Alchemy is the process of dipping one potion into another potion. If it goes well, the two potions will mix into one new uncursed, diluted potion. For those who are not spoiled, alchemy is difficult to learn.
Though most of the effects of alchemy are dangerous or unpredictable, a few specific recipes are worthwhile. You can use potions of gain energy to upgrade your potions of healing and extra healing. You can also use potions of gain level for these upgrades, if you don't need to gain levels.
- Do not dip a potion of acid into anything; it will cause an alchemic blast!
- Do not dip a cursed potion into anything; it will cause an alchemic blast!
- Dipping into a cursed potion, however, is no different from dipping into an uncursed potion, and in fact is a good way to use up a cursed potion.
- While you need not know the identity of the involved potions to use the recipes, having a clue about what ingredients you use to achieve a specific result is of course necessary. Identifying input potions through alchemy is not feasible because of the high chance of random effects.
- Identifying output potions, on the other hand, is quite common and often useful.
Even if you are following the recipes, there is a 1⁄10 chance of an alchemic blast ("BOOM! They explode!"). Furthermore, if you dip a potion of acid or any cursed potion into another potion, you will always cause an alchemic blast. The mixture will explode, the blast will take 1 to 10 HP from you, and it will generate vapors from the potion being dipped. The blast will also abuse your strength.
Stacking potions before performing alchemy is often beneficial. Dipping a stack of any number of potions into a stack of one or more other potions will alchemize multiple potions in the former stack, while consuming only one potion of the latter stack:
- If the resulting potion (or, for random alchemy, any of the two ingredients) is magical, 3–8 of dipped potions will be alchemized (but no more than the size of the stack).
- If the resulting potion is non-magical (booze or sickness recipes), or you are performing random alchemy with non-magic potions, at least 7 and up to the entire stack will be alchemized.
Dipping potions into water is not considered alchemy. If you dip a stack of potions into water, all of them will be affected.
It may be beneficial to wait until you have a stack of at least eight potions to dip before performing alchemy, to get the greatest return out of the dipped-into potion. If you have multiple potions of the same type, but they don't stack, it may be because their dilution, beatitude, or your knowledge of their beatitude don't match. You can dilute potions by dipping them into a fountain, dipping them in a moat while flying or wearing water walking boots, or dropping your iron items, scrolls, spellbooks and other potions and walking into water. In the latter case, make sure your encumbrance is less than Stressed, and multiple dips may be required if your Luck is high. Make sure to examine your potions between each dip, to avoid accidentally turning a diluted potion into water. If you possess water walking boots, the process becomes much simpler.
An altar will identify the beatitude of your potions. If following the atheist conduct, you can bless the potions with holy water; seeing the glow will identify the beatitude. If nothing happens when you dip into holy water, the potions are already blessed; use unholy water to unbless them instead.
If an alchemy attempt results in an explosion, only the number of potions actually being dipped will be used up, not the entire stack you were trying to dip. Thus, there's no need to split up a stack to prevent accidents.
The mixtype function decrees the alchemy recipes in this game. Each recipe requires you to mix two potions. The order of potions does not matter: whether you dip a potion of healing into a potion of speed, or dip a potion of speed into a potion of healing, you will make a potion of extra healing (with the 1⁄10 chance of an alchemic blast instead). The outcome will always be diluted, regardless if the input potions were.
In the tables below, the result is on the right and the ingredients are on the left. In some cases, multiple recipes can yield the same result.
These recipes have the greatest likelihood of succeeding. Potions of extra healing and full healing are useful to have throughout the game, because quaffing them while fully healed is a common way to increase max hit points. Potions of gain ability are a good way to increase attributes early in the game, but are of little use late in the game when your attributes are already at maximum.
It is not usually necessary to manufacture potions of see invisible via alchemy, because potions of see invisible are relatively common anyway, and a single blessed potion of see invisible will convey the intrinsic permanently.
|potion of extra healing|
|potion of full healing|
|potion of gain ability|
|potion of see invisible|
Some recipes do not always produce the same result. The potion of enlightenment formula is almost never worth attempting because the probability of success is so low. Potions of gain level, however, are often worth obtaining via alchemy, because they are more useful than the potions used to make them, and the chance of success is higher than with enlightenment.
Only in rare cases would you ever use these recipes, since you're using up some good potions to make bad ones. For example, maybe you really need a potion of booze to confuse yourself, or perhaps potions of hallucination are smoky potions in your game, or you have a variety of projectiles you wish to poison. Most players, however, would find these recipes useless:
|potion of booze|
|potion of confusion|
|potion of hallucination|
|potion of sickness|
Random alchemy results
If you perform alchemy on two potions that do not have an otherwise defined result, and you did not dip a potion of acid into something, then you receive some random result:
- Your stack may turn into potions of water. (1⁄8 chance, or always if dipping a diluted potion into another potion)
- Your stack may turn into potions of sickness. (1⁄4 chance)
- Your stack may turn into a random potion type, with the usual probabilities that apply to random potions found in the dungeon. (1⁄8 chance)
- One (all in 3.6.0) of your potions may evaporate; the one potion dipped into will also be used up. (1⁄2 chance)
It is possible to use the result of alchemy for further alchemy, as long as you follow the normal recipes. Diluted potions work fine.
One example is making blessed potions of full healing and gain ability from all those healing and extra healing potions you've collected. You will need to re-stack your potions at all intermediate stages: bless stacks so all will have the same identified BUC status, and dilute concentrated potions so they will stack with the newly-alchemized ones. Follow the route:
- healing → extra healing → full healing → gain ability
Only the first step can be done using a potion of speed; the rest need gain energy or gain level (see image at the beginning of the page). Leave over enough full healing, and bless all the end results.
A much more complicated recipe is for making lots of potions of gain level:
Gather lots of potions, turn them into water, and dip the stack of water (blessed or uncursed) into some potion. This counts as random alchemy; 25% of the time you will get potions of sickness. (The other times you may lose one potion of water, or get some other random result. In those cases, just dip again unless you get something good from the random result.) Cancel the sickness or dip a unicorn horn to turn it into juice, then dip juice into speed for booze. Dip booze into enlightenment for confusion, and dip that into gain level or gain energy for a 1⁄3 chance of enlightenment (the other 2⁄3 they become booze, which moves you back a bit). Dip into levitation for a 2⁄3 chance of gain level (the other 1⁄3 gives a random result, and probably means you have to start the whole thing over again.)
This recipe uses up expected 23.67 potion, including all the trackbacks and alchemic explosions. To conserve resources, you can dip the water into otherwise useless potion of acid, and use a unicorn horn or cancellation spell to convert sickness to juice rather than a wand of cancellation. Order matters, don't dip acid into water!
Unfortunately, in 3.6.1 this recipe is much less profitable. Firstly, producing sickness through random alchemy incurs a 50% chance per dip of the entire water stack disappearing, which makes it significantly more risky (and costly on average). Secondly, both confusion and enlightenment are magical potions, so making them in decent amounts under the new stacking rules is significantly harder. Assuming a large potion supply (at least 8 for each dip) and accounting both for dipped-in enlightenment and byproduct booze, each potion of enlightenment on average requires 5.1 potions of booze and 1.9 potions of gain level or gain energy to make, which actually makes using gain level counterproductive. In a more realistic scenario of limited potion supply, you have a very real possibility of using up all of your gain energy potions and ending up with fewer enlightenment potions than your initial supply.
In NetHack 3.6.0, alchemizing a stack works differently:
- If you dip 10 or more potions, 2–9 of them will be alchemized.
- If you dip 2–9 potions into a non-magical potion, all of them will be alchemized. The following potions are nonmagic: water, oil, acid, fruit juice, booze, and potion of sickness.
- If you dip 2–9 potions into a magical potion, at least 2 will be alchemized, up to the number of potions dipped.
In NetHack 3.4.3 and earlier, alchemy always acts on the entire stack.
In SLASH'EM, dipping into a cursed potion will cause an explosion.
Dipping a potion of water into another potion is the same as dipping that potion into water; thus it is not possible to use potions of water in random alchemy, as it will always dilute the other potion rather than creating a random alchemic result. This can be circumvented by taking the potions of water and dipping them into the castle moat, turning them into potions of amnesia. These potions can then be used for random alchemy, but the vapors caused by an explosion will cause you to forget spells, items and levels, unless you are polymorphed into a form that is eyeless and have breathlessness from any source, including your polymorphed form.
The Color Alchemy Patch, notably incorporated in UnNetHack 3.5.2, changes the rules of alchemy to be based on artistic color mapping. It makes use of the primary colors red, blue and yellow, the secondary colors orange, green and purple, and the tertiary color brown, as well as black and white. All primary, secondary, and tertiary colors have a light and dark variant:
|Red||pink potion||ruby potion|
|Blue||sky blue potion||indigo potion|
|Yellow||yellow potion||golden potion|
|Orange||orange potion||amber potion|
|Green||emerald potion||dark green potion|
|Purple||puce potion||magenta potion|
|Brown||ochre potion||brown potion|
Mixing potions together gets the following results:
|red + yellow||orange|
|red + blue||purple|
|yellow + blue||green|
|any two secondaries||brown|
|any dark potion + white||corresponding light potion|
|any light potion + black||corresponding dark portion|
|black + white||gray|
|any other combination||random alchemy result|
Mixing two light potions will create the light version of the result, and the same goes with dark. Mixing a light and a dark potion will create either result at random unless one of the original potions is diluted, in which case the result will have the same light/dark level as the undiluted potion.
These potions are considered colorless:
bubbly icy smoky cloudy luminescent soapy dark milky sparkling effervescent muddy squishy gooey murky steamy greasy silver swirly fizzy slimy viscous
The patch also changes three potion names: purple-red, brilliant blue, and cyan are replaced with amber, indigo, and viscous.
Because there are 12 more possible potion colors than types of potions in the game, some colors will probably not exist, rendering some formulas unavailable for certain games.
If the desired color is not a color used in the game, both potions will be wasted. For example, if you mix an orange potion with an emerald potion, but brown potions are not used in your game, then you will both potions disappear, leaving you with nothing: "The mixture glows brightly and evaporates."
Finally, a potion of polymorph, regardless of its color, will simply polymorph anything it is mixed with.
|potion of fruit juice + potion of blood||potion of blood|
|potion of fruit juice + potion of vampire blood||potion of vampire blood|
In UnNetHack, these are the only potion-mixing recipes outside of the color alchemy system.
In SLASH'EM and dNetHack, dipping a valuable gem into a potion of acid will generate another type of potion. The potion you get is defined by its randomized description, not by its identified description. For example, if you dip a ruby into acid, you will always get a ruby potion whether ruby potions are full healing or hallucination in your game.
There's a chance that dipping will cause an explosion, using up the potion and gem and dealing some damage. If the potion of acid is cursed, it always explodes, like with normal alchemy. You will need one potion of acid per potion produced; stacks of gems will be melted one gem at a time.
|Dipped gem||Resulting potion appearance|
|dilithium crystal||(always explodes)|
|turquoise||sky blue potion|
|jade||dark green potion|
|sapphire||brilliant blue potion|
|black opal||black potion|
|worthless glass||(no effect)|
There are no gems that produce milky, smoky, muddy, fizzy, luminescent, puce, bubbly, icy, blood-red, or clear potions.
As in vanilla NetHack, dipping an amethyst into a potion of booze turns it into a potion of fruit juice.