Can of grease

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( Can of grease.png
Name can of grease
Appearance can of grease
Base price 20 zm
Weight 20
Material iron
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

A can of grease is a type of tool that appears in NetHack. It is made of iron, and is used to grease items for various purposes. The oilskin cloak and oilskin sack act as "permanently greased" objects.


Randomly-generated cans of grease are created with d25 charges, and generate as 90% uncursed, 5% blessed, and 5% cursed.[1]

While greased objects are not generated outside of bones files, player monsters on the Astral Plane have a 13 chance of generating with a greased weapon.


Applying a can of grease can be used to slather any item (including your hands via -, but excluding your wallet contents) in a thick layer of grease, using up one charge. Applying a can of grease that is cursed or trying to apply one while fumbling only has a 50% chance of being successful, and the can will otherwise slip from your grasp and drop to the ground, using up a charge;[2] in addition, applying a cursed can of grease successfully will also give you slippery fingers.[3] A can of grease can also be used to untrap squeaky boards, using up a charge in the process.

Greased cans can hold a maximum of 50 charges: uncursed charging adds 1-5 charges, while blessed charging adds 6-15 charges if there are fewer than 10 charges left and 5-10 charges otherwise.

Greased items

Greased objects are protected from rust and corrosion, as well as water damage and acid damage[4][5][6] - greased containers protect their contents from water damage, and greased spellbooks, potions and scrolls are protected from blanking or dilution; the grease has no effect on anything that would burn or rot objects.[7] After successfully protecting an item from damage, the grease has a 12 chance of wearing off. [8][9][6]

Greased armor on the outermost layer (e.g. usually a cloak or helm) can protect against attacks that target body parts covered by that armor: the greased armor has a 23 chance of protection if it is cursed, and will always protect that body part(s) otherwise.[10] A greased weapon has no additional protection from a bullwhip's disarm attack, and greased items are not any more difficult for monsters that are covetous or have theft attacks to steal.[11][12][13]

Greased items may slip when you attempt to throw them, similar to cursed projectiles; this will not unweld cursed weapons or other applicable tools. A greased object will also slide further along the floor than normal when kicked.


Greasing your cloak and helmet is fairly standard strategy for most players: it protects against grabbing from owlbears and sea monsters among other monsters, and mind flayers cannot attach their tentacles to a greased helmet. It is also common to grease non-oilskin sacks and containers, particularly a bag of holding, in order to protect their contents. Greasing other objects such as weapons is fine as long as you do not intend to throw them, while greasing your hands or most other items is typically unnecessary; for illiterate conduct play, grease is one of the few options you have to protect weapons and armor against erosion.

It is common to request an item as greased when wishing - though this seems most useful for body armor and cloaks, potions and scrolls are also worth wishing for as greased, which adds a layer of protection in the event any mishaps occur between obtaining them and their use case coming into play.

While a can of grease is commonly used in preparing ascension kits, it may or may not be part of one itself - this depends on how many charges are left in the can and how frequently applied grease ends up wearing off.


The can of grease first appears in NetHack 3.1.0.


You cover your <item> with a thick layer of grease.
You applied the can to an item.
You coat your fingers with grease.
You applied the can to your hands by specifying "-" at the prompt.
The <monster> grabs you, but cannot hold onto your greased <armor>!
You were protected from a grabbing attack.
The grease wears off.
A piece of armor is no longer greased.
Some of the grease gets all over your hands.
You greased an item with a cursed can of grease, and your fingers are now slippery.
The can of grease slips from your fingers.
The can of grease fell to the ground, either from being cursed or handled while fumbling.



In GruntHack, wearing greased gloves grants slippery fingers as an extrinsic.


In UnNetHack, the iron golem that can appear in the forest on the Ruins of Moria's fifth floor has a 15 chance of generating with a a can of grease.


In xNetHack, cans of grease have a base material of plastic rather than iron.

Encyclopedia entry

ANOINT, v.t. To grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery.

[ The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce ]


  1. src/mkobj.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 938
  2. src/apply.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 2306
  3. src/apply.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 2324
  4. src/trap.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 199
  5. src/trap.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 3485: Grease and acid
  6. 6.0 6.1 src/trap.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 3541: Grease dissolving after stopping water damage.
  7. src/trap.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 169-L178: check_grease is set to FALSE for burning and rotting
  8. src/mhitu.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 857: Grease wearing off from grabbing
  9. src/trap.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 306: Grease dissolving from rust/corrosion
  10. src/mhitu.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 843: Grease protection in u_slip_free
  11. src/muse.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1910: The MUSE_BULLWHIP case does not check for greased status
  12. src/mhitu.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1336: Theft attacks do not check for greased status either
  13. src/muse.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 1388: Covetous theft attacks also don't care if the target item is greased