Potions identification can be usually made by tasting a bit of a potion and the drinker can fully know the properties of the potion. However it's not rational to be able to tell the properties of a non-edible potion like "Oil of Sharpness" that is supposed to be applied on a weapon in order to work.

So I'm asking, how is one supposed to quickly understand the properties of said type of potion? I know that maintaining focus in a short rest is a possible way to find the properties, but trying to see if anyone else has a quicker way of identification similar to that of tasting a potion.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ If, upon drinking the potion, you immediately cast cutting words, then it must be an oil of sharpness. All kidding aside, are you asking as a player or as a DM? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 22 '19 at 0:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes you need an expert opinion, there may not be a quicker way than that. \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Nov 22 '19 at 8:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am asking as a DM. \$\endgroup\$ – Drunken Commoner Nov 22 '19 at 15:15


You choose one object that you must touch throughout the casting of the spell. If it is a magic item or some other magic-imbued object, you learn its properties and how to use them, whether it requires attunement to use, and how many charges it has, if any.

Identifying a Magic Item (DMG p. 175)

The identify spell is the fastest way to reveal an item's properties. Alternatively, a character can focus on one magic item during a short rest, while being in physical contact with the item. At the end of the rest, the character learns the item's properties, as well as how to use them. Potions are an exception; a little taste is enough to tell the taster what the potion does.

Oil is not a potion so tasting it just tells you it's oily.

Wearing or experimenting with an item can also offer hints about its properties.

Smearing a bit on your sword and seeing if it's sharper may work.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Smearing a bit on the sword can do the trick but how does one try the "smear on my sword" option? It could be anything, where one starts to test things out? Maybe he'll end up testing so many things that the potion would already be too little for the actual effect to take place when he wants to actually use it. \$\endgroup\$ – Drunken Commoner Nov 22 '19 at 15:16

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