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"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."
— Excerpt from Advanced Potion-Making[src]

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


"The clear winner! Excellent, excellent, Harry! Good lord, it's clear you’ve inherited your mother's talent."
— Horace Slughorn praising Harry Potter's potion[src]
Draught of Living Death HM

A bottle of Draught of Living Death

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.[7]

During the 1990–1991 school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Professor Severus Snape taught seventh-year Potions students how to brew this advanced potion.[2] Also during that school year, Olivia Green told Jacob's sibling that she remembered Duncan Ashe's accidental death was caused by an exceptionally potent brew of this potion that he made. Jacob's sibling thought this to be an incorrect memory, as they knew Duncan's death was instead caused by an Erumpent Potion.[8]

Barnaby's Draught of the Living Death HM7TB

Barnaby Lee's Draught of the Living Death

Later in this school year, Barnaby Lee feared failing his Potions N.E.W.T. due to his inability to brew an effective Draught of Living Death. Snape harshly reprimanded his ineffective brew during a lesson where he tasked his seventh-years with making a flawless draught. Jacob's sibling helped him learn the recipe from Advanced Potion-Making in the Hogwarts Library and then had Penny Haywood helped him brew it in the Potions Classroom. Penny deemed the brew he made with them to be strong enough to put them all in a deathlike slumber. He was able to brew a passable draught in class, satisfying Snape.[9]

On 1 September 1991 at Hogwarts, Professor 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. Harry Potter did not know the answer to Snape's questions, much to Snape's disappointment.[4]

Hermione brewing Draught of Living Death HBP

Hermione Granger brewing Draught of Living Death

At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry students were 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.[10]

Constance Pickering kept her grandfather Matthias Pickering subdued using this potion in her flat, hidden in a large trunk.[11]


"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 was 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 stated that only once before in his career was a student able to brew a mostly finished draught in only a single hour.[1]

Brewing instructions[]

"For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death."
— Professor Snape to Harry Potter[src]
Draught of Living Death Recipe

Draught of Living Death Recipe

The following recipe could be followed to brew this potion:

  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.[12]

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[]

  • 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 it is a sleeping potion, not a poison. However, the potion is said to be very dangerous if not used with caution, so presumably a more advanced and powerful version is more dangerous than lesser efforts.
  • It is 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.
  • In Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, according to Severus Snape, this potion is commonly featured in Muggle fairy tales.
  • 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.
  3. Leave the water and salt to rest for five minutes.
  4. Slowly pour all the water into the cauldron.
    Draught of the Living Death instructions LEGOY2

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

  5. With your left hand use the graduated cylinder to obtain 40 fl.oz. of essence of wormwood.
  6. With your right hand hold the cauldron at a slight angle and pour ten drops (20 fl.oz.) of essence of wormwood.
  7. Now with your left hand hold the cauldron at a slightly different angle and pour another ten drops of wormwood essence.
  8. 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.
  9. Carefully pour the Sopophorous bean's juice into the cauldron
  10. Add seven drops of the reduced liquid from the beaker; make sure there are no traces or fragments of Valerian root.
  11. Stir the potion ten times clockwise; your potion should now be turning a light shade of lilac.
  12. 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.
  13. Slowly put in seven square pieces of Valerian root.
  14. Stir the potion ten times counterclockwise.
  15. Add one hundred and fifty fl.oz. of Powdered Root of Asphodel.
  16. Hold the cauldron with your right hand; with your left hand gently stir the potion ten times counterclockwise and eight times clockwise.
  17. Leave the potion to settle for two and a half minutes.
  18. Add one small piece of Valerian root.
  19. Your potion should turn to a black 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.
  2. Heat cauldron to the marked temperature.
  3. Pour moondew into cauldron. Potion should turn pink.
  4. Pour sloth brain into cauldron. Potion should turn cyan.
  5. Add flower heads to cauldron. Potion should turn green.
  6. Stir potion until blue.
  • It remains unclear who the student who once brewed a mostly-finished draught in Horace's class was. It could possibly be Severus Snape or Lily Evans given Slughorn's praise for them as potioneers, but it is equally likely to be an unknown student given Slughorn's long teaching career.


Notes and references[]

Potions (class)
Arsenius Jigger · Baruffio · Bella Navarro · Bilius Finbok · Blossom Degrasse · Dai Ryusaki · Damocles Belby · Dorothy Sprottle · Erica Stainwright · Fatimah Lawang · Fleamont Potter · Gethsemane Prickle · Gilderoy Lockhart · Glossy · Glover Hipworth · Golpalott · Gregory the Smarmy · Gunhilda de Gorsemoor · Hector Dagworth-Granger · Hesper Starkey · Jalal Sehmi · J. Pippin · Laverne de Montmorency · Libatius Borage · Linfred of Stinchcombe · Mulpepper · Mundungus Fletcher · Nicolas Flamel · Phineas Bourne · Priya Treadwell · Quintia McQuoid · Regulus Moonshine · Rogue alchemist · Rubens Winikus · Sacharissa Tugwood · Skower · Tilden Toots · Dr Ubbly · Vindictus Viridian · Zenith Xeep · Zygmunt Budge
Potions at Hogwarts
Cauldron cupboard · Dungeon Five · Potions basement · Potions Classroom · Potions Club · Potions Staircase · Potion Master's office · Potions Storeroom
Professors Bartholomew · Horace Slughorn · Severus Snape · Swoopstikes · Unnamed Professor (16th century) · Aesop Sharp (19th century) · Unnamed Professor (2021)
Textbooks A Collection of Above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick, and Surgery · Advanced Potion-Making · Ingredient Encyclopedia · Magical Drafts and Potions · One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi
Potions studied at Hogwarts
Ageing Potion · Amortentia · Antidotes · Antidote to Common Poisons · Antidote to garish pink blended poison · Antidote to Uncommon Poisons · Antidote to Veritaserum · Babbling Beverage · 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 · Essence of Insanity · Everlasting Elixirs · Felix Felicis · Fire Protection Potion · Forgetfulness Potion · The Famous French Method for the Bite of a Mad Dog · Garish pink blended poison · Garrotting Gas · Girding Potion · Hair-Raising Potion · Herbicide Potion · Hiccoughing Solution · Invigoration Draught · Laughing Potion · Mandrake Restorative Draught · Memory Potion · Pepperup Potion · Polyjuice Potion · Pompion Potion · Potion for Dreamless Sleep · Rat Tonic · Regerminating Potion · Scintillation Solution · Shrinking Solution · Skele-Gro · Strength Potion · Strengthening Solution · Swelling Solution · Undetectable Poisons · Veritaserum · Weedosoros · Wideye Potion · Wiggenweld Potion · Wit-Sharpening Potion · Wolfsbane Potion · Wound-Cleaning Potion
Potions Club
Potions Club HBPG
Harry Potter · Hufflepuff girl · Horace Slughorn (possibly)
Antidote to Common Poisons · Cure for Boils · Dragon dung fertiliser · Draught of Living Death · Draught of Peace · Elixir to Induce Euphoria · Girding Potion · Love Potion Antidote · Oculus Potion · Polyjuice Potion · Shrinking Solution · Stamina Game · Volubilis Potion · Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes Love Potion · Wiggenweld Potion · Wit-Sharpening Potion
Last Gasp Badge · Master Potioneer Badge · Messiest Mixer Badge · Potions Beginner's Luck Badge · Potions Club Member Badge · Potions Club Star Badge · Potions Club Veteran Badge · Potions Endurance Badge · Smoky Brewer Badge · Speedy Brewer Badge
Hogwarts greenhouses