Potion of holy water

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! Clear potion.png
Name holy water
Appearance blessed clear potion
Base price 100 zm
Weight 20
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

The potion of holy water is a blessed potion of water, and appears as a "blessed clear potion" when unidentified.


All Priest(esse)s start the game with 4 potions of holy water, and Wizards have a chance of starting the game with holy water as one of their random potions.

In addition to random generation, Shops sell holy water in 14.4% of all non-Tourist dungeons.

A horn of plenty may occasionally produce a potion of water when applied, which will also be blessed if the horn is blessed.


Quaffing a potion of holy water cures lycanthropy and, for non-chaotics, cures all illnesses; chaotics will take 2d6 damage instead of having illnesses cured.

You can #dip an object (or stack of objects) into holy water to uncurse or bless them, using up one potion of holy water; objects dipped into holy water do not become wet. A cursed object will be uncursed, while an uncursed object will be blessed; dipping a blessed object into holy water will simply produce an "Interesting..." message, and the potion is not consumed.

Inhaling vapors from a potion of holy water reverts you to human form if you have lycanthropy, but does not cure it; monsters hit with thrown or wielded potion of holy water take 2d6 damage if they are a demon, undead, or lycanthrope, and lycanthropes are additionally shifted to their human form.


Holy water is one of the many methods of curse removal and one of the few means of blessing objects, so it is considered essential for almost any player to have. When blessing and/or uncursing objects, always be sure to #adjust them into a single stack first. If necessary, use #name to remove names from any named objects so that you can stack them for dipping.

Blessing and uncursing items

From the mid-game on—especially if you are frequently using two-handed weapons—consider keeping holy water and other forms of curse removal in small caches on the current level, or other levels, that you can easily access. If wielding a cursed two-handed weapon, you can retreat to a cache in order to get it uncursed. You can also dedicate a separate container, such as a sack, to holding holy water and other curse-removing items; as of 3.6.0, you can #tip containers, allowing you to get holy water in order to uncurse the two-handed weapon.

Even once your primary tools and kit are blessed, you will benefit from keeping a few potions of holy water on hand, often to bless any useful items found later on, and especially to deal with curse-slinging spellcasters. Even for items that would display little to no real difference in function (such as most armor), blessing them can still offer vital protection—blessed objects targeted by a cursing effect will only become uncursed.


In shops, holy water can be easily identified since uncursed potions of water have a base price of 0, and holy/unholy water has a base price of 100; a pet can easily reveal the beatitude of a 100zm clear potion.

Dip-testing can be used to informally identify the BUC of water, and is best done after pet testing for any unholy water. Use a blessed, non-iron item to do so - holy water will only produce a message without consuming the potion, while uncursed water will wet the item without consuming it (which also rusts iron objects). In theory, potions can be dipped to test if they are blessed before quaffing them, but this risks diluting the potion(s) and using up the water in the process; this is also not practical for testing if other unidentified items are blessed, as such a blessed item is usually discovered this way by accident.

Obtaining water

There are multiple other ways to obtain or produce holy water, each of which require other potions of water on hand, and all are discussed in the sections below. Potions of water can be created by some of the following methods:

  • #Dipping another potion(s) into a fountain or body of water twice will first dilute it, and then convert it to an uncursed bottle of water regardless of its original BUC.
    • Dropping potions in your inventory into a pool of water or walking into one with potions in your inventory works the same way, though both actions are much riskier. You will need a way to retrieve the potions afterward or a way to prevent water damage to the rest of your inventory.
  • Cancelling will turn many potions into uncursed water; some other potions, such as potions of sickness and booze, will instead become fruit juice. See that article for more details.
  • Dipping a unicorn horn into a potion of blindness, confusion, or hallucination will turn them into potions of water.

Prayer and altars

By standing on a co-aligned altar, placing nonblessed potions of water on it and #praying (while it is safe to do so), all of those potions will be blessed in addition to the regular results of a successful prayer; doing this at a cross-aligned altar will create unholy water instead and anger your god. While prayer is not always readily available, praying to make holy water has the benefit of immediately blessing unholy water without using up other resources.

Dipping into holy water

If you have at least one potion of holy water, you can #adjust all your uncursed potions of water into a single stack, then dip them into the holy water to bless the entire stack. This can be used to produce holy water more quickly and reliably than prayer, especially for a crowned player, at the slight cost of using up one of the potions; unholy water takes two such dips to unbless, and prayer is preferable for converting unholy water that you do not plan to use later.

Confused scrolls of remove curse

Reading a blessed scroll of remove curse while confused has a chance of either blessing or cursing each uncursed item or stack of items in your main inventory. Each has an independently calculated chance of either being blessed (25%), cursed (25%), or left alone (50%); additionally, all uncursed items will lose formal BUC identification. For example, if you are carrying 10 non-stacked uncursed potions of water, reading a blessed scroll of remove curse while confused gives you a 94.3% chance of holy water.

This method is often used to create both holy and unholy water, and requires the player to drop and/or stash their uncursed inventory, including any armor, weapons, jewelry or leashes. Once done, you can use the #adjust command to stack each of the potions and re-identify their beatitude by using an altar, pet testing them and/or dip-testing using a blessed non-iron object as mentioned above. For atheists, this is one of the most reliable ways to obtain holy water and bless other items; using an altar in anyway will break the conduct.

Conserving holy water

Which items 'deserve' blessing the most depends heavily on the player and their approach; there are still certain items that serve a ubiquitous purpose, sometimes to the point of frequently appearing in ascension kits. It is often very important to establish what items you will bless ahead of time in order to conserve the amount of holy water used. The following items are among the most common targets for blessing:

  • A blessed bag of holding will divide the effective weight of its contents by four, comparing to an uncursed bag halving its contents' weight; this confers a great advantage in how much you can carry, lifting upwards of 200 units of weight off your back.
  • A blessed scroll of charging gives a recharged item more charges on average than an uncursed scroll, and thus has a better chance of restoring it to its maximum capacity of uses. This is most useful for saving a "2 blessed scrolls of charging" wish from a wand of wishing.
  • If you use ranged weapons, which have a chance of disappearing, blessing them drastically lowers the chances they will do so.
  • A blessed horn of plenty will produce blessed food and potions, useful for foodless conduct.
  • A blessed scroll of identify will usually identify more than one item, sometimes even your entire inventory.
  • A blessed potion of gain level advances your level and puts you part way to the next level, while an uncursed one only advances you to the bottom of the next level. Early on, this can be quite useful. Later, the XP requirements for advancing a level become so steep it doesn't help much, as advancing a level naturally would still require considerable farming.
  • A blessed scroll of genocide will wipe out an entire monster class as opposed to only one species. The more monsters in the class, and the more dangerous they are, the better; Liches are an especially common target.

Conduct considerations

Violates Method
Atheist Water prayer
Pacifist Death drop, e. g. pudding farming
Illiterate Confused scroll of remove curse technique
Polypile Polymorph blessed potions (e. g. from throne farming) (to accomplish this without breaking any other conducts, identify blessed potions by comparing the sizes of your potion stacks and making use of the fact that uncursed potions are 6 times as likely as blessed ones.)
Wishless Wish for it directly (or for a blessed horn of plenty)
"Scumming" Find it, e.g. in starting inventory (wizard 3.6% chance, priest 100%), in shops, or in bones files.

This is an exhaustive list of ways to make holy water; 53% of all games randomly generate holy water in the Mines or the main dungeons down to Medusa's Island.


All potions of water were introduced in NetHack 1.3d.


You feel full of awe.
You quaffed a potion of holy water, and are lawful or neutral.
This burns like acid!
As above, but you are chaotic.
<foo> glows amber.
You dipped a cursed object into a potion of holy water, and it is now uncursed.
<foo> glows light blue.
You dipped an uncursed object into a potion of holy water, and it is now blessed.

After receiving any of the above message, you will be prompted to type-name the potion if you had not already identified it.


The religion-related functions of holy water, and the fact that Priests start the game with some, are derived from the religious practices of water being blessed by a member of the clergy or other significant figure (or conversely, derived from a well or spring that considered holy). Said water is typically used for cleansing prior to baptism and spiritual cleansing in several religions, from Christianity to Sikhism; the use of holy water as a sacramental for protection against evil is common among Lutherans, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Christians.



In SLASH'EM, there are additional methods to obtain holy water:

  • The potion of amnesia dilutes into a potion of water immediately when dipped into any water source. Unlike normal dipping, this does not change the beatitude, and can be used to create (un)holy water.
  • Some shops offer an uncursing service with a base price of 150 zorkmids before modifiers. If you are hallucinating, there is a 1/4 chance the shopkeeper will be distracted and accidentally bless the item. This is best done with an on-demand source of hallucination (e.g. the potion or tins of yellow mold or violet fungus), a good deal of credit with the shopkeeper, an engraved or burnt Elbereth to avoid accidents, and a unicorn horn to cure the hallucination after. Remember that hallucination in SLASH'EM also messes with viewing your inventory 0 don't forget the inventory letter for your potions of water.
  • Occasionally upon sacrifice at an altar, your god will bless the object in your primary or off-hand. This can be used with wielded potions of water; press x to swap them, and sacrifice until they become holy.


In dNetHack, you can also use shopkeeper services in the same way as SLASH'EM to create holy water. Additionally, a Binder that binds Marionette is forbidden from drinking holy water.

The Windowless Tower has a niche with four potions of holy water on its second floor.


In EvilHack, player monster priests and (less commonly) wizards can be encountered carrying holy water.

Encyclopedia entry

"We want a word with you," said Ligur (in a tone of voice
intended to imply that "word" was synonymous with "horrifically
painful eternity"), and the squat demon pushed open the office
The bucket teetered, then fell neatly on Ligur's head.
Drop a lump of sodium in water. Watch it flame and burn and
spin around crazily, flaring and sputtering. This was like
that, just nastier.
The demon peeled and flared and flickered. Oily brown smoke
oozed from it, and it screamed and it screamed and it screamed.
Then it crumpled, folded in on itself, and what was left lay
glistening on the burnt and blackened circle of carpet, looking
like a handful of mashed slugs.
"Hi," said Crowley to Hastur, who had been walking behind Ligur,
and had unfortunately not been so much as splashed.
There are some things that are unthinkable; there are some
depths that not even demons would believe other demons would
stoop to.
". . . Holy water. You bastard," said Hastur. "You complete
_bastard_. He hadn't never done nothing to _you_."
"Yet," corrected Crowley.

[ Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett ]

See also

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