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"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[src]

Potions (Latin potio, 'beverage') are magical mixtures commonly brewed in cauldrons and used to create a number of 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.

A wizard or witch who specialises in potion brewing is known as a potioneer or a potions master. Potion-making is also the wizarding equivalent of Muggle chemistry.[1]

Nature

"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

Potion ingredients

Potions are brewed from ingredients with magical properties. Potions can be used as: medicine, antidote, solution, lethal poison, or give the drinker any supportive 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."

PotionsClassroom lab

A potions lab, containing various ingredients and equipment

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.[2] Generally speaking, witches and wizards favour whichever method they find easiest, or most satisfying, to produce their chosen end.[3]

Potions are not for the impatient, but their effects are usually difficult to undo by any but another skilled potioneer.[4] 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.[5]

Dangers

Potions must be brewed carefully to achieve the proper effects. In certain cases, those are brewed incorrectly or in a dirty cauldron can become poisons.[6][7] 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,[8] while the Elixir to Induce Euphoria has side-effects such as excessive singing and nose-tweaking, though these can be countered by adding peppermint.[9]

Teaching and labeling

"There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class."
—Professor Snape on Potions class[src]
Potions

A potions classroom

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.

Slughorn pottermore

Advanced N.E.W.T. class

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 most 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 12 students advanced to N.E.W.T.-level in 1996.

There exists a Potions Association that oversees the labelling of certain potions, and possibly other aspects.The association was directly associated with the Ministry of Magic.

Supplies

Equipment
Ingredients

Jobs related to potion-making

Potioneer

A potioneer

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.

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.

Known potioneers:

Texts on potions

Behind the scenes

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).[10]
  • "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."[11]

Appearances

Wiki
The Harry Potter Wiki has 308 images related to Potion.

See also

Notes and references