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Iocane Powder The Princess Bride Facts and Quotes

All about the fictional Princess Bride iocane powder with facts and quotes. You'll discover all you ever wanted to know about this famous fictional poison here including facts, quotes, video clips and more.

Are you as fascinated as I am in knowing more about the fictional poison called iocane powder that features in The Princess Bride movie? It's not even real although William Goldman made it sound very convincing as a name for a toxin. From the book, we see it is spelled as 'iocane' and not 'iocaine' powder.

Iocane powder was used by The Princess Bride hero Westley AKA the Man in Black and also Dread Pirate Roberts in his well-loved Battle of Wits with the criminal mastermind Vizzini. Want to read more? As you wish!



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Is Iocane Powder Real and More Facts on Iocane: The Princess Bride Poison of Choice

does iocane powder exist and other princess bride facts on this battle of wits topic

Image Credit: Original image shared by qimomo on Pixabay with a CC License

  • This Princess Bride poison is purely fictional. William Goldman, the author, did a really great job in making people believe that it might actually be a real toxin. However, it is not real and does not actually exist.
  • It is spelled iocane powder and not iocaine powder. This spelling comes from the book version written by William Goldman.
  • The powder has no smell or scent to it. It is odorless.
  • It also has no taste. Unlike some toxins which are bitter and need to have the flavor masked, this apparently can't be detected when it is put in the mouth.


  • The powder dissolves immediately when applied to any liquid substance. It is soluble and can easily be added to any drink. No one would know it is there because there are no visible signs.
  • It is one of the most deadly (fictional) poisons. Seeing that it can easily be added to liquids without being detected by either sight, smell or taste, I should think that does indeed make it pretty deadly.
  • It is said to originate from Australia. The author, William Goldman, cleverly introduces an origin concept for it, which helps to make it feel more realistic for fans of The Princess Bride book and movie.
  • Westley spent a few years building up an immunity to iocane powder. Westley is otherwise known as The Man in Black and The Dread Pirate Roberts: whichever you prefer for the former farm boy.

The Amazing Princess Bride Poison Scene

The Princess Bride Battle of Wits Scene from the Movie.

Who are the Battle of Wits Actors?

Wallace Shawn, Wallace Michael Shawn, is an American actor who played the part of the hilariously obnoxious character called Vizzini. I remember watching a clip where Wallace said that he had no sense of humor.

Ironically Wallace was doing his best to portay the part of Vizzini for laughs when he himself didn't actually get the wackiness of it. That just makes his role even better because Vizzini was so well acted. I think that Wallace has to be given credit for portraying one of the best ever fictional deaths!

PRINCESS BRIDE Typography and Quote Art Print Frame not included

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Cary Elwes is a thoroughly English actor who played Westley the simple farm boy to perfection. He also played The Man in Black and The Dread Pirate Roberts which are different personas to the same character. He has a really polite manner about him even when he is dispatching or ridding himself of enemies.

Robin Wright, Robin Wright Penn, is the American actress who played the pretty Princess Buttercup.


You can rent or purchase The Princess Bride movie. With Amazon Instant Video you can start watching right away. Why wait to watch a DVD of The Princess Bride when you can start watching the Amazon Instant Video right away on your PC, Kindle Fire, iPad, TiVo and more.

You can then watch the Battle of Wits scene and what is perhaps one of the greatest movie death scenes, certainly one of the funniest, again and again.

The Princess Bride Battle of Wits Summary

The Princess Bride Halloween display set with potion bottle props made from the movie

Image Credit: photo belongs to the author.

SPOILERS! This contains a summary of the whole Princess Bride poison scene. If you don't want to read any spoilers then scroll down to the quotes section.

1: A Strange Set-Up. Vizzini is hired by Prince Humperdinck to start a war between Florin and Guilder. He kidnaps Princess Buttercup, blindfolds her and ties her hands together, and then sits down with her. They are poised rather hilariously as if they are at a charming and romantic picnic. Everything is laid out in the open air with a convenient sized rock to be used like a table.

The makeshift stone table is set quite daintily with a white cloth, some cheese, bread, apples, two metal and medieval style wine goblets and a twine-wrapped bottle of red wine.

2: Let the Challenge Begin. It is our suave and handsome hero Westley, known only at this point as The Man in Black, that approaches the scene. He lays down a to the death challenge to the Sicilian brain-box, Vizzini.

Westley wants a Battle of Wits in order to win Princess Buttercup. Vizzini is so very sure of himself that he declares right from the start that Westley is no match for his superior brains.

3: How Utterly Inconceivable. Westley sits down and pulls out a long glass powder vial and removes the stopper. He asks Vizzini to inhale it. What! Stop the press.

Any sane man who has brains of the magnitude that Vizzini boasts surely wouldn't inhale something unknown from an enemy. But Vizzini does so willingly. And he had the gall to call Plato, Socrates and Aristotle morons?!?

Princess bride Iocane powder travel cup

Impress your friends with your new knowledge on this deadly poison and knowledge of what is iocane powder used for. I love the idea of these for Halloween or for a themed party. But would I want to drink out of one? Hmm that depends how much I trusted the person giving me the drink. I have also seen shot glasses available.

4: Now we get to Some Facts on Iocane. Westley explains to Vizzini that his vial contains a substance called iocane powder. This has no scent, nor any taste and the powder dissolves at once when applied to a liquid. It is, in fact, most deadly.

5: Which Goblet is Safe to Drink From? Taking both goblets full of red wine, Westley turns around and adds in some Iocane. Vizzini is unable to see which goblet he's adding the powder to. Now Vizzini has to use his rather amazing brain powers to work out which wine goblet contains the toxin.

Vizzini shows an amazing logic in trying to decide which goblet he should drink from. How the actor, Wallace Shawn, ever remembered those lines, and also nailed them without getting confused or starting to laugh is beyond me.

6: More Princess Bride Facts on Iocane. From Vizzini's rambling and ingenious spiel we also learn that this originates from Australia. No wonder so many people have a sense that this stuff is actually real after watching the movie or reading the book. We're even given an origin or back-story for it. That's an excellent plot device for making us believe that it is real.

Stylish way to Carry a Poison! Everything about Westley AKA The Man in Black and The Dread Pirate Roberts exudes style doesn't it. If you were pretending to carry this fictional product, the best way to do it might be with a Gothic or antique styled vial or bottle necklace.

Is This The Funniest Movie Death Scene Ever?

Orange glass Halloween potion bottle handle with care skull detail

Image Credit: photo belongs to the author.

I think Vizzini's Death in The Princess Bride might just be it!

7: A Not So Clever Switch. Vizzini thinks that he's being terribly clever when he points to something over Westley's shoulder. This makes Westley look around while Vizzini gets busy switching the goblets.

Westley wants to know what's so funny when Vizzini starts chuckling but the Sicilian's not telling until they've had a drink.

8: Who is Laughing Now? The last quote from Vizzini is a very memorable one: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. Then he starts laughing uncontrollably A ha ha ha ha ha, A ha ha ha ha ha, A ha ha ha until he suddenly stops and falls over sideways. He has dropped dead.

The Sicilian did get the last laugh in the Battle of Wits but unfortunately it was actually his last laugh. So what happened? Why did Vizzini with the amazing intellect get it so wrong?

9: An Immunity to Iocane Powder. Bear in mind that Buttercup only knows this character who has saved her as The Man in Black at this point. Westley later explains to Princess Buttercup that both goblets where poisoned.

Westley had spent a couple of years building up an immunity to the iocane poison. So what Vizzini hadn't bargained for was that Westley would put the iocane powder in both wine goblets. But since Westley was immune, it did him no damage.

Get Your Own Metal Goblets for Fun

If you're recreating the Battle of Wits for a project, play or just for laughs, you seriously need to get some metal wine goblets and do it in nothing less than the best style. If you can remember and correctly quote all the lines from The Princess Bride scene without referring to a crib sheet, much kudos to you!

Otherwise, think about doing something different with the scene because I've seen so many same-old recreations on YouTube. Change up one of the characters, change the challenge itself, change the prize. Think about how you could make a truly memorable scene of your own while giving it the true Princess Bride vibe.

Iocane Powder Quotes from The Princess Bride

Princess bride apothecary bottle labels

Make Your Own Iocane Powder Bottle with my Free Princess Bride Potion Labels

Image Credit: photo belongs to the author.

These iocane powder quotations taken from The Princess Bride movie. Under each quote is a brief commentary for further understanding and interest.

"What you do not smell is called iocane powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid and it is among the more deadly poisons known to man."

Westley invites Vizzini to inhale the powder which he holds out to him in a thin, tube vial. In the book, it is not a vial but a simple sachet. I can see why they changed it for the movie version.

"Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink and find out who is right, and who is dead."

Westley initiates the challenge over Princess Buttercup. Westley keeps his cool for the entire challenge during the movie version. In the book, however, his character gets quite nervous and unsure of himself. I prefer the strong and together Westley on screen.

"All I have to do is divine from what I know of you." ~ The rest of this quote is below:

iocane powder quote princess bride quotation by vizzini

Image Credit: photo belongs to the author.

You can read the rest of this lengthy quote above. Vizzini uses his astonishing, or shall we say inconceivable, intelligence to decipher which goblet is going to prove safe for him to drink from.

"Iocane comes from Australia ..."

Read the rest of this quotation above in the image. Here, we discover through Vizzini the origin of the powder and exactly where it comes from. And that is precisely what makes this seem oh so real.

"You must have suspected I would know the powder's origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."

Just when you think that Vizzini has made up his mind which wine glass to drink from, think again. He thinks through almost every conceivable possibility bar the correct one.

"You've beaten my giant which means you're exceptionally strong."

Read the rest of this quotation in the image above. Seriously, Vizzini's brain must ache at times!

"I know where the poison is."

Well, Vizzini, you think you know. A ha ha ha ha.!

"To think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned."

Princess Buttercup is used as a plot device here so that we can discover how Westley really bested Vizzini. Vizzini can't ask this question now because he is dead.

I have to say that Vizzini's death is a whole lot funnier on screen than in the book. The manic laughing is something that you have to see and hear for it to be truly hilarious.

"They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder."

Westley divulges his secret for how he outsmarted the brainy Sicilian. There's more about an immunity to the powder below.

"Iocane, I bet my life on it."

Prince Humperdinck who is tracking Princess Buttercup down sniffs the discarded vial. Obviously he shouldn't be able to smell anything because it is odorless and this is probably what makes him suspect iocane.

Building an Immunity to Iocane Powder

Iocane Powder Glass Bottle Necklace - Poison Potion Vial Charm pick your poison, sorry color

So how did Westley build up an immunity to this powerful toxin? In the movie, Westley tells Princess Buttercup that he was able to build up an immunity or a tolerance for this poisonous powder.

This is why it did not affect him when he drank it though it killed Vizzini. Is this just another bit of fiction or is it indeed possible to build an immunity to a poison?

I'm not trying this and no one should ever mess with real toxins but it is apparently possible for the body to build up a tolerance to some. When William Goldman, the author, said that Westley did this with the fictional stuff, he was laying down at least a theory that it could indeed be possible.

The theory would involve consuming very small quantities of the substance over a long period of time in order to become immune to it. However it is not fact and may not work like that at all in real life. We're talking complete fiction here.

Hope you enjoyed learning more about this. You could make your own vial and wear round your neck for Halloween or have it as a novel display piece.

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