Note: I have read only the original trilogy and Alloy of Law so far.

Let me explain. Here's a quote from The Final Empire:

Dockson rolled his eyes. "The vial is filled with an alcohol solution and some flakes of metal, Vin."

Assuming that all of the vials that Mistborn and Mistings are seen drinking throughout the series are the same as this one, why is it that the alcohol doesn't have any kind of noticeable effect on their bodies? I don't pretend to know the science of this, but I would think that they would at least wake up with a hangover, or just fall over and die due to the alcohol.

  • 1
    How large are the vials? And how dilute is the solution?
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 21:39
  • 1
    @Adamant: Noted in book 3 to be "small." They've also been known to fit on people's belts.
    – CHEESE
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 21:41
  • 1
    So isn’t it plausible that there’s just not enough alcohol in them for someone to get drunk?
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 21:43
  • @Radhil - Quite true. Cod liver oil works, for example.
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 21:44
  • I would think that "an alcohol solution" means it would be very concentrated, and I was picturing them as about the size of a shot glass or something.
    – CHEESE
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 21:45

3 Answers 3


The vials probably don’t contain enough alcohol

Let’s say that the vials are the size of a typical laboratory vial, about 10 milliliters. We know from the quote given in the question that they contain, not alcohol, but an alcohol “solution.”

Waxillium Ladrian used whiskey (around 40% to 50% alcohol by volume here on Earth) in his vials, which is implied to be particularly strong.

Most Allomancers didn’t use whiskey in their metal vials. Most Allomancers were missing out on a perfect opportunity.

The Alloy of Law

The volume of a shot glass of whiskey is about 40 milliliters. So a single vial of standard alcohol solution, presumed to be less potent than whatever Wax is using, contains less than a quarter of the alcohol of a standard shot of whiskey. Not enough to get one drunk, let alone dead.

  • 2
    I'd also imagine that burning pewter would affect this as well...
    – PipperChip
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 10:12

There's a few things here:

  • Alcohol is a general preference, not a requirement

The only main requirement for the solution that contains the metal is that it won't chemically react at all or otherwise alter the metal. Admittedly, alcohol is fairly easy to get and consume, for flavor reasons if nothing else. Spook when he's on constant burn in Hero of Ages just uses a mug of water and mixes tin dust straight into it. Later in the series you will see someone use fish oil.

  • Vials aren't that big

Most vials do not contain more liquid than your average shot glass would. Only the hardest liquors would get someone drunk in that quantity, and only if they were downed with frequency. Vin seems to carry about 3 vials; that might be enough for a decent buzz, but isn't likely to make her fall over. (other answers have covered this pretty well while I'm typing.)

  • Higher metabolism burns off alcohol quicker

Alcohol gets processed through the body faster by physically fit individuals with a high metabolism, giving them less time with it's toxic effects. Anyone burning pewter has also automagically juiced up their body, further reducing any drunken side effects. Plus, naturally, our heroes are some of the most active people on the planet. They're gonna burn it off.


The vials are quite small, and contain an alcohol suspension of the metal. The sizes hinted at in the books match up with this official illustration for the Mistborn Adventure Game:

enter image description here
Click for full-size

Those small vials in tucked between the belt sash of the Mistborn are accurate to what is described in the books. A vial of that size would contain less than a shot.

Since we don't know the percentage of alcohol contained in the vials, we can really only go on quantity, and it's not much. We also know they don't start stumbling and acting drunk, even though Vin is quite small and tosses back multiple vials at a time, so we can also assume that it unlikely to be a very potent alcohol solution. It's just enough to keep the metals from rusting.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.