Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Potions in Harry Potter
At Hogwarts, students advance their magical skills in a variety of areas, whether learning dueling techniques in Defense Against the Dark Arts, transforming themselves and objects in Transfiguration, or developing flying prowess with Quidditch practice.
Yet an often-underrated subject is Potions, a magical field that teaches wizards and witches to brew several wondrous concoctions ranging from mystical to deadly. Although Professor Snape is a strict teacher to non-Slytherin students, Potions remains an interesting class that Harry managed to receive an "Exceeds Expectations" in during his O.W.L. exam, and various potions helped the Chosen One in his travels more than once. But with dozens of mysterious tonics encountered throughout the Wizarding World, which spirits reign supreme? These are the 10 most powerful potions in Harry Potter!
10. Draught of Peace
Ingredients: Powdered moonstone, unicorn horn, and porcupine quills
Effect: Relieves anxiety and agitation
Administered to several fifth-year students following their panic attacks regarding upcoming O.W.L. exams, the Draught of Peace calms nerves and allows concentration. It might not eliminate enemies or give an edge in battle, but the Draught of Peace combats our unseen struggles against depression and anxiety, something that would aid a great number of people in real life.
Despite its soothing effects, the Draught of Peace is ironically tricky to craft, and Professor Snape once gave Harry a score of zero in his attempt to brew one due to a simple mistake.
Effect: Induces an intense artificial love
Advertised as the strongest love potion in existence, Amortentia can't create true love, but it causes such powerful infatuation bordering on obsession that it's hard to tell the difference. The process for mixing it has yet to be revealed, but we know that the potion's aroma changes to match scents that every individual finds pleasant; to Hermione, it smells like fresh-cut grass and new parchment.
A dangerous drug, Amortentia is the closest thing we've seen to date rape in Harry Potter; Merope Gaunt (Voldermort's mother) used it to force Tom Riddle Senior to marry her and conceive a child, and Romilda Vane slipped some into chocolates intended for Harry that Ron ended up eating instead.
8. Beautification Potion
Ingredients: Fairy wings, morning dew, rose petals
Effect: Makes one temporarily attractive
Why force a false love with Amortentia when you can simply make yourself desirable with the Beautification Potion? Rather than manipulating another's feelings towards you, this handy elixir temporarily removes your blemishes and enhance your features. Looks aren't everything, but they certainly don't hurt when attracting a partner.
If you think it's "cheating" or morally wrong to unnaturally advance your own looks, consider that people do it in real life all the time (make-up, wigs, etc.) and that Hermione once took advantage of a shrinking potion to reduce her slightly-large front teeth to a more normal size.
7. Wolfsbane Potion
Ingredients: Wolfsbane (presumably others as well)
Effect: Relieves the effects of lycanthropy
Wolfsbane Potion doesn't cure but alleviates the symptoms of lycanthropy, the condition Remus Lupin suffers from. Lycanthropy is simply a fancy term for a werewolf, and while Wolfsbane does not prevent the transformation under a full moon, it morphs its user into a drowsy regular wolf rather than a vicious werewolf. Wolfsbane also allows consumers to maintain their memories after the transformation.
As helpful as it is to lycanthropy-inflicted wizards, Wolfsbane is tricky to craft, and the ingredients are expensive to find, meaning several werewolves are unable to regularly ingest it. During Harry's third year in the Prisoner of Azkaban book, Remus Lupin agrees to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts on the condition that Severus Snape continuously manufactures Wolfsbane for his use, a term Dumbledore wisely agrees to.
Ingredients: Chinese chomping cabbage, puffer-fish, scarab beetles
Effect: Causes lost bones to regrow
A vile-tasting and painful potion, Skele-Gro is nonetheless a powerful apothecary tool, completely regenerating lost bones. In Chamber of Secrets, Madam Pomfrey helps Harry's right arm recover after Gilderoy Lockhart fumbles an attempt at healing Harry following his injury in a Quidditch match. In book seven, Deathly Hallows, Fleur Delacour also administered Skele-Gro to the goblin Griphook to treat the leg injuries he obtained during the heist into Gringotts bank.
5. Invisibility Potion
Ingredients: Cherries (presumably more)
Effect: Renders one temporarily invisible
A handy alternative to the Invisibility Cloak or Disillusionment charm, this item's canonicity is questionable because it only appears in select Harry Potter video games. Still, it offers the same valuable effect as Harry's infamous cloak, making one invisible to the naked eye.
As Harry and his friends continuously prove, avoiding detection is much easier while invisible, and imagine the advantage of drinking this liquid before battle—enemy spells can't hit what their eyes can't see. Float like a butterfly, sting like an invisible bee.
Effect: Forces the user to tell the truth when questioned
The most powerful truth serum, Veritaserum mandates its user accurately answer anything asked to them. This offers a handy tool to the wizarding justice system, especially with all the disguises and deceptions provided through other potions and spells.
That said, Veritaserum can be resisted with a corresponding antidote or sufficient Occlumency skill, often rendering it ineffective in court proceedings. Despite these counters, in Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore used Veritaserum on Barty Crouch Jr. to reveal his impersonation of Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody. As fierce as this secret-divulging concoction is, Crouch used an even stronger potion to maintain his charade...
3. Polyjuice Potion
Ingredients: Lacewing flies, leeches, knotgrass, fluxweed, and a hair from the desired form
Effect: Changes appearance to match the hair's bearer
Famously used by Harry and Ron in Chamber of Secrets to obtain information from Draco Malfoy by masquerading as Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, Polyjuice Potion completely alters a mystic's appearance to mimic an individual, greatly assisting in subterfuge. However, the effect only seems to work when used with beings of the same species; Hermione mistakenly morphs into a cat-human fusion after accidentally stealing a cat hair.
Polyjuice Potion is a challenge even for experienced wizards and witches to brew, requiring dedicated attention and needing an entire month to fully settle. In addition to Harry, Ron, and Barty Crouch's uses, Polyjuice also assisted Draco's smuggling of Death Eaters into Hogwarts, the gang's infiltration of the Ministry of Magic, and Harry's deception of Delphi in Cursed Child. Despite its powers, Polyjuice users must take caution as the effect fades after an hour.
2. Felix Felicis
Ingredients: Ashwinder egg, squill bulb, murtlap tentacle
Effect: Temporarily grants the recipient luck
Stated to make every endeavor successful and turn an ordinary day extraordinary, Felix Felicis is banned in official events like exams and Quidditch. More than that, it's incredibly tricky to brew, needing six months to weld, and like several potions, it's dangerous when fused improperly or taken in excess.
However, it grants an incredible gift: sheer luck. In Half-Blood Prince, Harry uses his Felix Felicis prize to help him obtain one of Slughorn's memories (which was needed for information on Voldemort's Horcruxes). He also gave it to his allies to use when the Death Eaters invaded Hogwarts, and his friends survived the fight largely thanks to the uncanny dodges offered by the potion. In addition to helping persuade Slughorn to relinquish his memory, Harry also accomplished several other objectives with Felix's power, including breaking up Ron's bad relationship with Lavender and destabilizing Ginny's relationship with Dean (giving himself a shot with her).
1. Elixir of Life
Ingredients: The Sorcerer's Stone (or Philosopher's Stone, for non-Americans)
Effect: Extends one's life indefinitely
Derived from the Sorceror's Stone, this mysterious potion indefinitely extends life; Nicolas Flamel, creator of the Stone, and his wife Perenelle lived for over 600 years using this method. Little information exists about the Elixir; we don't know if the users are truly immortal while under its effects, or if the remedy only halts aging, meaning takers can still be killed.
We do know Voldemort initially planned to return to life using the Elixir, although he preferred Horcruxes for maintaining his life indefinitely, as the Life potion requires regular ingestion to stay effective. A powerful liquid, but one seemingly lost to mankind; with Flamel's blessing, the Sorcerer's Stone was destroyed and the supply of Elixir halted, preventing additional brews and once again chaining the secret to eternal life.
Future of Potions
For chemists like myself, potions offer a relatable aspect of Harry Potter since the instructions for brewing them resemble the guidelines for synthesizing real-world medicines and chemicals; bakers follow a similar list of instructions when following a recipe. Either way, potions further enhance our love for the Wizarding World, even if they often take a backseat to more dynamic and immediate magic.
Although Harry's story has supposedly concluded, we're still being treated to new magical tidbits through Pottermore releases as well as the Fantastic Beast series, and I look forward to encountering new mystical broths. But for now, as we eagerly await J.K. Rowling's next endeavor, vote for your favorite potion, and I'll see you at our next Harry Potter countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: Does anyone know the ingredients to Veritaserum?
Answer: Not yet, but Snape once said "the potion must mature for a full lunar phase", and we know it's clear and odorless.
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
sky on April 28, 2020:
Jk Rowling is admired by me for her wonderful works!
Rugile on February 10, 2020:
Filipe Baião from Lisbon on November 20, 2019:
Harry Potter truly boasts some of the most creative potions in literature. However, despite its variety, the most interesting one for me is Amortentia, even though Love Potions are pretty common in literature. I just like the point JK makes when introducing it, that Love is so powerful that no man-made artificial construct can replicate it, especially given that JK herself suggests that what's in the Love Room in OotP is Amortentia
Elliott on June 14, 2019:
I marvel at JK Rowling's imagination in being able to invent so many potions.
Liz Westwood from UK on September 03, 2018:
I marvel at JK Rowling's imagination in being able to invent so many potions.