- "When travelling by Floo powder it is important that you speak clearly, take care to get out at the right grate, keep your elbows tucked in, shut your eyes, don’t fidget and don’t panic."
Floo powder was a glittery magical powder used by witches and wizards to travel by the Floo Network, which connected the fireplaces of nearly every wizarding household and building. Through the use of Floo powder, witches and wizards were able to enter a fireplace at the origin building and exit a fireplace at the destination building.
It could also be used as a means of communication, where magical persons could have their head temporarily transported to another fireplace to speak to those at the destination fireplace.
When thrown into a fire burning in a fireplace, Floo powder turned the previously normal flames into harmless, emerald green flames that rose higher than before. One had to toss a handful of powder into a fireplace connected to the Floo Network, walk into the flames, and state the desired destination loudly and clearly to ensure arrival in the proper location. This could be difficult due to the ash, heat and panic. Floo powder can only be used once; so if done incorrectly, one could end up at the wrong location, which Violet Tillyman did in 1855, and Harry Potter did in 1992.
While mid-travel, individuals were advised to keep their eyes shut (to keep the soot out of them), keep their elbows tucked in (to avoid banging them on the passing fireplaces) and refrain from fidgeting and/or panicking (to avoid coming out of the wrong fireplace).
Transportation by Floo powder was much quicker than by broomstick, but slower than Apparition. However, unlike Apparition, one did not require a licence to use Floo powder. It could also be used when one placed only their head into the flames, to partially transport themselves to another location for direct communication.
Molly Weasley kept her household stock of Floo powder in a flowerpot on her mantle.
Floo powder was invented by Ignatia Wildsmith in the thirteenth century. Its manufacture was strictly controlled. The only licenced producer in Britain was Floo-Pow, a company whose Headquarters was in Diagon Alley, and who never answered their front door.
No shortage of Floo powder was ever reported, nor did anybody know anyone who made it. Its price remained constant for one hundred years: two Sickles a scoop. Every wizard household carried a stock of Floo powder, usually conveniently located in a box or vase on the mantelpiece.
Although Floo powder's main ingredient was Floo, its precise composition was a closely guarded secret. Those who tried to ‘make their own’ were universally unsuccessful. At least once a year, St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries reported what they called a ‘Faux Floo’ injury — in other words, somebody had thrown a homemade powder onto a fire and suffered the consequences. As irate Healer and St Mungo’s spoke-swizard, Rutherford Poke, said in 2010: "It’s two Sickles a scoop, people, so stop being cheap, stop throwing powdered Runespoor fangs on the fire and stop blowing yourselves out of the chimney! If one more wizard comes in here with a burned backside, I swear I won’t treat him. It’s two Sickles a scoop!"
In the Wizarding World, Floo powder was used as a quick means of transportation. It was often used by adult wizards when travelling with underage wizards (who were not licenced to Apparate), the elderly or the infirm. It was also a more regulated means of transportation that could be used without fear of breaking the International Statute of Secrecy in special circumstances to travel to and from secure locations that were often inaccessible by Apparition, such as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Ministry of Magic, and the Muggle Prime Minister's office. Finally, there was little to no danger of serious injury, unlike Apparition.
The connection of fireplaces to the Floo Network required the permission of the Ministry of Magic, which was responsible for the regulation of the Floo service and prevented Muggle fireplaces from becoming inadvertently joined up. Disconnection from the Floo Network was much simpler, requiring only the use of a simple spell.
Floo powder was also used as means of communication, as an individual's head could be transported to the destination fireplace while the individual's body remained at the origin. It was a quicker and more interactive form of communication than owl post. It was often used in cases where an immediate face-to-face meeting was necessary, but Apparating was not practical or possible (such as to or from Hogwarts). In addition to the ability to transport only the head to the destination fireplace, it was also possible to transport other individual body parts or even just the individual's voice.
The protective enchantments that protect Hogwarts did not allow individuals to utilise Floo powder as a means of transportation to leave or enter the school, but did allow transportation within the school. Individuals were also allowed to communicate via Floo powder at Hogwarts, even to fireplaces outside of Hogwarts.
Known instances of use
- Sometime between 1990 and 1993: Cornelius Fudge: when going to the office of the Muggle Prime Minister to introduce himself and the Wizarding World.
- 1992: The Weasley family and Harry Potter: when going from the Burrow to Diagon Alley to purchase their new school things.
- 1992: The Weasley family and Harry Potter: when returning from Diagon Alley to the Burrow.
- 1993: Cornelius Fudge: when going to the office of the Muggle Prime Minister to warn him of Sirius Black's escape from Azkaban.
- 1994: Remus Lupin: when going from his own office at Hogwarts to Severus Snape's office through his fireplace after Snape summoned him to evaluate the Marauder's Map.
- 1994: Arthur, Fred, George and Ron Weasley: when going from the Burrow to collect Harry from Privet Drive and take him to the Quidditch World Cup.
- 1994: Arthur, Fred, George and Ron Weasley and Harry Potter: when returning from Privet Drive to the Burrow.
- 1994: Amos Diggory: when talking to Molly Weasley through the fireplace at the Burrow.
- 1994: Sirius Black: when speaking with Harry through the fireplace from a wizarding house to the Gryffindor Common Room.
- 1995: Sirius Black: two separate times, when speaking with Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the fireplace at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place to the Gryffindor Common Room.
- 1996: Cornelius Fudge: when going to the office of the Muggle Prime Minister to notify him of the mass breakout from Azkaban.
- 1996: Harry Potter: when speaking with Remus Lupin and Sirius Black at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place from the fireplace in Dolores Umbridge's office.
- 1996: Harry Potter: when speaking with Kreacher at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place from the fireplace in Dolores Umbridge's office.
- 1996: Albus Dumbledore: when travelling from the Ministry of Magic to the Headmaster's Office at Hogwarts, after saving Harry Potter from Voldemort.
- 1996: Cornelius Fudge and Rufus Scrimgeour: when going to the office of the Muggle Prime Minister to discuss issues related to the Second Wizarding War and to introduce him to Scrimgeour, as the new Minister for Magic.
- 1997: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Ginny Weasley: when returning to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Burrow after Christmas holidays.
Behind the scenes
- J.K. Rowling's use of "Floo" originates from the flue that you find on a chimney.
- The purpose in the creation of Floo powder and the Floo Network, according to J.K. Rowling, was to establish a way for young witches and wizards in the story to travel around in compliance with the International Statute of Secrecy, which Rowling states was an inconvenient plot element that made it difficult for her to move her young characters over long distances.
- In the novels, one must toss a handful of Floo powder onto the flames and when the fire turns green, one must speak the destination and enter the flames. However in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, one stands in the fireplace recites the destination, drops the powder and the growing green flames swallow the traveller and they reappear at the aforementioned destination.
- The appearance of Floo Powder when thrown into a fire is similar to Borax, which creates a yellow-green flame when burned.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (All versions except PC)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- Wizard of the Month
- Famous Wizard Card (Ignatia Wildsmith)
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Floo Powder" at Wizarding World
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World - Nearly every witch or wizard home is connected to the Floo Network.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts) - He took a pinch of glittering powder out of the flowerpot, stepped up to the fire, and threw the powder into the flames. With a roar, the fire turned emerald green and rose higher than Fred, who stepped right into it, shouted, “Diagon Alley!” and vanished.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 4 (Back to The Burrow) - Mr Weasley took a small drawstring bag from his pocket, untied it, took a pinch of the powder inside, and threw it onto the flames, which turned emerald green and roared higher than ever.
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World - Speaking the name of the destination loudly and clearly upon entering the Floo flames is sometimes difficult, due to ash, heat and panic.
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts) - "keep your elbows tucked in,” Ron advised. “And your eyes shut,” said Mrs Weasley. “The soot —” “Don’t fidget,” said Ron. “Or you might well fall out of the wrong fireplace —” “But don’t panic and get out too early; wait until you see Fred and George.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts) - It felt as though he was being sucked down a giant drain. He seemed to be spinning very fast — the roaring in his ears was deafening — he tried to keep his eyes open but the whirl of green flames made him feel sick —something hard knocked his elbow and he tucked it in tightly, still spinning and spinning — now it felt as though cold hands were slapping his face — squinting through his glasses he saw a blurred stream of fireplaces and snatched glimpses of the rooms beyond.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts) - Mrs Weasley: “Floo powder’s a lot quicker, dear."
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5 (The Whomping Willow) - “They don’t need the car!” said Ron impatiently. “They know how to Apparate! You know, just vanish and reappear at home! They only bother with Floo powder and the car because we’re all underage and we’re not allowed to Apparate yet…”
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World - the Floo Network, while somewhat uncomfortable, has many advantages... Thirdly, it can be used to transport children, the elderly and the infirm.
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World - the Floo Network, while somewhat uncomfortable, has many advantages. Firstly, unlike broomsticks, the Network can be used without fear of breaking the International Statute of Secrecy.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory) - Late in the afternoon, a few days after New Year, Harry, Ron, and Ginny lined up beside the kitchen fire to return to Hogwarts. The Ministry had arranged this one-off connection to the Floo Network to return students quickly and safely to the school ... Harry stepped into the emerald fire and shouted “Hogwarts!” He had one last fleeting view of the Weasleys’ kitchen and Mrs Weasley’s tearful face before the flames engulfed him; spinning very fast, he caught blurred glimpses of other Wizarding rooms, which were whipped out of sight before he could get a proper look; then he was slowing down, finally stopping squarely in the fireplace in Professor McGonagall’s office.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy) - The empty fireplace burst into emerald green flame, making Harry leap away from the door, staring at the man spinning inside the grate. As Dumbledore’s tall form unfolded itself from the fire, the wizards and witches on the surrounding walls jerked awake, many of them giving cries of welcome.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister)
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World - the Floo Network, while somewhat uncomfortable, has many advantages... Secondly, unlike Apparition, there is little to no danger of serious injury.
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World - While a fireplace may be disconnected by the use of a simple spell, connection requires the permission of the Ministry of Magic, which regulates the Floo service and prevents Muggle fireplaces becoming inadvertently joined up (although temporary connection can be arranged in emergencies).
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 11 (Aboard the Hogwarts Express) - Mr Weasley bending over the fire, talking to - Harry shut his eyes hard and opened them again to make sure that they were working properly. Amos Diggory’s head was sitting in the middle of the flames like a large, bearded egg. It was talking very fast, completely unperturbed by the sparks flying around it and the flames licking its ears.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 19 (The Hungarian Horntail) - Harry looked back into the flames, and jumped. Sirius’s head was sitting in the fire... "I’ve broken into a wizarding house to use the fire, but they could be back at any time."
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 14 (Percy and Padfoot) - There in the middle of the dancing flames sat Sirius’s head, long dark hair falling around his grinning face.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 17 (Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four) - Sirius’s untidy dark head was sitting in the fire again.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice) - He crouched down in front of the empty grate, his hands shaking. He had never done this before, though he thought he knew how it must work. Sticking his head into the fireplace, he took a large pinch of powder and dropped it on to the logs stacked neatly beneath him. They exploded at once into emerald green flames. “Number twelve, Grimmauld Place!” Harry said loudly and clearly.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 32 (Out of the Fire) - Harry dashed over to the fireplace, seized the pot of Floo powder and threw a pinch into the grate, causing emerald flames to burst into life there. He knelt down quickly, thrust his head into the dancing fire and cried, “Number twelve, Grimmauld Place!”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 17 (Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four) - Hermione gave a horrified gasp and leapt to her feet, still staring at the fire. A hand had appeared amongst the flames, groping as though to catch hold of something; a stubby, short-fingered hand covered in ugly old-fashioned rings.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge) - He strode across to his fire, seized a fistful of glittering powder from a jar on the fireplace, and threw it into the flames. “Lupin!” Snape called into the fire. “I want a word!” Utterly bewildered, Harry stared at the fire. A large shape had appeared in it, revolving very fast. Seconds later, Professor Lupin was clambering out of the fireplace, brushing ash off his shabby robes.
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Hogwarts Express" at Wizarding World - ...a more secure route into the school (for instance, permitting a fireplace that might be officially entered by Floo powder) was strongly resisted by successive Headmasters, who did not wish the security of the castle to be breached.
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World - The fireplaces of Hogwarts are not generally connected, although there have been occasions when one or more has been tampered with, often without the staff’s knowledge.
- An exact year is never given for when this initial meeting took place between this Muggle Prime Minister and Fudge. Fudge's term started in 1990 (as given in an excerpt of the Quibbler in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 10 (Luna Lovegood)) and their second meeting occurred after Sirius Black's escape from Azkaban in 1993. In their first meeting, Fudge states to the PM: "you’re taking it a lot better than your predecessor. He tried to throw me out the window." This implies that Fudge was the Minister for Magic during the inauguration of the previous Muggle Prime Minister. By this reasoning, both the initial meetings of Fudge with the Muggle Prime Ministers occur between 1990 and 1993, which would be a very quick turnaround for the Muggle PMs. This is not consistent with the terms of the Prime Ministers that were actually in office for the UK at the time, which was John Major from 1990-1997.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister) - He [Muggle Prime Minister] had been utterly terrified to find a portrait talking to him, though this had been nothing to how he felt when a self-proclaimed wizard [Cornelius Fudge] had bounced out of the fireplace and shaken his hand.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts) - Harry took a pinch of Floo powder and walked to the edge of the fire. He took a deep breath, scattered the powder into the flames, and stepped forward; the fire felt like a warm breeze; he opened his mouth and immediately swallowed a lot of hot ash. “D-Dia-gon Alley,” he coughed.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts) - But it was a subdued group that headed back to the fireside in the Leaky Cauldron, where Harry, the Weasleys, and all their shopping would be travelling back to the Burrow using Floo powder.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister) - the Prime Minister had been alone in his office when the portrait had once again announced the imminent arrival of Fudge, who had burst out of the fireplace, sopping wet and in a state of considerable panic. Before the Prime Minister could ask why he was dripping all over the Axminster, Fudge had started ranting about a prison the Prime Minister had never heard of, a man named “Serious” Black, something that sounded like “Hogwarts,” and a boy called Harry Potter, none of which made the remotest sense to the Prime Minister. “... I’ve just come from Azkaban,” Fudge had panted, tipping a large amount of water out of the rim of his bowler hat into his pocket. “Middle of the North Sea, you know, nasty flight… the dementors are in uproar”
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge), it is not explicitly stated that Lupin is travelling from his own office in Hogwarts when he comes to Snape's office, but it is a safe assumption, considering Snape summoned him via fireplace and knew exactly where to find him.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 4 (Back to The Burrow)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 4 (Back to The Burrow) - “Mr Weasley, it’s Harry… the fireplace has been blocked up. You won’t be able to get through there.” ... “I’m trying to think what to do… Yes… only way… Stand back, Harry.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 11 (Aboard the Hogwarts Express) - “Never mind, Amos,” said Mrs Weasley. “Sure you won’t have a bit of toast or anything before you go?” “Oh go on, then,” said Mr Diggory. Mrs Weasley took a piece of buttered toast from a stack on the kitchen table, put it into the fire tongs, and transferred it into Mr Diggory’s mouth. “Fanks,” he said in a muffled voice, and then, with a small pop, vanished.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister) - Fudge had erupted out of the fire yet again, this time with the news that there had been a mass breakout from Azkaban. “A mass breakout?” repeated the Prime Minister hoarsely. “No need to worry, no need to worry!” shouted Fudge, already with one foot in the flames. “We’ll have them rounded up in no time — just thought you ought to know!” And before the Prime Minister could shout, “Now, wait just one moment!” Fudge had vanished in a shower of green sparks.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 32 (Out of the Fire) - Harry felt a great pain at the top of his head; he inhaled a lot of ash and, choking, found himself being dragged backwards through the flames, until with a horrible abruptness he was staring up into the wide, pallid face of Professor Umbridge who had dragged him backwards out of the fire by the hair"
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World - ‘Floo’ came from the flue that you find on a chimney and don’t ask me to tell you exactly what a flue is, because I don’t know. I just know it exists, but I’m not sure what it does exactly.
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Floo Network" at Wizarding World - I needed a way for particularly young witches and wizards to travel around because I’d created the International Statute of Secrecy, which was inconvenient, so immediately that made it quite difficult for them to move around, particularly over long distances, by magical means. So I thought they need something very discreet, and that’s how the Floo Network came about, so it was a way of moving from house to house without ever being seen by Muggles. But it was fun and comical to have it a little bit difficult to use, so that you could easily make a mistake in where you ended up.