Potion of unholy water

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

A potion of unholy water (unidentified, a "cursed clear potion" if BUC is known) is the cursed version of the potion of water; it has the inverse effect of holy water:

  • Dip a blessed object into unholy water to make it uncursed.
  • Dip an uncursed object into unholy water to make it cursed.
  • Dip a cursed object into unholy water, and you get message "Interesting..."; the potion is not consumed.

Thus, using the #dip command together with unholy water allows you to make cursed objects.

Quaffing a potion of unholy water will polymorph you into your wereform if you have lycanthropy. Additionally, chaotic characters (or ones polymorphed into a demon or undead) heal 2d6 HP and exercise constitution, lawful characters take 2d6 damage instead, and neutral characters just abuse their constitution.

Possible uses

In general, unholy water is only useful for making cursed objects. An exception might be for intentionally healing a demon, undead, or lycanthrope, such as a pet, or a chaotic player. Although the vast majority of objects in the game are better when they are not cursed, there are some exceptions to this rule, and it is these exceptions that are of interest here.

  • Cursed scrolls of teleportation allow a player to level teleport, which is often more useful than normal teleportation. Confused non-cursed scrolls also provide this, but confusion will likely negate the effect of teleport control unless you have high Luck.
  • Cursed scrolls of genocide allow a player to summon a number of monsters of his/her choice, which is occasionally useful (see reverse genocide).
  • Cursed scrolls of destroy armor can produce fooproof armor.
  • Cursed scrolls of gold detection can detect traps or magic portals. Note you can also get this effect from confused non-cursed gold detection, and the traps will not show up as gold.
  • Cursed scrolls of enchant armor or scrolls of enchant weapon can lower the enchantment level of armor or weapons. This is occasionally useful if you want to (for example) raise a weapon's enchantment from +6 to +7, since the only safe way to do so requires first lowering the enchantment to +5. However, in most cases the best way to lower enchantments is to use #engraving or drain life.
  • Cursed potions of gain level allow you to ascend dungeon levels.
  • Cursed potions of acid do more damage when thrown.
  • Cursed scrolls of create monster will create many more monsters (or acid blobs), useful for sacrifice.
  • Cursed scrolls of confuse monster will confuse you. Combined with a non-cursed scroll of gold detection, this is the safest way to detect the endgame portals.
  • Pets will not pick up cursed items and will avoid walking over squares containing cursed items. A stack of darts, arrows, or rocks can be cursed and used to activate many Elbereth squares without the risk of a pet picking up the item or smudging the engraving. This can also be used to temporarily block your pet from entering an area, e.g. out of Sokoban pits, or to protect a shopkeeper or priest from a strong pet. If only a single square needs to be blocked off then the potion of unholy water itself can be used.
    • Note that pets will sometimes move "reluctantly" over cursed items anyway. Worse, if some suitable food happen to appear in the same square of those cursed objects, pets will make a beeline for them, disregarding any cursed objects on those squares. Therefore, if cursed objects are to be used for blockading it may be best to drop multiple cursed objects in such a manner that a pet must pass through multiple cursed item squares to get past the blockade.
  • A cursed unicorn horn is an unlimited (albeit dangerous) source of confusion for illiterates and polyselfless speed runners. Forgotten spells are better for everyone else.
  • The cursed Book of the Dead can level up pet purple worms pretty fast.

Obtaining unholy water

One way is to grab it from a bones pile: it is likely that water dropped from a previous player will be cursed, and thus unholy. Bones containing dead priest(esse)s are especially good sources, as their starting potions of holy water might have become unholy.

With that first potion, it is easy to make more unholy water by dipping a stack of a few uncursed potions of water into unholy water.

The safest way is to read a blessed scroll of remove curse while confused, which has a 25% chance of either blessing or cursing the uncursed items in your inventory, and hope that this curses some potions of water. To avoid accidentally cursing useful items, either drop all uncursed items you do not wish to make cursed or read a second blessed scroll of remove curse after dropping all unholy water. To increase your chances of getting unholy water, have many potions of water and individual-name each one with a different name so that they don't stack. This method has the added benefit of potentially created holy water, which is also useful.

Another method is to dip a BUC-identified potion into a fountain repeatedly. There is a chance that the (resulting) potion of water will get cursed. You don't get a message, so check it after each dip. Be prepared for the monsters this can summon.

Praying at an altar not of your alignment outside Gehennom with potions of water on the altar will make unholy water, but this will anger your god with the usual consequences(at a minimum, losing any "purchased" divine protections). You can offset the anger point in a number of ways, such as by sacrificing a former pet on the cross-aligned altar (this neither converts the altar nor consumes the corpse nor angers a tending priest, but has its own disadvantages), but you will still have suffered the loss of any divine protection in addition to the harmful effects of being smitten.

Yet another way is to wish for cursed potions of water.

Diluting Unholy Water

Unlike most cursed potions, dipping unholy water will not cause it to dilute and lose its cursed status (becoming an ordinary potion of water). Cancellation will result in uncursed potion(s) of water, as will dipping a stack of unholy water into a potion of holy water (but this consumes the holy water).


In slash'em there is an additional way of obtaining unholy water, with shopkeeper services. While confused, use the uncursing service on a potion of water. "You accidentally ask for the item to be cursed!" and the shopkeeper will curse your potion of water.

Also, damage/healing from drinking the potion is increased to 6d6, making unholy water about as effective as potion of healing if you're chaotic.

See Also

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.