For the sake of scope, we'll assume the warrior already have the potion in their hand.

Also for the sake of scope, we'll assume there's no magic to help a person drink faster. It all relies on technique.

In combat, time is everything. If two warriors fighting each other drink a healing potion, but one takes 1 second to chug down the liquid while the other takes 3, the slower one will probably not survive, all else being equal.

Potions are stored in ceramic or glass vials with a cork stopper, and are standardized to 100ml (3.38oz) of volume. Vials are on average 11cm (4 1/3in) tall (including the cork) and 44mm (1 3/4in) thick. There's 1 or 2 mm of difference in each direction but every potion has 100ml of liquid.

Some movements are obviously a waste of time. For example, spitting the cork before drinking. Some props may help move the liquid faster, like putting a straw (of the hollow drinking kind, not an actual piece of straw) inside the bottle but you waste time putting the straw inside. These are okay but anything that delays the consumption of the potion is undesirable.

Movements after the liquid has been imbibed are inconsequential. Tossing or dropping the vial, spitting the cork, or anything.

Swallowing the vial whole, while possible (though painful), is not effective. The liquid needs to be absorbed by the body. Eating the vial like Ben did in Epic NPC man might lead to further injury. Both actions are forbidden.

Furthermore, waste is a concern. Getting 100% of the potion inside the body is very important and letting it drip down the corners of your mouth is a waste.

What's the optimal technique to drink potions fast?

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Frat boys everywhere perk up, "I have prepared my whole life for this moment..." $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2022 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ If I'm imagining healing potions in otherwise realistic combat (including wounds instead of hit points)... Quaffing faster is going to be less important than not leaving yourself open to a killing thrust while tipping back the bottle. $\endgroup$
    – Jedediah
    Dec 14, 2022 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ In some game systems there is a check for drinking multiple potions within some short period to see if the potions interact strangely. Even drinking two servings of the same potion could in principle interact because the first one is partially absorbed when the second one arrives. Most times no special effect. Some times double effect. But sometimes harsh nasty effects such as exploding stomachs. $\endgroup$
    – Boba Fit
    Dec 14, 2022 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ Given all the constraints, I'm not really sure what an answer could say apart from "open the vial and pour the potion down your throat as quickly as possible while being careful not to spill any." $\endgroup$
    – N. Virgo
    Dec 15, 2022 at 5:54
  • $\begingroup$ why am I thinking of Jackie Chan's drunken fist movies? those are choreography but maybe you can think of it $\endgroup$
    – prout
    Dec 19, 2022 at 11:36

5 Answers 5


Huff potions


When people "smoke" or "vape" alcohol, they do so by heating it up or pouring it over dry ice... This makes a vapor that they inhale into their lungs. Inhaling alcohol vapor causes a rapid and intense "high." Absorption through the lungs provides almost instant delivery of the alcohol to the bloodstream and the brain; the effects are felt very quickly. Small amounts of inhaled alcohol may make a person much more intoxicated than drinking the alcohol instead.

The lungs have a huge surface area. Stuff that goes down into the lungs gets distributed over all that surface area. That area (the alveoli) is made for gas exhange but it also absorbs chemicals very well. The body is made to pull a large volume into the lungs very quickly - over a fraction of a second. This is inhaling.

Your potion huffers will quaff their drafts in a mighty huff. It will be absorbed and take effect almost instantaneously. Much faster than having the stomach roll stuff around until it decides to recruit the small bowel in the project. Even then only the fluids apposed to the absorptive surface get absorbed; the rest must wat their turn in the potion bolus. The lungs sidestep all that.

Some persons may fret that huffing potions is dangerous, or are afraid to huff potions, or that it is undignified, or worry their asthma will act up. These persons will be invited to join the Wuss Warrior Corps and drink their potions using a little teacup, pinky extended.


This is a frame challenge. As someone with some experience in hand-to-hand combat, both unarmed, lightly armed and wearing medieval battle gear, I can tell you that it doesn't matter how fast you drink a potion in combat.

You drink a potion before combat (think The Witcher), after combat to treat wounds, or in a combat pause (between assault waves or after you have retreated to the rear of your formation while your allies are covering you (in the military, we have the principle of first winning fire superiority, then getting the wounded comrade into cover, and then we take care of their wounds.))

In The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, it is said that whatever one does in combat, whether blocking, striking, dodging, or parrying, one must always remember that the goal is to cut the enemy. You are forgetting the goal of winning while focusing on how to drink a potion. Drinking a potion is supposedly meant to help you win; thus, getting skewered doing it is not desirable.

To illustrate how quickly you are gonna get skewered, take those two examples: A knife fighter can rush a gunman who has a gun in hand but is not ready to fire from distances up to 7 meters and will reliably get him with the knife before the gunman can get a shot off. My trainer once had me hold an airsoft pistol to his face. I was supposed to shoot him if he moved. Even when I later aimed at his center of mass, he always managed to punch the gun out of alignment before I could pull the trigger. This is what happens at hand-to-hand distances.

Close-quarters combat is more about the credible threat of violence than it is about the actual infliction of violence. You don't control the fight by punching your opponent, you control the space of possible moves by keeping up the threat of inflicting damage, forcing both sides to keep up a threatening and protective guard. Combat is a lot of posing, positioning, and guarding while both look for a weakness to exploit. At some point, short bursts of violence occur. Those may turn into prolonged affairs where physical contact can happen. This implies that one party is losing, and can't retreat or reposition itself. Neither of those states offers you any window for drinking a potion while you can hope to survive.

With all that in mind, the effects of the potions should be adapted to the realities of combat. You don't drink a healing potion once you are injured. You drink a quick clots potion (stops rapidly bleeding wounds from killing you) before the fight to make injuries survivable. If you need to drink a potion in combat, you call out to your allies to cover you, and you drink it while you are being covered. This already supposes a prolonged engagement, so the drinking time itself is irrelevant, as long as it is just a few seconds. You'll need more time to take a breath at that moment anyways.

  • $\begingroup$ Did your teach' really tried to make you learn you could fight gun wielding baddies? This looks like extremely dangerous in a real fight situation : Compared to experimental conditions, the shooter is in a generally overly aggressive stance, meaning that one could pull the trigger at the first itch or bad look. Not talking they wouldn't be standing right in your space if they know what "ranged" means ^^. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2022 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena The gun training was in a military close quarters combat course. The best defense against being threatened with a gun is to avoid being threatened by a gun in the first place. And yes, fighting a smart and competent opponent is very dangerous. But one should also know what to do if the situation has gone downhill. If you're about to be shot and pushed into a mass grave you might as well try to go for it. Worst case you get to go to Valhalla. And who knows, you might get yourself an honour guard going there or you could even get out of there. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2022 at 19:57

Hydration pack

How many potion types would you need in combat? If just one or two, you can go with large "potion skin" or two somewhere under your armor with tubes extending to your mouth. A spring valve on air intake will ensure potions will not spill until swigged, or you can just squeeze it with your hand and potion will flow in your mouth. You won't even need to take off your helmet!

Need more? Put some of the less used potions in edible "flasks". Animal guts and beeswax instead of ceramics and cork, and you can throw "flasks" in your mouth and chew them while swinging your sword. If it doesn't seem edible enough, you can spit out the remains later. Add sponges to these flasks, so that even pierced ones will still hold some liquid inside.


Enema bag with hose:

Yes, crude. But the Mayans had only brewed beverages, and liked to get rip-roaring drunk. So - you guessed it - they would give themselves alcohol enemas to speed up drinking. The colon also allows more rapid absorption of alcohol.

Have a system set up so the warrior squeezes something (bag strapped to the body?) full of healing elixir. Arranged right, they wouldn't need to let down their guard, possibly not need to pause, and they could likely avoid their opponent even knowing they were potioning.

If the potions must be in the vials, then use a case filled with such vials. Each has a fragile neck that cracks when the case is used. Then the potion pours down and gravity does most of the work. A bladder may provide pressure to force the contents through the tube rapidly.

This would require prep, since you couldn't set this up in the middle of a fight. A bladder with a belt around it could allow a simple tug on a chord to deliver a dose. Depending on the game mechanics, you might even get something that keeps dripping the potion in in a slow trickle throughout the fight.

  • $\begingroup$ This system seems difficult to keep in place during intense combat and a [insert obvious pun] to fix if something goes wrong. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2022 at 13:36

Tofu Sponge

Change the vessel to a tofu sponge. It can absorb liquid easily (I don't know if it can do upto 100ml though, maybe you can figure it out with its size). The thing is edible; so, you can mass-produce it with the liquid already absorbed into the sponge to be in combat-ready state. If you want to just have the tofu without liquid in there all the time, it is still okay. You can prepare whatever liquid before the combat.

To consume it, assuming that

the warrior already have the potion in their hand.

in this case, the tofu. The warrior can just put it in the mouth and chew it, or even swallow it whole. It's soft anyway. The liquid will get into the body without dripping (chew with close mouth).


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