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"I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses.... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death"
— Professor Severus Snape on the nature of brewing potions[src]

A potion (Latin potio, 'beverage') was a magical mixture,[3] commonly brewed in a cauldron[15] which was used to create a number of magical effects on the drinker.[3][1] Potions ranged in effects, nature, and brewing difficulty.[3]

An example of a beginners potion was the Cure for Boils, which was the first potion learned at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.[1][16] An incredibly advanced and challenging one was the Polyjuice Potion, that even adult witches and wizards had trouble with.[17][18][19]

A wizard or witch who specialised in potion brewing was known as a potioneer[20] or a Potions Master.[1] Potion-making was also the wizarding equivalent of Muggle chemistry.[3]


"Potions are not for the impatient, but their effects are usually difficult to undo by any but another skilled potioneer. This branch of magic carries a certain mystique and therefore status."
— The nature of potion-making[src]
Potion ingredients

Various potions and potion ingredients

According to former Hogwarts Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape, potions could be used for numerous different magical purposes.[1] Potions were able to give the drinker any one of a number of different magical effect, from strength enhancement[21] to immunity to flames.[22] They could also be used as poisons,[22] or as antidotes or medicines.[23][2] Additionally, their effects were usually difficult to undo by any but another skilled potioneer.[3] This branch of magic carried a certain mystique and therefore status. There was also the dark cachet of handling substances that were highly dangerous. The popular idea of a potions expert within the wizarding community was of a brooding, slow-burning personality.[3]

Some potions duplicated the effects of spells and charms, such as the Babbling Beverage and the Babbling Curse both causing the victim to talk nonsensically, or the Hair-Dyeing Potion and the Colour Change Charm both being able to change a persons hair colour. However, there were also certain magical effects that could only be induced through the use of potions. For instance, the Wolfsbane Potion, which allowed a werewolf to retain their normal state of mind during their monthly transformation, and Felix Felicis, which temporarily made the drinker lucky and allowed them to succeed in all their endeavors, had effects that were impossible to achieve any other way.[3][18][20] Generally speaking, witches and wizards favoured whichever method they found easiest, or most satisfying, to produce their chosen end.[3] Potions were usually meant to be drunk, but not all potions were used by drinking them, as some could be applied by physical contact or create an effect simply by being created, such as the Swelling Solution or the Regeneration potion.[24]

Potions were capable of incredible feats; for example, in the 1992–1993 school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a number of students were petrified by the Serpent of Slytherin. Albus Dumbledore, who was considered the most powerful wizard of the age, was unable to revive the victims, even with the Elder Wand in hand. However, the petrified victims were easily revived by a Mandrake Restorative Draught. Notably, even Nearly Headless Nick, a ghost, was revived by the Mandrake potion. Although the method by which it was administered is unknown.[25]

PotionsClassroom lab

A potions lab in the Potions Classroom, containing various ingredients and equipment

Potions were brewed through manual step-by-step processes not unlike the culinary, thus requiring the necessary utensils, hands-on skills and, of course, some knowledge of the potion recipe or formula.[3][1] They were made from all sorts of ingredients, such as plants and animal body parts, some with magical properties, others not. It should also be noted that some recipes called for the stirring to be done a certain number of times and in a certain direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise), and some ingredients had to be harvested in certain ways or at certain times. Additionally, the ingredients had to be added with the cauldron at the correct temperature (with the cauldron on the fire or off it).[1]

Once finished, a potion could be identified by its characteristics, including (but not limited to) its colour, smell, and the way the steam coming from it behaved. For example, the Love potion Amortentia had a Mother-of-pearl sheen, smelled like whatever the person smelling it was attracted to, and produced steam in a spiral.[20]

Potions had a distinct advantage over typical spells in that they could be used even by the non-magical. Although, contrary to the introductory speech Professor Snape gave to his first years in 1991, potion brewing always required some degree of wand work to complete the brewing process.[3][1] Hence, non-magic people could not brew them even if given the ingredients and instructions, as it would only result in nasty-tasting (and not to mention poisonous) soup with no magical effect whatsoever.[3] Still, provided that they had the pre-made potion itself at their disposal, non-magic people could still use it just as easily as any witch or wizard.


The first and foremost weakness of the art of Potion making was the difficulty of the art itself. Some potions, like the Cure for Boils could easily be brewed by children, but others, like Polyjuice Potion were extraordinarily advanced and even some adult wizards had trouble brewing it. Additionally, very few students were able to make it into the N.E.W.T.-level class in 1996, even after Professor Slughorn relaxed the entry requirement. Most of those who did get into the class badly struggled with their coursework, even the prodigious Hermione Granger who had previously proven herself to be rather talented with potions.

Furthermore, potion making was an exact art and everything had to done the right way. Doing something wrong could result in the whole potion going wrong. Although, in some cases, a Potioneer might discover an alternate method of preparation that can actually make the potion better, as was the case for numerous potions in the Half-Blood Prince's book.[20] A Potioneer might have also used a Counter-ingredient, which counteracted the effects of an incorrect ingredient.[26] Still, figuring out these workarounds required a great deal of skill.

One of the biggest limitations was that potion making required one to prepare. As opposed to spells, which could be done on the spot and required only the wizards own magical abilities, and maybe a wand, a Potioneer could not make a potion without all the necessary ingredients and equipment.

Furthermore, a witch or wizard had to be in possession of the potion itself in order to use it. Even if a witch or wizard were to lose their wand, their magic would still be a part of them and they would still be able to cast spells, provided they had learned how to use wandless magic. If they lost the bottle containing the potion, then they would be totally unable to utilize the potion.

Another limitation was how long it took to make a potion, it was not an art for the impatient. Some potions could be brewed in a matter of minutes, while others could take several months. By contrast, the effects of spellcasting could be achieved instantaneously at any time. That being said, there were certain factors that could reduce the brewing time; cauldron's made of pewter, brass and copper respectively brewed potions at slow, medium and fast speeds. Though cauldrons of faster speed were not meant for beginners. The ingredients may have also played a part; Unicorn hair that had been rinsed under a waterfall from a pure spring was more effective when used in potions, helping to reduce some potions' brewing time.[8]

Potions also didn't usually last forever. In the case of some potions, the duration of its effects depended on how expertly it was made, Polyjuice Potion for example lasted anywhere from ten minutes to twelve hours.[27] Other potions, such as Felix Felicis, had a time limit that depended on how much of the potion the drinker ingested. The more that was drunk, the longer its effect would last. Finally, some potions had a set time limit regardless of anything else. Although, external circumstances may have played a part as well. Love potion usually lasted 24 hours, but the weight of the drinker and the attractiveness of the person they fell in love with could have altered how long the potion would last.[28] Of course, the most obvious solution to this limitation was to administer additional doses of the potion continually over time.

Finally, while potions were capable of powerful and incredibly magical effects, there were some things that were totally impossible, even with the most powerful of magic. There was no such thing as magic that could bring the dead back to life. Also, love could not be recreated artificially; there was a great variety of different Love potions, but they only created feelings of infatuation or obsession, rather than genuine affection.


"A potion and a poison may be a mere breath apart - until you consume the wrong one."
— Professor Aesop Sharp[src]

Potions had to be brewed carefully to achieve the proper effects.[3] In certain cases, those that were brewed incorrectly or in a dirty cauldron could become poisons.[29][30] In other cases, even potions that had been brewed correctly may have had deleterious side-effects, even if their intended effect is beneficial; for example, Felix Felicis caused recklessness and overconfidence when not used sparingly.[20][14]

Notably, some potion recipes could have been modified to reduce these side-effects; for example, the Elixir to Induce Euphoria might have caused excessive singing and nose-tweaking, but these effects could have been counterbalanced by adding a sprig of peppermint to the potion while brewing. This was considered unorthodox, but a stroke of inspiration all the same.[31]

The final product aside, one had to be careful while they were making the potion, one misstep could have had disastrous results. For example, while trying to make a Cure for Boils, Neville Longbottom made the mistake of adding the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire, which caused the potion to melt through the cauldron and seep across the floor, burning holes in people's shoes. Additionally, the classroom was filled with acrid green smoke and Neville himself had to be taken to the Hospital Wing, as his face was covered in nasty boils.[1]

Some potions had a "date of safe usage", and after said day had past, it was no longer safe for someone to take the potion in question. For example, Love potion matured and became stronger over time. Professor Horace Slughorn, a well studied and highly experienced potion expert, believed that the feelings of infatuation and obsession created by Love potion were rather dangerous in the first place.


Naturally, every potion had to have been invented by someone. Gregory the Smarmy invented Gregory's Unctuous Unction, the One-Eyed Witch, Gunhilda de Gorsemoor invented the cure for Dragon Pox, and Zygmunt Budge invented a multitude of different potions during his time living in seclusion, Felix Felicis chief among them.

In some cases, a Potioneer might have developed an entirely new version of an already existing potion. Zygmunt Budge for instance developed his own recipe for the Beautification Potion. His artificial good-looks attracted the attention of Muggle women, who started to circle his island home, calling for him to "give us a kiss, handsome!". Though, Budge's version had the limitation of only working on humans, or creatures of human-like appearance.[32]

Toads were particularly useful to Potioneers, as the fact that they absorbed liquids through their skin allowed for easy testing of potions that were normally required to be ingested orally.[14]

Teaching and labeling[]

"As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic."
— Professor Snape in Potions class[src]

A first-year Potions lesson

There was a Potions class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, devoted to the study of potion recipes, practising the correct way to brew potions using various magical ingredients, and the effect's of the resulting mixtures.[1] This class started with simple and easy ones first,[1] then moved on to more advanced ones as they progressed in knowledge.[20]

Slughorn pottermore

An advanced N.E.W.T.-level Potions lesson

It was a core class and mandatory throughout the first five years of a students education.[1][33] It was optional to N.E.W.T.-level students in their sixth and seventh-years to those who achieved an 'Outstanding' or 'Exceeds Expectations' on their Ordinary Wizarding Level exam.[34][20] Anyone who achieved anything less would not be able to keep up with the more difficult material and more advanced course work. Potions was also noted to be a hard subject to achieve an O.W.L. in, as proven when only twelve students advanced to N.E.W.T.-level class in 1996.[20]

According to Professor Aesop Sharp, Herbology class was just as important to the learning of Potions as Potions class itself. It was good to have a solid grasp on not only how to combine ingredients, but to have an understanding of the ingredients themselves. The plants nurtured in Herbology class were often essential in Potions.[35]

There existed a Potions Association that oversaw the labelling of certain potions, and possibly other aspects of the field. The association was directly associated with the Ministry of Magic.[36][37]




Related jobs[]


A potioneer brewing potions

A potioneer, also known as a potion-brewer or potion-maker, was a witch or wizard who made potions for a living,[20] meaning that their primary source of income came from making potions or in someway related to potions in general. This could include working as a professional brewer, studying or inventing potions, or teaching potions as a subject at a wizarding school.[1] A N.E.W.T. in Potions was one of the necessary qualifications required to become a Healer and an Auror.[41]

A person who taught Potions was sometimes known as a Potions Master,[1] one who had achieved a N.E.W.T. in the subject.

Severus Snape was the Potions Master at Hogwarts from 1980 to the fall of 1996.[1][42] Horace Slughorn, who had taught Potions many years before, took over as Potions Master in 1996.[43] Other known Potions professors were Swoopstikes and Vindictus Viridian. Swoopstikes was an entomologist, with a vast knowledge of magical insects and Viridian was a former Headmaster at Hogwarts and author.[44]

Known potioneers[]

Texts on potions[]

Potion-related businesses[]

An advertisement could be seen in The Quibbler about a potion-making business or potioneer called Ancient Potion Maker.[57]

In 1996, a business called Potions Lady that specialised in making potions for women placed an advertisement in The Quibbler.[57]

The Apothecary[]

"Then they visited the apothecary, which was fascinating enough to make up for its horrible smell, a mixture of bad eggs and rotted cabbages. Barrels of slimy stuff stood on the floor; jars of herbs, dried roots, and bright powders lined the walls; bundles of feathers, strings of fangs, and snarled claws hung from the ceiling. While Hagrid asked the man behind the counter for a supply of some basic potion ingredients for Harry, Harry himself examined silver unicorn horns at twenty-one Galleons each and minuscule, glittery-black beetle eyes (five Knuts a scoop)."
— Description of the Apothecary[src]

The Apothecary was a shop located at North Side, Diagon Alley. This shop was devoted to potions and potion-making. It was a shop favored by many Hogwarts' students. Penny Haywood obtained a job as a Potioneer at the Apothecary after she graduated from Hogwarts. She would brew potions and gather ingredients every day. The famous Harry Potter made several trips to the Apothecary during his time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This shop was were he would buy his cauldron and ingredients.

Slug & Jiggers Apothecary[]

Slug & Jiggers Apothecary was a shop in Diagon Alley, established in 1207,[58] which sold potions and potion ingredients.

Behind the scenes[]

  • As brewing potions only requires minimal wand magic, Snape's warning against "foolish wand-waving or silly incantations", likely means that he expects the students to limit themselves to the task at hand and not attempt any other spells in class.
  • In the Harry Potter films, for scenes which required actors to be seen consuming potions, soup was typically used as the stand-in, with carrot and coriander being some of the flavours preferred by the actors.[59]

Author's comments[]

  • It is often asked whether a Muggle could create a magic potion, given a Potions book and the right ingredients. The answer, unfortunately, is no. There is always some element of wandwork necessary to make a potion (merely adding dead flies and asphodel to a pot hanging over a fire will give you nothing but nasty-tasting, not to mention poisonous, soup).[3]
  • "Chemistry was my least favourite subject at school, and I gave it up as soon as I could. Naturally, when I was trying to decide which subject Harry's arch-enemy, Severus Snape, should teach, it had to be the wizarding equivalent. This makes it all the stranger that I found Snape's introduction to his subject quite compelling ('I can teach you to bottle fame, brew glory, even put a stopper on death...'), apparently part of me found Potions quite as interesting as Snape did; and indeed I always enjoyed creating potions in the books, and researching ingredients for them. Many of the components of the various draughts and libations that Harry creates for Snape exist (or were once believed to exist) and have (or were believed to have) the properties I gave them. Dittany, for instance, really does have healing properties (it is an anti-inflammatory, although I would not advise Splinching yourself to test it); a bezoar really is a mass taken from the intestines of an animal, and it really was once believed that drinking water in which a bezoar was placed could cure you of poisoning."[3]


The Harry Potter Wiki has 984 images related to Potion.

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18 (Birthday Surprises)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Potions" at Wizarding World
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 4.37 4.38 4.39 4.40 4.41 4.42 4.43 4.44 4.45 4.46 4.47 Pottermore - Apothecary
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 15 (The Forbidden Forest)
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Pottermore (archived)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
  9. 9.0 9.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 23 (The Legend of Dai Ryusaki and the Dark Scroll)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 J. K. Rowling's official site
  11. 11.0 11.1 Daily Prophet Newsletters, Issue 4
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 12 (And Hello Magical Accidents and Catastrophes)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Wonderbook: Book of Potions
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Cauldrons" at Wizarding World
  16. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 1, Chapter 2 (Welcome to Hogwarts) - Potions Lesson "Cure for Boils Potion"
  17. 17.0 17.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 10 (The Rogue Bludger)
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 12 (The Polyjuice Potion)
  19. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Polyjuice Potion" at Wizarding World
  20. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
  21. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 15 (The Hogwarts High Inquisitor)
  22. 22.0 22.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 16 (Through the Trapdoor)
  23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  24. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
  25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  26. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act One, Scene Four
  27. Pottermore - New from J. K. Rowling - Chapter 12, Moment 2 - Polyjuice Potion
  28. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 6 (Draco's Detour)
  29. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 7 (The Boggart in the Wardrobe)
  30. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 22 (St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries)
  31. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 22 (After the Burial)
  32. Wonderbook: Book of Potions - Chapter 4 (Beautification Potion)
  33. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Hogwarts School Subjects" at Wizarding World
  34. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Hogwarts Legacy
  36. Harry Potter Wizard's CollectionLabel Collection book (see this image)
  37. MinaLima Design - Potion Labels - The Printorium (see this image)
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 38.4 38.5 38.6 38.7 38.8 38.9 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  39. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 27 (Padfoot Returns)
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
  41. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
  42. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 8 (Snape Victorious)
  43. 43.0 43.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn)
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 44.3 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  45. Harry Potter: Magic Awakened, The Mysterious Malady
  46. 46.0 46.1 Fantastic Beasts: Cases from the Wizarding World, Case 5: Trouble Brewing
  47. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 7 (The Slug Club)
  48. The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy
  49. 49.0 49.1 Writing by J. K. Rowling: "The Potter Family" at Wizarding World
  50. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
  51. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 13 (Nicolas Flamel)
  52. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
  53. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Four, Scene Fourteen
  54. Harry Potter Trading Card Game
  55. Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey, p. 504 (see this image)
  56. Wonderbook: Book of Potions (see this video)
  57. 57.0 57.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
  58. The Making of Harry Potter
  59. Harry Potter: The Artifact Vault‏‎, p. 28

See also[]

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