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Looked and looked, can't find the answer anywhere (maybe I'm blind):

How long does Alchemist's Fire burn for?

In the item description within the Adventuring Gear section of the rules, it says:

On a hit, the target takes 1d4 fire damage at the start of each of its turns. A creature can end this damage by using its action to make a DC 10 Dexterity check to extinguish the flames.

Yet no mention of the burn rate. One round after a hit? 2? A minute? Continuous until extinguished?

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It burns until extinguished

Alchemist’s Fire.
... On a hit, the target takes 1d4 fire damage at the start of each of its turns. A creature can end this damage by using its action to make a DC 10 Dexterity check to extinguish the flames. (Basic Rules, p. 47; PHB, p. 151)

If no effort is made to extinguish the fire, it will keep burning. The descriptive text does not have a time limit. Compare that to oil (flask) which does:

If lit, the oil burns for 2 rounds and deals 5 fire damage to any creature that enters the area or ends its turn in the area. Basic Rules, p. 52)

The attack can miss, however, so it's not a guaranteed problem for the target.

Make a ranged attack against a creature or object, treating the alchemist’s fire as an improvised weapon

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does this mean that Alchemist's Fire can sit on something non-flammable, and will continue to burn forever without intervention? Because that sounds like a poor man's Continual Flame. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DanielZastoupil I suggest that you ask that as a separate question. If you look at the text I cited, if you don't take fire damage in the first place (not being able to burn, immune to fire) then you can't take more fire damage the next turn ... but I really thing you should ask that as a separate question. Might attract some very interesting answers. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 20:23
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The rules don't say. Make a ruling.

The description of Alchemist's Fire covers only one use case: throwing the flask at a creature that you want to set on fire. The only described way for the fire to go out is for the creature to extinguish it. (Note that extinguishing it doesn't require magic or special tools, just dexterity, implying that it is a mundane fire that needs air.)

Other than that, the rules say nothing about how long the fire keeps burning.

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Technically it never stops burning on its own however, the duration should not be infinite. Please read the following and decide for yourself...

The RAW lists no duration, technically this would mean that it burns forever until extinguished. This doesn't make much sense however, as the description states that it "ignites" when exposed to air. To ignite is to combust (they are synonyms) and "combust" means to consume by fire and "consume" means to use up. Any material not infinite in quantity cannot be consumed infinitely. Thus the material would not be able to burn forever. Alchemist's Fire is also not a magical item and so there isn't any magic at play in it's effect or duration. Thus I believe it would make sense to rule that the duration of alchemist's fire is something like 10 minutes or 1 hour tops.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ this answer does not seem to add anything to the other answers already provided and was a late answer. As such I recomend deletion as a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 0:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewADeMarco My answer is actually contrary to the other answers provided. It also provides a logical reasoning to support my answer. Thus I do not see how it could be a duplicate answer. I also clarified the header a little so that the intention of the answer is apparent to anyone just skimming through and not reading the entirety of the answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 1:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ It agrees that by raw there is no end, then suggests house ruling an end. It is also similar to "the rules don't say, make a ruling" above. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 12:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewADeMarco Yes it does state the RAW rules, because that is one possible answer to the question and yes, it does also tell DM's to decide for themselves, because that is yet another possible answer to the question. It does however, provide a reasonable argument for choosing one option over the other, which the other answers did not. My answer also used the verbiage of RAW to define the most sensible interpretation of RAW. The information and logic in my answer may be of assistance to those in similar situations as the OP and would be valuable to those searching for guidance in the forums. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 19:13

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