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What is in Polyjuice Potion?

Polyjuice Potion is a magical brew that allows the drinker to temporarily take on the form of someone else. It is an incredibly complex and difficult potion to create, requiring a high level of skill in Potions. The main use of the Polyjuice Potion is for infiltration, disguise, and deception. When consumed, it allows the drinker to physically transform into another person for a limited period of time.


In the Harry Potter universe, Polyjuice Potion first appears in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It allows Harry Potter and Ron Weasley to disguise themselves as Draco Malfoy’s cronies Crabbe and Goyle. This enables them to question Malfoy about the opening of the Chamber of Secrets. The potion proves vital in several other situations in the novels as well.

Polyjuice Potion is incredibly tricky to make. The ingredients are rare and the brewing process complex. The potioner must pay meticulous attention to detail for the potion to work correctly. If not done properly, the results can be disastrous and potentially deadly. But when brewed correctly, Polyjuice allows the drinker to transform temporarily into the physical form of another human.


Polyjuice Potion has only a few key ingredients, but they are challenging to obtain:

  • Lacewing flies (stewed for 21 days)
  • Leeches
  • Powdered bicorn horn
  • Knotgrass
  • Fluxweed (picked at full moon)
  • Shredded Boomslang skin
  • A bit of the person one wants to turn into (hair, nail, etc)

The lacewing flies must be stewed for 21 days before being added, meaning the potion takes a minimum of 21 days to brew. The fluxweed must be picked at the full moon. The boomslang skin and bicorn horn are tricky ingredients to source.

But the most critical ingredient is a bit of the person the drinker wants to transform into. This can be hair, toenail clippings, or some other part of their body. Adding this bit of the person at the end is what allows the drinker to transform into that person. Without it, the potion is useless.

Brewing Process

Brewing Polyjuice Potion is incredibly difficult and complex. The instructions can be found in the textbook Moste Potente Potions. Here are the general steps:

  1. Add lacewing flies to the cauldron and stew for 21 days
  2. Add the leeches, powdered bicorn horn, and knotgrass
  3. Heat for 7 days at a low temperature
  4. Add the stewed lacewings and boil
  5. On the full moon, pick and add fluxweed
  6. Stir vigorously
  7. Chop and add the boomslang skin and dissolve
  8. Lower heat and simmer for 7 days
  9. Add bit of the person to transform into
  10. Drink immediately

As you can see, Polyjuice is incredibly time consuming and meticulous to brew. The ingredients must be prepared perfectly and added at exactly the right times. The fluxweed can only be added on the full moon, meaning the brewer must plan the timing of the potion exactly around the lunar cycle. The low heating temperatures and long stewing times also demand patience and care.

Transformation Process

Once correctly brewed, drinking Polyjuice Potion causes a painful physical transformation into the other person. Here is the transformation process:

  1. Pain and bubbling sensation across skin
  2. Alteration of voice to match person
  3. Morphing of features into person’s appearance
  4. Adjusting of height and weight
  5. Final settling into new form

The transformation is said to be incredibly uncomfortable and painful. The drinker experiences bubbling and burning across their skin as they morph into the new form. All aspects of their body, including voice and eyesight, adjust to match the person.

The effects of Polyjuice last about an hour, after which the drinker slowly morphs back into their original form. The transformation back is also uncomfortable. The potion cannot be taken indefinitely to stay in the new form. It can only be used for a temporary disguise.

What Happens If Done Improperly

As noted above, brewing Polyjuice Potion improperly can have serious consequences. Here are some examples:

  • Using animal parts – can result in partial transformation into the animal, such as growing extra body parts
  • Missing ingredients – will not work and no transformation will occur
  • Wrong ingredient amounts – may cause violent illness and toxic side effects
  • Skipping steps – can make the potion painful and unsafe to drink

The worst example is when Hermione accidentally uses a cat hair in the potion, instead of human hair. This causes her to partially transform into a cat. She ends up in the hospital wing for several weeks with a tail, cat ears, and other features that need to be treated.

This demonstrates why proper brewing is essential. The potion relies on exact steps and ingredients to induce temporary, safe transformation. Anything less can risk permanent disfigurement or worse.

Other Uses

While Polyjuice is most commonly used for disguise and impersonation, it does have some other potential uses, including:

  • Infiltration – To sneak into enemy territory or restricted areas by impersonating authorized people
  • Interrogation – Questioning disguised as the target’s allies to gain information
  • Romance – Possibly initiating romance while disguised as someone’s ideal partner
  • Theft – Stealing restricted items while appearing to be allowed access
  • Sabotage – Causing damage discretely while in disguise

These types of uses certainly raise ethical questions about consent and intentional deception. But Polyjuice does offer powerful potential advantages in intelligence gathering, war efforts, criminal enterprises, and more – which is likely why it is so tightly controlled in the wizarding world.

Famous Examples from Harry Potter

Polyjuice Potion plays important roles throughout the Harry Potter series. Here are some of the most significant examples:

  • Hermione brews it in Chamber of Secrets – Allows Harry/Ron to question Draco Malfoy
  • Crouch disguises as Moody – Crouch Jr. impersonates Moody all year to manipulate Harry
  • Hermione uses it to infiltrate the Ministry – In Deathly Hallows when infiltrating to find the locket Horcrux
  • The Seven Potters – Used to disguise 6 others as Harry to escape the Dursleys’ house

These examples demonstrate Polyjuice’s power to infiltrate high security areas, harvest secret information, avoid capture, and more. It plays a pivotal role in the series and highlights the potion’s unique magical properties.

Character Disguised As Purpose
Harry and Ron Crabbe and Goyle Question Draco Malfoy
Barty Crouch Jr. Alastor Moody Manipulate Harry Potter
Hermione Granger Ministry employee Infiltrate Ministry of Magic

This table summarizes some of the most important Polyjuice uses in the books, who drank it, and why they used the disguise.


Polyjuice Potion is one of the most intriguing, useful, and dangerous potions in the wizarding world. With the ability to temporarily transform into another human, it offers astounding potential for disguise, deception, and infiltration. However, brewing it correctly requires meticulous skill, hard-to-find ingredients, and weeks of preparation. When mishandled, the results can be dire and even deadly.

Throughout the Harry Potter series, Polyjuice facilitates pivotal plot points and reveals its massive power “for good or for bad.” It adds layers of deception and intrigue to the wizarding world. While the ethics of using disguises for nefarious purposes is questionable, Polyjuice remains a fascinating concoction that embodies the complexity of magic.

So in summary, Polyjuice Potion allows temporary transformation into another person. But its tricky brewing process and painful transformations also make it dangerous and difficult to create properly. When used well, it can be a powerful tool for disguise and deception in the wizarding world.