A Molotov cocktail (or petrol bomb) is a crude incendiary weapon which consists of a glass bottle semi-filled with flammable liquid, usually gasoline (petrol) or alcohol (generally methanol or ethanol), the mouth of the bottle is stoppered with a cork or other type of airtight bung (rubber, glass, or plastic), and a cloth rag fixed securely around the mouth. The weapon is used by first soaking the rag in a flammable liquid immediately prior to using it, lighting the rag and throwing the bottle at the target. The bottle shatters on impact, spilling the flammable liquid over the target which is then ignited by the burning rag.

Sometimes, if available, self-inflammatory materials (such as white phosphorus), could also be used to guarantee the bottle's explosion as it hits the target surface. Tar, palm oil or other thickening agents are often added to the composition in order to make the burning fluid stick to the target rather than run off. Finnish soldiers often used hand soap suds as their form of palm oil in their Molotov Cocktails. Modern variations of the Molotov cocktail also contain laundry detergent, liquid dish soap, or crushed up styrofoam cups. The Molotov cocktail is closely related to the same principle of Napalm bombs. Napalm is a contraction of the words naphtha (the flammable part of petrol) and palm oil. Sometimes acid is added to the mix to increase the damaging potential of the liquid, and to increase the chances for it to penetrate fire-resistant surfaces. Molotov cocktails are easy to make and are the standard weaponry of guerrilla warfare and violent rioters.

Despite the crudeness it is tricky for an amateur to make an effective Molotov cocktail. The main failure is in over-filling the bottle. A full bottle will not ignite quickly when it breaks on impact (but has a longer burning potential). For a device to explode rapidly on impact the bottle is only one half to two-thirds full of mixture. One difficulty of mention is not paying attention to carefully wiping the bottle down to remove all traces of the internal flammable liquid from the external parts of the bottle prior to lighting the rag. Another is to mistakenly use the ignition rag to stopper the bottle. Other difficulties come with the proper fixing of the stopper in the mouth of the bottle (it must be airtight to prevent fumes from escaping), the proper fixing of the rag (use metal wire to securely fasten it. Also, a short rag is better), the possibility of mishandling after the rag is ignited, and the use of inappropriate bottles, such as short-necked, wide-mouthed, too fragile or too tough.

The name "Molotov cocktail" is derived from Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, a Russian communist who was the Foreign Minister and Secretary of War of the Soviet Union during World War II. The soldiers of the Finnish Army successfully used Molotov cocktails against Red Army tanks in the two conflicts (Winter War and Continuation War) between Finland and the Soviet Union, and coined the term to mock Molotov (Soviet planes do not drop bombs but food to help starving Finnish people, he claimed in radio broadcasts).

Molotov cocktails were even mass-produced by the Finnish military, bundled with matches to light them. They had already been used in the Spanish Civil War, sometimes propelled by a sling.

These weapons saw widespread use by all sides in World War II. They were very effective against light tanks, and very bad for enemy morale. The following is a first-hand description of their effects, written during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943:

"The well-aimed bottles hit the tank. The flames spread quickly. The blast of the explosion is heard. The machine stands motionless. The crew is burned alive. The other two tanks turn around and withdraw. The Germans who took cover behind them withdraw in panic. We take leave of them with a few well-aimed shots and grenades. "
- Eyewitness Reporting for the ¯ydowska Organizacja Bojowa (Jewish Fighting Organization), 19 April 1943
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, members of the Israeli Kibbutz Dgania managed to stop a Syrian tank assault by using Molotov cocktails.
The increasingly violent protesters began throwing molotov cocktails at the riot police.
by Jimmy January 12, 2005
a bomb made up of a glass bottle with a flammable liquid inside and with a gasoline-soaked cloth inside and coming out the top. It is lit and thrown and explodes on impact creating an instant inferno. First used in World War 1
Big Bird: hey kids today we're gonna teahc you how to make your own molotov cocktail.
by PlayDohMan May 11, 2004
A crude bomb that can be made in ones kitchen sink. Usually its a mixture of high octane gasoline and laundry detergent. This mixture makes is very sticky and thick. Its basically a poor mans napalm bomb. This mixture is put in an empty bottle and then has a gasoline soaked rag stuffed into the top as a way to ignite the mixture. This is thrown at its target and is expected to break (the bottle) and spread the sticky mixture of highly flammable gasoline and ignite it. This then burns its target to a crisp.
The protesters were so violent they were fighting the police with molotov cocktails. Several hit their mark and made the cops crispy critters.
by The real private pyle November 12, 2003
A glassbottle filled with flammable substance and some form of fuse. To be used as a weapon (anti-tank).

Most commonly fuel and a rag soaked with something flammable. The rag will burn and clog the bottle's neck so that the flame spreads only when the bottle is broken (thrown at the target).

Named and made famous by Finns in the Winter War (1939-1940). Name comes from the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov who claimed in a radio broadcast that the Soviet airplanes dropped food to Finland during the war (instead they actually dropped RRAB-3 clusterbombs which the Finns comically named Molotov's bread baskets.) The Finns then decided to name the bottle they effectively used against Soviet tanks 'Molotov Cocktail' to go with "the food".

Nowadays used mostly by rioters and hooligans against the police. Also used in arsons.
Throw a Molotov Cocktail to the tank's air-intake to make it's engine stop!
by Shrewd Bone November 30, 2009
Molotov Cocktail
-An incendiary device that consists of a glass bottle, a flammable liquid, and a soaked rag
See Incendiary

It is made quickly and easily with household materials

The bottle is filled with the liquid (usually gasoline) and the rag is soaked in the liquid
The rag is then used as a fuse that ignites the liquid
When the rag is lit the bottle is thrown by user; the bottle then breaks upon impact; the liquid then spreads and ignites instantly, creating a large fireball (depending on liquid)

Molotov cocktails can be used to attack buildings, cars, and personnel and are extremely dangerous on the receiving end
A molotov cocktail was thrown into the house which burned down earlier
by GBowski July 18, 2004
A crude yet rather effective firebomb consisting of a bottle containing flammable materials (i.e kerosene, gasoline, oil, or other flammable things) with an ignited rag at the top. Somewhat easy to make, and used sometimes by rioters, rebels, and folks who just plain want to burn things.
Jimmy made a Molotov cocktail and threw it at the Old Crowley Place.
by Lancet Moonshadow January 21, 2005
a crude bomb made of a glass bottle filled with a mixture of flammable liquids and a piece of cloth for the wick (name satirically by Finnish to repel the soviet invasion during the year of 1940)
Among the other weapons use in Resident Evil 0, are the hunting gun and Molotov cocktail.
by Light Joker February 19, 2006