"The Draught of Living Death brings upon its drinker a very powerful sleep that can last indefinitely. This draught is very dangerous if not used with caution ... This is an extremely dangerous potion. Execute with maximum caution."
—Abstract from Advanced Potion-Making[src]

The Draught of Living Death is an extremely powerful sleeping draught, sending the drinker into a deathlike slumber. Its effects are similar to suspended animation. This draught is an advanced potion, taught to sixth year N.E.W.T. students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.[1]


"I dare say that one drop would kill us all."
—Horace Slughorn on Harry Potter's potion[src]

A wizard prince once used the Wiggenweld Potion to awaken a princess who had been given the Draught of Living Death by the Hag Leticia Somnolens. The prince first put some of the Wiggenweld Potion on his lips and then kissed the princess, causing her to awaken from her death-like slumber.[5]

In 1991, Professor Severus Snape interrogated Harry Potter in his first Potions class with him over the ingredients needed for this potion, to see if Harry was paying attention in his class.[3]

At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry students are required to attempt this potion in their sixth year N.E.W.T. class. In 1976 Severus Snape and his classmates attended this potion, as in 1996 Horace Slughorn commented on the excellent job he did. In 1996 Harry Potter's attempt at brewing this potion went rather well, as at the time he had the assistance of the Half-Blood Prince's copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Harry succeeded in turning the potion to the idealistic shade of pale lilac that signals the half-way stage. None of his other classmates succeeded in this, which hints at the complexity and advanced nature of the potion.[1]

At some point, Gethsemane Prickle brewed a Draught of Living Death to help subdue a Mountain Troll that had escaped from Percival Shacklehorn's tent into London, England.[6]


"We have a little over an hour left to us, which should be time for you to make a decent attempt at the Draught of Living Death. I know it is more complex than anything you have attempted before, and I do not expect a perfect potion from anybody."
—Slughorn explaining the potion's difficulty[src]

The potion is difficult to concoct, since Hermione Granger, a very talented potion-maker, who managed to concoct Polyjuice Potion (which was in no small way a difficult potion to make) in her second year, had trouble doing it in her sixth. Indeed, Horace Slughorn states that only once before in his career was a student (presumably Severus Snape, the Half-Blood Prince whose bookmarked instructions deviated from the potion-making process made a far more effective draught than any other student, though this was never confirmed) able to brew a mostly finished draught in only a single hour.[1]

Brewing instructions


A bottle of the Draught of Living Death

"The Draught of Living Death is a very powerful sleeping potion that can be made by adding powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood"

The following recipe can be followed to brew this potion:[7]

  1. Add the Infusion of Wormwood.
  2. Add the Powdered Root of Asphodel.
  3. Stir twice clockwise.
  4. Add the sloth brain.
  5. Add the Sopophorous bean's juice.
  6. Stir seven times anti-clockwise.

Severus Snape's notes

  • The Sopophorous bean should be crushed with a silver dagger, not cut, as it releases juices more efficiently in that manner.[1]
  • Add a clockwise stir after every seventh counterclockwise stir.[1]

Behind the scenes

Screenshot 450

The Recipe as seen in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7

  • In the first film, it is called "The Draught of the Living Dead".
  • In the sixth film, Slughorn tests the potions by placing a leaf into each; when he places it into Harry's, the leaf disintegrates. He also states that it was "so perfect one drop would kill us all"; this was likely an exaggeration because the potion is a sleeping potion not a poison.
  • It's possible the potion was inspired by a draught of a similar nature from the play Romeo and Juliet, which Juliet drinks and puts her into a coma to trick her family and start and new life with Romeo.
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, drinking the potion will turn the player into a skeleton.
  • The Valerian root is a natural sedative.
  • The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince gives the following recipe:
  1. Cut up the Sopophorous bean
  2. Pour in 250 fl.oz. of Standard potioning water and add 5 oz. of African Sea Salt to the beaker. Set the beaker aside after all the water has been added. Be very careful not to shake or move the beaker now.
  1. Leave the water and salt to rest for five minutes.
  2. Slowly pour all the water into the cauldron.
  3. With your left hand use the graduated cylinder to obtain 40 fl.oz. of essence of wormwood.
  4. With your right hand hold the cauldron at a slight angle and pour ten drops (20 fl.oz.) of essence of wormwood.
  5. Now with your left hand hold the cauldron at a slightly different angle and pour another ten drops of wormwood essence.
  6. Chop three Valerian roots into small squared pieces. After cutting place it in a beaker with water. Leave it to settle for five minutes. Your potion should now be resembling a smooth blackcurrant-coloured liquid.
  7. Carefully pour the Sopophorous bean's juice into the cauldron
  8. Add seven drops of the reduced liquid from the beaker; make sure there are no traces or fragments of Valerian root.
  9. Stir the potion ten times clockwise; your potion should now be turning a light shade of lilac.
  10. With your right hand stir the potion counterclockwise until the potion turns as clear as water; every stir should take approximately two and a half seconds.
  11. Slowly put in seven square pieces of Valerian root.
  12. Stir the potion ten times counterclockwise.
  13. Add one hundred and fifty fl.oz. of Powdered Root of Asphodel.
  14. Hold the cauldron with your right hand; with your left hand gently stir the potion ten times counterclockwise and eight times clockwise.
  15. Leave the potion to settle for two and a half minutes.
  16. Add one small piece of Valerian root.
  17. Your potion should turn to a pale pink colour; the preparation is now complete.
  • In the film, the following equipment is necessary:
    • Standard size cauldron (presumably pewter)
    • 150 fl.oz beaker
    • 50 fl.oz. graduated cylinder
    • Standard test tube
    • 250 fl.oz. measuring cup
    • Stirring rod
    • Dropper
  • The Nintendo DS version of the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince gives this recipe, as altered by the Half-Blood Prince:
  1. Shake vial of moondew and replace.
  1. Heat cauldron to the marked temperature.
  2. Pour moondew into cauldron. Potion should turn pink.
  3. Pour sloth brain into cauldron. Potion should turn cyan.
  4. Add flower heads to cauldron. Potion should turn green.
  5. Stir potion until blue.
  • It remains unclear if the student who once brewed a mostly-finished draught in Horace's class was Severus Snape (owner of Harry Potter's copy of Advanced Potion-Making) or Lily Evans (who Slughorn claimed to be a dab hand at Potions), although judging that this was affirmed only in the film is more likely that Slughorn was referring to Severus.
  • In the film adaption, Snape made further amends to using 13 Sopophorus beans instead of 12.


Notes and references

Potions (class)
Arsenius Jigger · Bilius Finbok · Damocles Belby · Erica Stainwright · Fleamont Potter · Gethsemane Prickle · Gilderoy Lockhart · Glossy · Glover Hipworth · Golpalott · Gregory the Smarmy · Gunhilda de Gorsemoor · Hector Dagworth-Granger · Hesper Starkey · J. Pippin · Laverne de Montmorency · Libatius Borage · Linfred of Stinchcombe · Mulpepper · Nicolas Flamel · Phineas Bourne · Quintia McQuoid · Regulus Moonshine · Rubens Winikus · Sacharissa Tugwood · Skower · Tilden Toots · Dr. Ubbly · Vindictus Viridian · Zygmunt Budge
Potions at Hogwarts
Cauldron cupboard · Dungeon Five · Potions basement · Potions Classroom · Potions Club · Potions Staircase · Potion Master's office · Potion Master's storeroom
Professors Bartholomew · Horace Slughorn · Severus Snape · Swoopstikes · Unnamed Professor (16th century) · Unnamed Professor (19th century) · Unnamed Professor (2021)
Textbooks Magical Drafts and Potions · One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi · Advanced Potion-Making · Moste Potente Potions · A Collection of Above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick, and Surgery
Potions studied at Hogwarts
Ageing Potion · Amortentia · Antidotes · Antidote to Common Poisons · Antidote to garish pink blended poison · Antidote to Uncommon Poisons · Befuddlement Draught · Calming Draught · Cheese-Based Potions · Confusing Concoction · Cough potion · Cure for Boils · Deflating Draught · Doxycide · Draught of Living Death · Draught of Peace · Elixir to Induce Euphoria · Erumpent Potion · Everlasting Elixirs · Felix Felicis · Fire Protection Potion · Forgetfulness Potion · Garish pink blended poison · Girding Potion · Hair-Raising Potion · Herbicide Potion · Hiccoughing Solution · Invigoration Draught · Laughing Potion · Memory Potion · Pepperup Potion · Polyjuice Potion · Pompion Potion · Potion for Dreamless Sleep · Regerminating Potion · Scintillation Solution · Shrinking Solution · Skele-Gro · Sleeping Draught · Strengthening Solution · Swelling Solution · Undetectable Poisons · Veritaserum · Weedosoros · Wideye Potion · Wiggenweld Potion · Wit-Sharpening Potion · Wound-Cleaning Potion

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