Potion of oil

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! Pink potion.png
Name oil
Appearance random
Base price 250 zm
Weight 20
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

A potion of oil is the only potion that can be lit for an extended period of time. It has numerous other uses.


Attempts to use a cursed potion of oil can cause the oil to spill over your fingers, making them slippery. If this happens in a shop and causes you to drop your weapon, the shopkeeper will consider your weapon his newfound property. This is another reason not to apply potions in shops. Applying a towel cleans your hands and removes this effect.


Quaffing a potion of oil is not useful and usually abuses your wisdom.

Squeaky boards

A potion of oil can untrap a squeaky board, similar to a can of grease.

Lit potions

You can light the oil by applying the potion, and snuff it out by applying it again. A lit potion of oil can be thrown at an enemy to explode for 4d4 fire damage or thrown up to cause fire damage to yourself, removing slime; no damage is incurred if unlit. Quaffing a lit potion of oil deals 3d4 fire damage (1d4 if fire resistant) and abuses wisdom. However, if you are polymorphed into a monster that likes fire, you instead exercise wisdom and take no damage. Monsters that like fire include fire vortices, flaming spheres, salamanders, and fire elementals.

Dipping into a lit potion of oil will burn the dipped item (if appropriate), using up the potion whether the item was burned or not. This can be used to identify scrolls of fire and spellbooks of fireball (which won't burn up, unlike other scrolls and spellbooks) or formally identify fireproofing. It is a relatively wasteful way to do either, though, since the potion will disappear and items which are not fireproof will be damaged or destroyed.

Fixing damaged weapons

Oil can also be used to fix damaged weapons. By dipping a rusty or corroded weapon into a non-cursed potion of oil, it loses one measure of erosion. To completely repair a thoroughly corroded weapon, you thus need three potions of oil: from thoroughly corroded to very corroded to corroded to uncorroded. Oil does not repair rotted or burnt weapons, nor does it repair damaged armor.

Refilling lamps

An empty oil lamp can be refilled by dipping it in a potion of oil. However, if you attempt to do this while either the lamp or potion is lit, the potion will be wasted. (If the lamp is lit and the potion is not, the potion will explode!) Magic lamps behave just like oil lamps in this respect, so you can't identify them with oil.


Identifying a potion of oil is easy: just try to apply every new potion you find. If the potion lights, it auto-identifies as oil. Do not do this when the potion is owned by a shop, or you will be forced to pay for the potion and will be charged Yendorian Fuel Tax.

If you start the game with an oil lamp, potions of oil are already identified for you.

Dipping a unicorn horn into a potion of oil gives the horn an "oily sheen", which identifies and uses up the potion but has no further effects.


Ahh, a refreshing drink.
You drank a lit potion of oil, and you are polymorphed into a monster that likes fire.
This tastes like castor oil.
You drank a cursed potion of oil.
That was smooth!
You drank a non-cursed potion of oil.



In SLASH'EM, it is possible to disarm a fire trap with a non-cursed potion of water, similar to using a potion of oil on a squeaky board. This will also generate 1–4 potions of oil based on Luck. Since oil can then be diluted back to water, the large number of fire traps in Gehennom offer an effective way of multiplying one's water potions.

Slash'EM Extended

Diluting a potion of oil in a pool will summon the Keystone Kops.


In previous versions of NetHack, it was possible to indirectly identify the potion without actually applying it (and therefore avoiding payment in shops) by dropping everything else that could be applied, then hitting a. If the potion was a potion of oil, the player was asked what they wanted to apply; otherwise they would be told they have nothing that can be applied. This is no longer true since NetHack 3.6.0, which now always shows the applying prompt as long as the player has at least one potion in their inventory, regardless of whether it can be applied or not.

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

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 the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.