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In the case of the Wicked Witch she has not only magical powers but is extremely different "biologically" than a human or indeed any mortal creature -- melting due to having water thrown on her is the only example I can think of but that is enough.

Is it explained in any Oz book what the nature of witches is? I note that Baum has Santa Claus being a human who was given the gift of immortality -- perhaps witches start out as human?

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Worth noting that the scene of throwing water on the witch doesn't play out just this way in the original book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

In the book, the Witch had held Dorothy captive and enslaved for some time, and via an iron bar made invisible by magic and placed where Dorothy would trip on it, she'd managed to get one of the Ruby Slippers off Dorothy's foot.

The water that was thrown on her wasn't a fire bucket, trying to put out the Scarecrow, but instead was the mop bucket Doroty was using to clean the Witch's filthy kitchen, and the explanation given in the book was that the Witch had been so wicked for so long that she'd dried up inside, like a walking pillar of salt, so that the thrown wash water just dissolved her (no "Melting, melting!" scene as she went).

Given that, in the books, everyone in Oz is immortal (no one can die in Oz, even if they're chopped up like Nick Chopper and Captain Fyter, with their amputated parts glued together to make Chopfyt), "given the gift of immortality" doesn't really apply in Oz -- but the Wicked Witches had suffered the side effects of their own wicked magic for a long, long time; hence why East just shriveled up leaving the Slippers empty after Dorothy's house landed on her, and why West melted when the bucket of mop water was thrown.

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    i keep running into the limitations of my education -- i come from a poor family -- i guess without a degree i will never understand this science stuff.
    – releseabe
    Nov 30, 2022 at 14:58
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    @releseabe: There ain't no science involved. Just fantasy.
    – JRE
    Nov 30, 2022 at 15:24
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    The book does say that all her blood had dried up years before, but it doesn't give that as the explanation for why she melted - it doesn't really give any explanation for the melting. Just that presumably the witch knew water would end her, as she never touched it and was deathly afraid of it (and also deathly afraid of the dark).
    – Showsni
    Nov 30, 2022 at 18:31
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    What are these "ruby slippers" you speak of? L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz has silver slippers.
    – Lexible
    Nov 30, 2022 at 21:51
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    @releseabe Fortunately, the Wizard of Oz (the book) is public domain. So you can read the full book yourself. gutenberg.org/files/55/55-h/55-h.htm
    – trlkly
    Nov 30, 2022 at 22:28

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