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By combining different potions appropriately, common potions of speed, healing and extra healing can be converted to the much more useful full healing and/or gain ability.

If you #dip one potion into another potion, and the potion you are dipping into is not a potion of water, and neither of the potions involved is a potion of polymorph, then you are performing alchemy. 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 worth it: 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 involve any potion of acid in alchemy.
  • 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.
    • Note that in SLASH'EM, dipping into a cursed potion will cause an explosion.
  • 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.

Danger of alchemic blasts

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.[1] Note: wearing an alchemy smock has no effect on alchemy!


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 up to nine potions in the former stack[2], while consuming only one potion of the latter stack:

  • If you dip 10 or more potions, 2-9 of them will be alchemized
  • If you dip 2-9 nonmagic potions, 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 magic potions, 2-N of them will be alchemized, where N is the number of dipped potions.

Dipping potions in water is not considered alchemy, therefore if you dip a stack of potions in water, all of them will be affected.

It may be benefitial to wait until you have a stack of at least nine 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 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 left and the ingredients are on the right; sometimes there is a numbered list of multiple recipes. Try skimming the left column for the potion that you want to make. All potions in the tables do link to their articles.

Simple recipes

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.

To make Use these ingredients
potion of extra healing
  1. potion of healing + potion of speed or
  2. potion of healing + potion of gain level or
  3. potion of healing + potion of gain energy
potion of full healing
  1. potion of extra healing + potion of gain level or
  2. potion of extra healing + potion of gain energy
potion of gain ability
  1. potion of full healing + potion of gain level or
  2. potion of full healing + potion of gain energy
potion of see invisible
  1. potion of fruit juice + potion of gain level or
  2. potion of fruit juice + potion of gain energy

Difficult recipes

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.

To make Use these ingredients
  1. potion of confusion + potion of gain level or
  2. potion of confusion + potion of gain energy
  1. potion of enlightenment + potion of levitation

Mostly-useless recipes

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. Most players, however, would find these recipes useless:

To make Use these ingredients
potion of booze
  1. potion of fruit juice + potion of enlightenment or
  2. potion of fruit juice + potion of speed
potion of confusion
  1. potion of booze + potion of enlightenment
potion of hallucination
  1. potion of booze + potion of gain level or
  2. potion of booze + potion of gain energy
potion of sickness
  1. potion of fruit juice + 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 into a potion of acid, then NetHack will give you some random result:

  • Your stack may turn into potions of water. (1/8 chance, but 1/1 chance 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 of your potions may evaporate, the one potion dipped into will also be used up. (1/2 chance)

Multiple step recipes

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. Along 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/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:

Stack of water → sickness → fruit juice → booze → confusion → enlightenment → gain level

Gather lots of potions, turn them into water, dip the stack of water (blessed or uncursed) into some potion, this counts as random alchemy (see below), 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. Dip into speed for booze. Dip into enlightenment for confusion. Dip into gain level or gain energy for a 1 in 3 chance of enlightenment (the other 2/3 they become booze, which moves you back a bit). Dip into levitation for a 2 in 3 chance of gain level, the rest of the time it counts as a random result, and probably means you have to start the whole thing over again, although if the stack is big enough, you don't need to turn them into water. 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.

In SLASH'EM, 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, however the vapors caused by an explosion will cause you to forget spells, items and levels, unless you are both polymorphed into a form that is eyeless and have magical breathing.

Color alchemy

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:

Color Light Dark
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:

Mix These To Get This
Red + Yellow Orange
Red + Blue Purple
Yellow + Blue Green
Any two secondaries Brown
Any dark potion + White Potion Corresponding light potion
Any light potion + Black Potion Corresponding dark portion
Black + White Gray
Any Other Combination Random Alchemy Result, as above

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
  • Cloudy
  • Dark
  • Effervescent
  • Gooey
  • Greasy
  • Fizzy
  • Icy
  • Luminescent
  • Milky
  • Muddy
  • Murky
  • Silver
  • Slimy
  • Smoky
  • Soapy
  • Sparkling
  • Squishy
  • Steamy
  • Swirly
  • Viscous.

The patch also changes three potion names: Purple-Red becomes Amber, Briliant Blue becomes Indigo, and Cyan becomes 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.

Finally, a Potion of Polymorph, regardless of its color, will simply polymorph anything it is mixed with.

Blood potions

Potions of blood and vampire blood, introduced in SLASH'EM and UnNetHack, are also subject to alchemy:

To make Use these ingredients
potion of blood
  1. potion of fruit juice + potion of blood
potion of vampire blood
  1. potion of fruit juice + potion of vampire blood

Note that in UnNetHack those are the only potion-mixing recipes outside of the color alchemy system.

Gem Alchemy (SLASH'EM and dNethack)

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. Note there are no gems that give out milky, smoky, muddy, fizzy, luminescent, puce, bubbly, icy, blood-red or clear potions. There seems to be a chance that any dipping can result in an explosion, as in any alchemy. If the potion of acid is cursed, it always explode, like with normal alchemy. Finally, note that you will need one potion of acid per potion produced; Stacks of gems will be melted one gem at a time.

Gem to dip into acid Resulting potion color/appearance
Dilithium crystal None - Always explodes
Opal Cloudy potion
Ruby Ruby potion
Garnet Pink potion
Jasper Purple-red potion
Jacinth Orange potion
Agate Swirly potion
Citrine Yellow potion
Chrysoberyl Golden potion
Amber Brown potion
Topaz Murky potion
Emerald Emerald potion
Turquoise Sky blue potion
Aquamarine Cyan potion
Jade Dark green potion
Sapphire Brilliant blue potion
Amethyst Magenta potion
Fluorite White potion
Black opal Black potion
Jet Dark potion
Obsidian Effervescent potion
Worthless glass No effect
No gem milky, smoky, muddy, fizzy, luminescent, puce, bubbly, icy, blood-red and clear potions

As in vanilla Nethack, dipping an amethyst into a potion of booze turns it into a potion of fruit juice.


  1. potion.c in NetHack 3.4.3, line 1668
  2. src/potion.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 1860

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to {{nethack-360}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.