Reading some of the questions on the Elder Wand (in particular this one), I got to wondering why Harry chose such silly and easily reversible methods of discarding the Elder Wand as putting it in Dumbledore’s grave (books) or throwing it in the lake (movie—that is what he does in the movie, right?).

The obvious thing to do would, it struck me, be to light a match and simply burn the damn thing. I mean, it’s made of wood and a hair from the tail of a Thestral, so it should burn just fine, right?

But then, with all the minor and major fires and explosions and singeings that occur throughout the book (even Fiendfyre), we never hear of anyone’s wand catching fire. This might just possibly imply that wands in general have some kind of anti-fire protection built in… or it may be a coincidence.

Does any canon source ever tell us if wands in general can catch fire? And whether the Elder Wand in specific can?

(And if yes, would it really be so hard to have Harry not be too thick-headed to realise this and just torch the bloody Elder Wand already? I refuse to believe the only reason he didn’t was because Rowling didn’t want him to be seen as a bad teen role model, lighting up a Deathstick.)

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    There is good reason to suppose that the Elder Wand is highly resistant to damage. It must have been 700 years old at the beginning of the series, and had been carried around by wizards throughout that period, not ensconced in a case, yet remained intact. Further, the Invisibility Cloak had similar protections (never ripping or tearing), and its provenance was similar. Even Voldemort's Horcruxes could not be destroyed by normal means. Finally, the magic that Dumbledore used on the ring Horcrux left its Hallows magic unaltered.
    – Adamant
    Feb 28, 2016 at 9:00
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    Actually, in the movie Harry snapped the wand in half before throwing it in the lake. But indeed, that Harry (and more importantly, Dumbledore) never sought to destroy the Wand is itself good evidence that it cannot easily be damaged. I would also note that putting the Wand in Dumbledore's tomb is quite safe. The true protection on the wand is Harry himself: only if he were properly overpowered by someone else, and his wand taken, would the wand switch allegiance. Merely snatching the wand from Dumbledore's tomb would do absolutely nothing (as indeed was the case for Voldemort).
    – Adamant
    Feb 28, 2016 at 9:04
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    other than being sort of quasi sentient a wand physically itself doesn't seem different from any other piece of stick (as it is easily broken by physical force), so yes, they should be burnable
    – user13267
    Feb 28, 2016 at 12:52
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    @Jonah, so an even more surefire way to destroy the Elder Wand would be for Harry to off himself? So that no one owned it? Feb 28, 2016 at 13:27
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    @Jonah You could argue that Harry being able to snap the wand in half (in the movie, at least, which I know doesn’t really count) is even better evidence that it can be quite easily damaged. Whether that extends to fire is a different matter. I don’t think Harry is that much protection—just Expelliarmus him and boom, the Elder Wand is yours. And as we know, a powerful enough wand can fix a snapped wand, even in the hands of a mediocre wizard (Harry); if someone who equalled Dumbledore or Voldemort came along, even with a regular wand, they might well still be able to fix the Elder Wand… Feb 28, 2016 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


According to Dumbledore's own notes in The Tales of Beedle The Bard, most wands are buried "or burned" with their owners (page 102 UK version).

The general practice of burying (or burning) the wand with its owner, once he or she has died, also tends to prevent any individual wand learning from too many masters.

They must be resistant to the fire they create (as are many Muggle gadgets) but they must also be subject to burning if set on fire.

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    Glad/surprised there is a canon answer
    – AncientSwordRage
    Feb 28, 2016 at 8:25
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    @JanusBahsJacquet - My two cents on this is that it actually isn't that special. As Dumbledore pointed out, it is said to be unbeatable, but has had a great number of owners and therefore switched allegiance many times. In order for that to happen, it needs to be beaten in a duel. So unbeatable wand? Nope! I do think its age and number of powerful owners meant that it was both powerful and somewhat aggressive by now, but not strangely indestructible. And I think Harry buried it out of respect for Dumbledore and his own wand, and the filmmakers had him break it to end the films smoothly.
    – ThruGog
    Feb 28, 2016 at 15:40
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    Well, it doesn’t need to be beaten in a duel (first owner got his throat slit in his sleep, Draco disarmed Dumbledore, Harry wrestled a different wand out of his hands, etc.), but it has been definitely shown to be beaten on several occasions, yes. I was more thinking about Jonah’s initial point: we see examples of older wands (like Ron’s first hand-me-down one) looking quite worn and the worse for wear, but the Elder Wand is centuries old and isn’t described as looking worn; so it’s logical enough to imagine that it has some extra protective spells (vel sim) compared to regular wands. Feb 28, 2016 at 15:45
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    That could also be. We all know how fond Cedric was of polishing his wand—that could well be a general pastime of lonesome wizards. (*snigger*) Feb 28, 2016 at 15:54
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    Cedric Diggory and the Over-Polished Wand. Fanfic anyone?
    – ThruGog
    Feb 28, 2016 at 16:02

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