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How To Make and Use Minecraft Portals

Updated on November 1, 2010
A portal appears in the dark minecraft nether.
A portal appears in the dark minecraft nether.

The Minecraft Halloween update has seen significant additions to the game, the most notable of these being a new dimension referred to poetically as the 'Nether'. In the nether, you will be assailed by fire breathing ghasts and potentially set upon by Zombie Pigmen, but it's all worth it if you're searching for yellow dust for lanterns, lava, red blocks or indeed rare Australium.

Reaching the Nether is not easy. In order to access this new dimension, you will need to create a portal. Portals are created by making a frame out of obsidian, a block only produced when spring water meets spring lava. Obsidian can easily be created in lava rich underground dungeons, but can only be mined with a diamond pickaxe.

The Nether is a dangerous world in many respects, but it is also useful for traveling long distances. Move one block in the Nether, and you've moved eight blocks in the world above. By using multiple portals, you can travel great distances more easily. (In theory at least, keep reading to discover why that might not work.)

How Do I Make A Portal Without A Diamond Pick Axe?

If you haven't found diamond yet, but really want to make a portal to the nether, you can do so by creating a frame out of glass and filling the frame with lava blocks. You then pour spring water onto the lava blocks, et viola, you have a portal.

What Size and Shape Makes A Minecraft Portal?

Minecraft portals are four blocks wide by five blocks tall, leaving a 2x1 space in the middle, which you must set on fire with a flint and iron fire starter. As soon as the flame hits the center of the portal, a purple hue will appear and your portal will begin working.

My Minecraft Portal Isn't Working, Why?

If you're simply running through your portal, you'll be disappointed to find that it doesn't work. You need to stand in the portal for a second or two to allow the portal to work.

I Portaled Out Of The Nether And Now I'm Lost!

Ah, now you have discovered the fun of minecraft portals. You see, in theory, you should be able to create a portal in the normal world, portal into the Nether and then leave again and find yourself outside the original portal. This rarely seems to happen. What seems to happen more often is that you portal into the Nether, then emerge in some apparently random place.

This is caused by the fact that the portal in the Nether created by your original portal often isn't where it really should be. Say you create a portal in the overworld, but the corresponding place in the Nether happens to be a lava pit. The game won't spawn you into the lava pit, instead it will move the portal in the Nether to a place that is safe. It then creates another portal in the overworld that corresponds to the position of the Nether portal. Thus you end up with three portals for the price of two, and miles away from home.

How to fix this? Bring a compass with you when you visit the Nether so you can find your way home again afterward if need be.

Can I Ride A Minecart Through A Minecraft Portal?

No. You'll end up embedded in the roof of the nether and dying a ridiculous death.

Can I Sail A Boat Through A Minecraft Portal?


What To Bring On A Trip To The Nether

Netherworld is dangerous, very dangerous, so leave your diamond tools behind at home if you don't want to risk losing them.

If possible, you might want to bring a supply of obsidian (or just some water, as lava is abundant in the underworld, though you will need that diamond pick axe to mine it out it.) The reason for obsidian is two fold. One, you can use it to make new portals if you want to start creating a portal network, and two, (perhaps more important) if you're playing with mobs on, ghasts can kill your portal. If you don't want to be stuck in the Nether, you'll need the ability to make a new portal, or relight your old one with a flint and iron fire starter.

A compass is absolutely essential in the nether. It won't work down there, but if you emerge in a completely random spot in the world, you'll be glad you have a compass to guide you back home.


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