 seconds because the game approximates the 7.5-damage to 8 per 0,2 seconds.
      • As a comparison, incendiary ammo will burn the tank only for 4 seconds, with the same damage speed, thus resulting in 5% max HP damage dealt.
      • The burning effects don't stack, thus meaning only one effect of 1.25% max HP per second will act at once
        • This means applying more incendiary ammo per 4 seconds or using more fire effects/items will decrease the total burning damage dealt, although this is limited to just the fire component.
    • 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 obstacles like walls & zombies slightly, giving the player a chance to run away from the flame or throw it around a corner.
  • Generally, the player should refrain from throwing Molotovs in front of themselves, 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, the Survivors 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 as well. 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 the player 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.
    • It is not recommended to set a Wandering Witch on fire. Unlike the normal sitting version, the flames will increase her speed and allow her to catch up to you.
    • There's a trick to set a Witch 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 do not attempt to avoid fire in any way. If the player is aware of where a Horde is coming from, they throw the Molotov at a choke point between the Horde and their 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.
    • In Versus, players on the Infected team may avoid the fire and attack Survivors from the other side. Boomers may try to walk through the fire to ambush the Survivors and make himself a ticking bomb.
  • If the player throws a Molotov at the edge of a body of 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 the Survivors, giving them 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 an alarmed car to kill any Smokers that would try to pull a Survivor towards the car (which will set off the car alarm).
  • A somewhat risky tactic, when the player is surrounded by Common Infected and needs to get away fast, is for the player to throw a Molotov at their 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 the player has green health; on other difficulties, this only does about 5-8 damage to the player.
  • The player can clean a small room with Infected if they 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 players (one carrying the bile bomb and one carrying the Molotov) or can be done if there is both a bile bomb and a Molotov on the ground nearby.


  • 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 the Hunter being on fire and from the fire around them. If the fire is not extinguished before the Hunter is killed, the Survivor will still be stuck in the fire while they stand up, further increasing the bonus damage they receive.
  • As a Boomer, the player can set themselves on fire to become a ticking time bomb. Run into Survivors to explode forcefully, since the Survivors can't safely push the Boomer away and shoot it without the risk of being exploded on. However, Boomers don't have very much health, so don't set it 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 the Boomer's death will remain in the fire longer than otherwise, increasing the damage they receive from it.
  • If 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 the player. However, take care, as they can still kill the player with their weapons.
  • In Versus, as a Tank, the Survivor team will usually immediately attempt to light the player on fire. The player must do their best to avoid the Molotov or gas cans they set up. If the player is stuck in front of a choke point, they will often have no choice but to run through and be lit. Either look for a way to extinguish the flames with 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 teammates to pin any Survivors that have Molotovs before attacking, delaying the threat of incendiary retribution by the Survivors. The player should consider pinning Survivors carrying Molotovs if they are an Infected supporting a Tank.
    • Similarly, if possible, the player can use the element of surprise to incapacitate any Survivors near them 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 the Tank to stand in one position, leaving him 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 may cause them to panic and try to escape in any way possible, and this may 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 the player, 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.
  • Try to predict where Survivors will throw Molotovs through the use of environment. If it appears that they will throw it in a certain location, move somewhere else.
  • Remember that if the player 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 the player a chance to deal extra damage.

Left 4 Dead 2[]

The early Molotov

Early HUD icon

In Left 4 Dead 2, during the campaigns "Dead Center", "No Mercy", 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 Scenes[]

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 Dead[]

Main article: Achievements

L4d 101 cremations.jpg
Set 101 Infected on fire.

L4d towering inferno.jpg
Light a Tank on fire with a Molotov.

L4d burn the witch.jpg
Light a Witch with a Molotov.

Left 4 Dead 2[]

Fried piper.jpg
Using a Molotov, burn a Clown leading at least 10 Common Infected.


  • This weapon is based on the eponymous Molotov cocktail, a Finnish improvised anti-tank incendiary weapon consisted of a burning piece of cloth and a bottle filled with igneous fuel. The term had since become a generic name for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons.
    • Because of this, Molotov Cocktail is technically one of the oldest weapons in the entire game.
  • The player can hold a burning Molotov for as long as they 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 games, 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 being killed 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 make him become scorched and blackened. Since The Last Stand update, all special infected will get scorched and blackened texture when lit on fire, however, the new common infected models added in the update to L4D1 campaigns do not.
  • Survivor bots will refuse to pick up Molotovs or any other type of throwable item, possibly due to the complexity of programming them to use them tactically being 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 wobbling effects, much like the Bile Bomb's liquid.
  • 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 the player to throw an endless number of Molotovs. This also 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.
  • The molotov creates an area of effect but in real life it would only be a few centimeters bigger than the bottle itself, and the radius of the flames would take time to extend out to where the end of the fuel puddle is.
  • Molotov cocktails and bile bombs can activate alarmed cars due to their glass structure.
Primary Weapons
Tier 1 Chrome invert.png Chrome Shotgun / Pump invert.png Pump Shotgun / MP5 Invert.png MP5 / Mac10 invert.png Silenced Submachine Gun / Uzi invert.png Submachine Gun
Tier 2 Ak invert.png AK-47 / Scar invert.png Combat Rifle / M16 invert.png M-16 Assault Rifle / SIG Invert.png SG 552 / Auto invert.png Auto Shotgun / Spas12 invert.png Combat Shotgun / AWSM Invert.png AWP / Hunting invert.png Hunting Rifle / Steyr Invert.png Scout / G3 invert.png Sniper Rifle
Special Tier Grenade launcher inverted.png Grenade Launcher / M60Icon.png M60 Machine Gun
Secondary Weapons
Sidearms Pistol inverted.png M1911 Pistol / Deagle invert.png Magnum Pistol / Pistol inverted.png P220 Pistol
Melee Weapons Bat invert.png Baseball Bat / Cricket invert.png Cricket Bat / Crowbar invert.png Crowbar / Axe invert.png Fireaxe / Pan invert.png Frying Pan / GolfClubIcon.png Golf Club / Guitar invert.png Guitar / Katana invert.png Katana / Knife Invert.png Knife / Machete invert.png Machete / Baton invert.png Nightstick / Icon pitchfork inverted.png Pitchfork / Icon shovel inverted.png Shovel
Special Tier Chainsaw invert.png Chainsaw
Other Weapons
Grenades Bile invert.png Bile Bomb / Molotov inverted.png Molotov Cocktail / Pipebomb invert.png Pipe Bomb
Upgrades L4D2 ammo explosive.png Explosive Ammunition / L4D2 ammo incendiary.png Incendiary Ammunition / Laser sight HUD invert.PNG Laser Sight
Fixed Weapons MMG Icon.png Heavy Machine Gun / Minigun icon.png Minigun
Usable Items Explosive Barrel HUD invert.png Explosive barrel / Fireworks icon.png Fireworks / Gas canister HUD invert.png Gas can / Oxytank icon.png Oxygen tank / Propane tank icon.png Propane tank
Special Items Cola.png Cola / Gnome icon.png Gnome Chompski
Featured in both games / L4D1-exclusive / L4D2-exclusive (Counter-Strike weapons / PC-exclusive)