Potions in Harry Potter

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Potions is one of the curriculum subjects at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series,[1] and various potions play an important role in its universe.[2] Throughout the series, they are mentioned in potions class at Hogwarts, taught by Severus Snape in books one to five and Horace Slughorn in books six and seven.

The author, J. K. Rowling, based her potion ingredients on many that do exist, or ingredients that were believed to exist. She explains that she wrote Snape, Harry's arch enemy on Hogwarts faculty, because she herself hated chemistry class, and this was the Hogwarts equivalent.[3]


Amortentia is a love potion[4] that does not create actual love, but gives the drinker a powerful obsession and infatuation with the giver of the potion. It is usually either forced upon someone or covertly given. As a rule of thumb the longer a love potion awaits consumption, the stronger the effects will be, as seen in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Ron Weasley mistakenly eats a box of Chocolate Cauldrons spiked with the intense love potion intended for Harry previously bought from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes by Romilda Vane. The potion's aroma is unique to each person who consumes it, as it smells like whatever attracts each individual, e.g. in the films Hermione Granger says that she smells freshly cut grass, a piece of fresh parchment, and spearmint toothpaste. In the books, she does not say spearmint toothpaste as the third aroma but instead blushes. Rowling later identified the smell as Ron's hair.[5] It can also be identified by its characteristic spirals of steam and its mother-of-pearl sheen, as noted by Hermione. Unless constantly administered, its effects wear off eventually.

Confusing Concoction[edit]

A Confusing Concoction causes the drinker to become confused, distracted[6] and sick. During potions in his third year in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry has to brew this potion but cannot manage to thicken it. Harry sees Severus Snape scribble something on a clipboard that "looks suspiciously like a zero."

Draught of Living Death[edit]

When a person drinks the Draught of Living Death, they go into a deep sleep so strong that they appear to be dead,[4][7] hence the name. It is made from powdered root of asphodel which is added to an infusion of wormwood, and was first mentioned in Harry's first potions lesson with Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It is later mentioned in his first Potions lesson with Horace Slughorn when Harry receives top marks in Horace Slughorn's first Potions class for brewing this potion so well, having used the handwritten advice in the Half-Blood Prince's book. He is awarded a small bottle of the potion Felix Felicis as a prize for the accomplishment. This potion is described as changing in colour during the process of being made. It has a texture and consistency akin to that of clear water. To examine the potion's potency, a fresh leaf is dropped into the completed mixture – the leaf shrivels to ash if it has been brewed correctly.

Draught of Peace[edit]

The Draught of Peace provides personal comfort,[4] calms anxiety and soothes agitation. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Snape sets the potion as one of his lessons. It is a very difficult potion to make as the ingredients have to be added in a very specific order, the mixture has to be stirred exactly the right number of times, and the heat of the flames on which it is simmering has to be lowered to exactly the right level for the right number of minutes before the final ingredient is added. Hannah Abbott had to take this potion in Order of the Phoenix to reduce her anxiety over the upcoming Ordinary Wizarding Levels (O.W.Ls).

Felix Felicis/Liquid Luck[edit]

Felix Felicis, more commonly known as Liquid Luck, grants whoever drinks it unusually good luck.[4] The time span of this luck depends on the amount imbibed. Liquid Luck is one of the hardest potions to make, as noted by Horace Slughorn; "It has to be cooked for 6 months on an extremely complicated formula, and if you make a tiniest mistake, the consequences are severe". Because of its properties, it is banned in all sporting events, competitions and examinations. In Rowling's original narrative, the potion looks akin to liquid gold. However, in the movie adaptation it is clear and water-like. Slughorn also noted that excessive consumption results in side effects that include giddiness and overzealousness, among other effects that are related to overconfidence. In Half-Blood Prince, Harry pretends to give some to Ron so that he will do well at Quidditch. Ron's luck turns for the better, with the confidence working as a placebo. Harry does use most of it later in the same novel in order to extract the true memory about Tom Riddle and Horcruxes from Slughorn (though it also has the pleasant side effect of causing Dean Thomas and Ginny Weasley to end their relationship), and the rest is shared between Ron, Hermione, Neville Longbottom and Ginny the night Death Eaters break into Hogwarts.

Pepperup Potion[edit]

A Pepperup Potion is designed to improve health,[4] relieve coughs and colds, though it does have one major side effect: it causes steam to dribble from the patient's ears for several hours afterward. It is also used to quickly elevate body temperature, as shown after the second task in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and mentioned in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Polyjuice Potion[edit]

The Polyjuice Potion allows the drinker to assume the appearance of someone else[8] for an hour or more depending on the quantity. The potion only causes a physical and voice transformation of the drinker, but clothing is not affected. Its ingredients include fluxweed, knotgrass, lacewing flies, leeches, powdered Bicorn horn, and shredded Boomslang skin. The final component is a bit of the individual to be impersonated; strands of hair are most often used for this purpose.

Its taste and appearance depends on the person's good character that is being impersonated (for example, the potion becomes golden for Harry but grey and clumpy for Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, and as for Harry, the potion is delicious, but when Harry and Ron drink to impersonate Crabbe and Goyle, Goyle's tasted like overcooked cabbage). It is first used in Chamber of Secrets to allow Harry and Ron to transform into Crabbe and Goyle so that they can question Draco Malfoy about the Heir of Slytherin. The potion is fairly complicated to make, as it needs a month to be brewed.

In Goblet of Fire, Barty Crouch, Jr. uses it to disguise himself as Mad-Eye Moody all year long, keeping a flask of the potion on him at all times.

In Half-Blood Prince, Crabbe and Goyle use the potion multiple times to disguise themselves as young girls while guarding the Room of Requirement.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it is first used to transform members of the Order into Harry look-alikes, creating decoys for Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Fleur Delacour, Hermione, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Ron, and Mundungus Fletcher serve as the doppelgangers. Later, Harry uses some hair from a local Muggle boy in Ottery St. Catchpole to disguise himself at Bill Weasley and Fleur's wedding as a fictitious Weasley relative named "Barny Weasley." Harry, Ron, and Hermione use it to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic by disguising themselves as Ministry officials: Harry poses as Albert Runcorn, an investigator of Muggle-borns; Ron poses as Reginald Cattermole, a worker at the Magical Maintenance Department whose wife is being put on trial by Dolores Umbridge; and Hermione poses as Mafalda Hopkirk, Umbridge's secretary. While visiting Godric's Hollow, Harry and Hermione disguise themselves as a middle-aged Muggle couple; it is last seen when Hermione disguises herself as Bellatrix Lestrange to break into her vault at Gringotts (However, the potion wears off due to the magic waterfall known as the "Thief's Downfall" in Gringotts that washes every spell or potion that is active, as well as Hermione's disguise).

Polyjuice Potion only works correctly when done on human-to-human transfiguration, as Hermione discovers in Chamber of Secrets when she inadvertently takes a dose containing cat hair, giving her the furry face and tail of a cat. Such a transformation is always incomplete and occasionally irreversible.

In the books, the potion changes the drinker's voice to match that of the target, as well as any disabilities such as poor eyesight or amputations. The films contradict this point, probably for the sake of character clarity: Harry and Ron retain their own voices after using the potion in Chamber of Secrets; the same is true in Deathly Hallows – Part 1 during the scene of the seven Potters and while infiltrating the Ministry.


Skele-Gro is a medicinal potion that can regrow missing or removed bones,[9] though it tastes terrible and the process is very slow and extremely painful. In Chamber of Secrets, a bewitched Bludger breaks Harry's arm while he plays Quidditch, and Gilderoy Lockhart, the incompetent Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, accidentally removes his bones instead of mending them. As a result, Harry takes a dose of the potion and spends the night in the hospital wing.

In Deathly Hallows, the goblin Griphook's legs are broken in the escape from Malfoy Manor. Luna Lovegood uses Skele-Gro to repair them.

Sleekeazy's Hair Potion[edit]

Sleekeazy's Hair Potion is a beauty treatment used by witches to smooth and straighten hair.[10] Hermione uses it during the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire before meeting Viktor Krum. This is part of her three-hour beauty regimen to prepare for the ball; although it is very effective, Hermione later confesses to Harry that using the potion is "way too much bother" for daily use. According to Pottermore, the potion was created by Harry's grandfather, Fleamont Potter.[11]


Veritaserum is a very powerful truth potion.[12][13] The name "Veritaserum" derives from the Latin word Veritas, meaning truth. Three drops of this potion are all that is needed to force anyone to respond to any question with the truth. It is first used on Barty Crouch Jr. in Goblet of Fire; in Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge demands the potion to use it while interrogating Harry about who he contacted, but is thwarted by Snape who claims he has none left having given her an entire bottle earlier in the book (although that bottle was a placebo). In the film version of Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge forces Cho to drink Veritaserum to expose Dumbledore's army. Instead of using Veritaserum, Umbridge threatens Harry with the Cruciatus Curse to divulge who he contacted in the Floo Network. In Half-Blood Prince, Harry considers using the potion to get Slughorn to reveal his memories about Voldemort, but thinks better of it; and in Deathly Hallows Rita Skeeter uses the potion to extract the story of Dumbledore's childhood from Bathilda Bagshot. Rowling has revealed on her fansite that Veritaserum can be fooled using Occlumency and is hence not usually accepted in general practice in wizard courts.

Wiggenweld Potion[edit]

The Wiggenweld Potion is a powerful healing potion that can be used to heal injuries, or to reverse effects of a Sleeping Draught.

See also[edit]

  • Magic in Harry Potter

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  1. Whited, Lana A. (2002). The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon. University of Missouri Press. pp. 74, 182. ISBN 0-8262-1443-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. Kellner, Roman; Gräf, Elisabeth (2011). "BONUS II: Zaubertränke und Wirkstoffe". Ziele und Zaubersprüche: Von Harry Potter und seiner Welt lernen. epubli. ISBN 978-3-8442-0655-5. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. Rowling, J K. "Potions". Wizarding World. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Spencer, R.A. (2015). Harry Potter and the Classical World: Greek and Roman Allusions in J.K. Rowling's Modern Epic. McFarland. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-4766-2141-8. Retrieved June 18, 2016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. "J.K. Rowling and the Live Chat". Bloomsbury. 30 July 2007. Retrieved 21 September 2020 – via Accio Quote.
  6. Stouffer, T. 2007, pp. 152–153
  7. Boyle, F. (2004). A Muggle's Guide to the Wizarding World: Exploring the Harry Potter Universe. ECW Press. pp. 192–195. ISBN 978-1-55022-655-3. Retrieved June 18, 2016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png (subscription required)
  8. Highfield, R. (2003). The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works. Penguin. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-14-200355-8. Retrieved June 19, 2016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  9. Stouffer, T. 2007, pp. 159–160
  10. Stouffer, T. 2007, p. 160
  11. Rowling, J. K. "The Potter Family". Pottermore. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  12. Fowler, C. (2014). The Ravenclaw Chronicles: Reflections from Edinboro. Cambridge Scholars Publisher. pp. 74–77. ISBN 978-1-4438-6598-2. Retrieved 2016-06-18. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  13. Neal, C.W. (2002). The Gospel According to Harry Potter: Spirituality in the Stories of the World's Most Famous Seeker. Gospel According to Series. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-664-22601-5. Retrieved June 18, 2016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png


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