24

'Therefore, Voldemort would be entirely dependent on the Elixir, and if it ran out, or was contaminated, or if the Stone was stolen, he would die just like any other man.'

–Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 23

As said in the quote, if the Elixir is contaminated/defiled or the is Stone stolen, and a dependent user isn't able to drink from it: he will die.

To elaborate, I mean that; if someone takes the Elixir on a certain day, and his supply for the next drink is contaminated, they will be a certain timespan that the body goes without the Elixir until he dies. What exactly is this timespan? (A day, a week, a fortnight..?)

So, how often does one have to drink the Elixir of Life to sustain their life?

26

It is not clear from the book how much and how often exactly does one need to take the Elixir to extend life.

From "Harry Potter and The Sorcerer Stone", chapter 17

[Dumbledore to Harry:] Well, Nicolas and I have had a little chat, and agreed it’s all for the best.”

“But that means he and his wife will die, won’t they?”

“They have enough Elixir stored to set their affairs in order and then, yes, they will die.”

  • 3
    Is it again a 'JKR bad at maths' situation? – TimSparrow May 17 '17 at 15:53
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    Er, no? JKR being bad at maths doesn't really seem relevant here. There's no information, so there's nothing to be inconsistent. – Anthony Grist May 17 '17 at 15:56
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    @TimSparrow no it's a "JKR didn't think anything through when writing the books" situation – caird coinheringaahing May 17 '17 at 20:53
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    @Satan'sSon, no, I disagree. The books are well-thought through. But for a person not good with maths, JKR just did not add numbers to it, unless absolutely necessary. – TimSparrow May 18 '17 at 9:11
  • As often as the joints started squeaking :). – Pysis May 18 '17 at 18:58
21

Based purely on canon information, we have no way to tell.

Following the first book, Nicholas Flamel is not mentioned again, so we have no way to tell if he died days, weeks, months, or years after the stone was destroyed. We don't know for sure if he died the day he ran out of stored elixir, or if he simply began aging again and lived out a normal lifespan afterwards.

The implications given by reading the first book are that the Elixir needs to be consumed regularly, and that if you consume it you must continue indefinitely to continue living. It is implied that, lacking Elixir, a drinker will die in short order (days or weeks, at most).

But all of this is only implied, not outright stated, and even if it were outright stated, we couldn't take it as granted.

Most of the information Harry gains about the Stone and the Elixir comes from a pair of simple references in library books (stating that Flamel created a Stone, and that it produces the Elixir of Life) and what he is told by Hermione and Dumbledore.

Hermione, a Muggleborn, only knows what she could learn from published books. She has no sources of rare or exclusive knowledge, as she is limited to what is publicly available in the Hogwarts Library (not even the Restricted Section) and booksellers like Flourish & Blotts. Obviously, public information about the Stone and its capabilities (and limitations) would be possible to be misleading or flat-out wrong: Flamel and his wife have a vested interest in keeping their Stone's capabilities secret and the weaknesses (if any) of their immortality unknown.

Dumbledore, as an alchemist of note and a personal friend of Flamel's, obviously knows more. That said, Flamel is famously against sharing information about the Stone. Dumbledore has been repeatedly shown to be willing to keep secrets for others, especially when they are important secrets. He is also known to lie to Harry on occasion or to withhold critical information. This is especially true in the first book.

Thus, not only do we NOT know for sure how the Elixir works, we cannot even be certain that the information we DO have about the Stone is accurate in anything but the broadest of strokes.

  • 5
    JK said on Pottermore that Flamel dies just before Book 6 starts, meaning Flamel (and presumably his wife) lives for about ~4 years after he runs out of elixir. However, this doesn't help us any, because we don't know how much elixir he had left, and no way of even remotely guessing either how much of a dose one needs to sustain their life or indeed how often that dose should be taken. – DisturbedNeo May 17 '17 at 15:27
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    @DisturbedNeo: I just checked, and that writing seems to be gone from the 'new' and worse version of Pottermore. The current version doesn't seem to have much on Flamel or the Stone, and nothing on the Elixer. If it were still up, that information would likely be canon though, since it is WoG. – Jeff May 17 '17 at 15:50
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    This answer is kind of weird to me. It sounds like if a healthy 25 year old were to start taking the Elixir of Life, and then suddenly stopped after a few years, then they'd die. Does the elixir now make the user dependent on it for survival? The impression I got from Flamel is that he was using the elixir to extend his life beyond his terminal condition: old age. – Ellesedil May 17 '17 at 19:31
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    @Ellesedil Possibly, although what would make more sense is that the elixir holds off whatever is preventing one from dying. At over 600 years old, one has already used up whatever natural life one had, and it is only the elixir that is preventing death. Whereas at 25, unless one's body had some issue that was about to cause premature death, presumably not drinking the elixir wouldn't lead to a soon demise. – user11521 May 17 '17 at 20:07
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    In the end it is all dependent on how much you can store of the elixir, isn't it? Even if you have to drink a pint a day, if you can store thousands of gallons you can live for a long time. During the book "HP and the Philosopher's Stone" the stone is also not in Mr and Mrs Flamel's possession for months yet they are still alive at the end of the book - which suggests that the elixir keeps a while. – Ned64 May 18 '17 at 9:38
17

Four years minus the amount of time it takes to set one's affairs on order.

Well we can put an upper bound on this at about four years:

The stone got destroyed in June 1992, and Flamel died sometime before September of 1996.

Rumour: Nicolas Flamel is going to come to Hogwarts to teach potions [in book 6]

JKR: Flamel has now died; Dumbledore explained in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that his old friend was going to choose death rather than allow his stone to fall into the wrong hands.

The old jkrowling.com - Rumours (May 13th 2005)

The actual length would probably be considerably shorter, as the Flamels had enough Elixir stored up to "set their affairs in order".

‘Oh, you know about Nicolas?’ said Dumbledore, sounding quite delighted. ‘You did do the thing properly, didn’t you? Well, Nicolas and I have had a little chat and agreed it’s all for the best.’

‘But that means he and his wife will die, won’t they?’

‘They have enough Elixir stored to set their affairs in order and then, yes, they will die.’

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Chapter 17 (Text freely available on Pottermore)

So,

enter image description here

Of course Rowling later pretended she never said anything about Flamel's death, so maybe this is all irrelevant.

  • 4
    She didn't say he was still alive after the books ended, but she did say he never died IN THE BOOKS. That doesn't preclude him dying offscreen. We can now say he was likely dead before September of the 6th book (1996). This doesn't preclude him dying in late 1992 (within months of the end of Book 1), but it does put an upper bound on the time between elixer consumption. – Jeff May 17 '17 at 17:31
  • @ibid Sorry, I misread it. You're correct. – Andrew Piliser May 18 '17 at 22:51
  • I don't understand why there is a minus sign? Why does the one quantity get subtracted from the other? – stannius May 30 '18 at 2:09
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    @stannius - We're calculating how long one can live without taking the elixir. One quantity is (the upper bound of) how much longer he lived and the other is for how much of that time he was still taking saved elixir. – ibid May 30 '18 at 9:30
3

The known time span that the author tells readers is regularly enough. I agree with the other answers posted before me that the exact time span is never said, but a quote in The Half-Blood Prince gives a good answer for this,

"Well, we know that he tried to do just that, five years ago," said Dumbledore. "But here are several reasons why, I think, and Sorcerer's Stone would appear less than horcruxes to Lord Voldemort. "While the Elixir of Life does indeed extend life, it must be drunk regularly, for all eternity, if the drinker is to maintain their immortality."

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince

Coming from Dumbledore who is a friend of Flamel and so, is familiar with the Stone as he helps his friend Flamel in the alchemy subject.

1

The actual time is not made clear. Using the death of Nicolas Flamel has the problem that it is never mentioned how much elixir was left (with the vagueness of Dumbledore it is likely that it was done on purpose) so, the strength and duration can't be known. It is possible that the elixir only works while the magic from it is active or that it makes the drinker younger such that after the magic wears off they stay younger and age normally. Either way it is safe to say the user has until the effects of the previous dosage wear off, so not everyday (Nicolas Flamel went without the stone for an extended period of time).

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