- "I don't expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making... I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death."
- —Professor Severus Snape on the nature of brewing potions[src]
Potions (Latin potio, 'beverage') are magical mixtures commonly brewed in cauldrons and used to create a number of magical effects on the drinker. Potions range in effects, nature, and brewing difficulty. An example of a beginners potion is the Cure for Boils, which is the first potion learned at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredibly advanced and challenging one is the Polyjuice Potion, that even adult Witches and Wizards have trouble with.
- "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]
Potions are brewed from ingredients with magical properties. Potions can be used as: medicines, antidotes, solutions, poisons, or give the drinker any magical effect from strength enhancement to immunity to flames. Potions are not necessarily used by drinking, as some can be applied by physical contact or create an effect simply by being created, such as the Regeneration Potion. According to former Hogwarts Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape, potions can "bewitch the mind, ensnare the senses, and even put a stopper in death."
Potions have a distinct advantage over typical spells in that they could be used even by the non-Magical, provided that they have the potion itself at their disposal. There are also certain magical effects that can only be induced through the use of potions. Some potions duplicate the effects of spells and charms, but a few (for instance, the Polyjuice Potion, and Felix Felicis) have effects impossible to achieve any other way. Generally speaking, witches and wizards favour whichever method they find easiest, or most satisfying, to produce their chosen end.
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. There is also the dark cachet of handling substances that are highly dangerous. The popular idea of a potions expert within the wizarding community is of a brooding, slow-burning personality.
Potion brewing always require some degree of wand work to complete the brewing process, contrary to the introductory speech Professor Snape gave to his first years. Hence, non-magic people cannot brew them even if given the ingredients and instructions, as it would only result in nasty-tasting (and possibly poisonous) soup with no magical effect whatsoever.
Potions must be brewed carefully to achieve the proper effects. In certain cases, those that are brewed incorrectly or in a dirty cauldron can become poisons. In other cases, even potions that have been brewed correctly may in some cases have deleterious effects, even if their intended effect is beneficial; for example, Felix Felicis causes recklessness and overconfidence when used more than sparingly, while the Elixir to Induce Euphoria has side-effects such as excessive singing and nose-tweaking, though these can be countered by adding peppermint.
Teaching and labeling
- "There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class."
- —Professor Snape on Potions class[src]
There is a Potions class, devoted to the study of potion recipes and effects, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is a core class and is mandatory throughout the first five years of a students education. It is optional to students in their sixth and seventh years to those who achieve a high score on their Ordinary Wizarding Level exam.
In this class, students learn the correct way to brew potions, following specific recipes and using various magical ingredients to create the potions, starting with simple ones first and moving to more advanced ones as they progress in knowledge.
To enter into the N.E.W.T. class a Hogwarts student must achieve either an 'Outstanding' or 'Exceeds Expectations' on their O.W.L. exam. Anyone who achieves anything less would not be able to keep up with the advanced course work nor the increase of housework. Potions is 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 in 1996.
A potioneer, also known as a potion-brewer or potion-maker, is a witch or wizard who makes potions for a living. Meaning that their primary source of income comes 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. A N.E.W.T. in Potions is one of the necessary qualifications required to become a Healer and an Auror.
A person who teaches potions is sometimes known as a potions master, one who has achieved a N.E.W.T. in the subject.
Severus Snape was the Potions Master at Hogwarts from 1980 to the fall of 1996. Horace Slughorn, who had taught Potions many years before, took over as Potions Master in 1996. Other known potions professors are 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.
- Arsenius Jigger
- Damocles Belby
- Erica Stainwright
- Fleamont Potter
- Gethsemane Prickle
- Gilderoy Lockhart
- Glover Hipworth
- Gregory the Smarmy
- Gunhilda de Gorsemoor
- Hector Dagworth-Granger
- Hesper Starkey
- Horace Slughorn
- J. Pippin
- Laverne de Montmorency
- Linfred of Stinchcombe
- Nicolas Flamel
- Regulus Moonshine
- Rubens Winikus
- Sacharissa Tugwood
- Severus Snape
- Tilden Toots
- Dr Ubbly
- Vindictus Viridian
- Zygmunt Budge
Texts on potions
Behind the scenes
- An advertisement can be seen in The Quibbler about potion-making called Ancient Potion Maker.
- In 1996, a business called Potions Lady that specialised in making potions for women placed an advertisement in the Daily Prophet.
- 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).
- "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."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- 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 Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- Fantastic Beasts: Cases from the Wizarding World
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Mentioned only)
- Quidditch Through the Ages (Mentioned only)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Wonderbook: Book of Potions
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 7 (The Boggart in the Wardrobe)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 22 (St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 22 (After the Burial)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)