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"Cauldrons have had a magical association for centuries. "
— Description[src]

A cauldron is a vessel similar to a bucket or kettle, which was used to brew and hold potions and also used to carry supplies. Cauldrons were heated over an open fire and could be hung over a fire from an iron handle.[1]


Early history

Cauldrons were once used by Muggles and wizards and witches alike, being large metal cooking pots that could be suspended over fires. In time, magical and non-magical people alike moved on to stoves; saucepans became more convenient and cauldrons became the sole province of witches and wizards, who continued to brew potions in them. A naked flame was essential for the making of potions, which made cauldrons the most practical pot of all.[1]

Modern developments

Two different varieties of cauldron

While cauldrons remained classic potion-making utensils, there were attempts to revolutionise the cauldron, like the invention of the Self-Stirring Cauldron by Gaspard Shingleton,[6] or the Collapsible Cauldron.[4][1] Humphrey Belcher once theorised "the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron" (Albus Dumbledore would later comment he had been "woefully wrong" in this belief).[7]

The Fire Crab, which resembled a tortoise with a jewelled shell that shot fire out its back end, was prized for its shell for use as a cauldron. This practise of poaching led to protected colonies in its native habitat of Fiji island.[8]

All cauldrons were enchanted to make them lighter to carry, as they were most commonly made of pewter or iron. Modern inventions included the self-stirring and collapsible varieties of cauldron, and pots of precious metal were also available for the specialist, or the show-off.[1]

The Felifors Spell was a Transfiguration spell which could transform cats into cauldrons. It was taught to third-year students in Transfiguration during the 1986–1987 school year at Hogwarts by Professor McGonagall.[9]

Cauldron thickness

"We're trying to standardise cauldron thickness. Some of these foreign imports are just a shade too thin — leakages have been increasing at a rate of almost three percent a year."
Percy Weasley's explanation of cauldron regulation[src]

In general, cauldrons had to stand up to great wear and usage. As one of his first assignments with the Ministry of Magic, Percy Weasley worked with the Department of International Magical Co-operation lobbying for a standard for cauldron thickness. Apparently, there was an issue with sub-standard imported cauldrons having defective, thin bottoms.[10] Perhaps this was the cause for Neville Longbottom's knack for melting cauldrons during Potions class. First years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry used pewter standard size 2 cauldrons, as mentioned on the list that accompanied their Hogwarts acceptance letter.[4]

Types of cauldron

Here is a list of known types of cauldrons, including those created as prank devices:

Cauldrons in wizarding culture

Behind the scenes

A melted cauldron on Pottermore

A cauldron as seen in Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells

Author's comments

"Cauldrons have had a magical association for centuries. They appear in hundreds of years' worth of pictures of witches, and are also supposed to be where leprechauns keep treasure. Many folk and fairy tales make mention of cauldrons with special powers, but in the Harry Potter books they are a fairly mundane tool. I did consider making Helga Hufflepuff's hallow a cauldron, but there was something slightly comical and incongruous about having such a large and heavy Horcrux; I wanted the objects Harry had to find to be smaller and more portable. However, a cauldron appears both in the four mythical jewels of Ireland (its magical power was that nobody ever went away from it unsatisfied) and in the legend of The Thirteen Treasures of Britain (the cauldron of Dyrnwch the giant would cook meat for brave men, but not for cowards)."


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Notes and references