The road to completing a nether portal in Minecraft is long and potentially arduous. When playing survival mode, it's not as easy as whipping out obsidian blocks and igniting them. It sometimes requires hours of preparation. Finishing that nether portal means gaining access to the hellish Nether, a place filled with hostile mobs, intimidating environments and imposing nether fortresses. It's also the only place to find a wide variety of unique materials and crafting items, making it a valuable location to have access to.
There are two viable methods of getting to the Nether, so you're not out of luck yet. Read on to find out how.
What do you need to know about nether portals in Minecraft?
Before we get into the two ways one might build a nether portal, let us cover what precisely a nether portal looks like. A nether portal is constructed out of a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 14 blocks of obsidian. When fully built, it should look like a large doorway, with a two-block by three-block gap making up the center.
- Full nether portal: As you can see from the image above, a nether portal is a four-sided rectangle: two sides of 4 blocks making the top and bottom, and two sides of 3 blocks making the left and right. Think of it as two pillars standing on a foundation and holding up a roof. This takes 14 blocks of obsidian.
- Partial nether portal: However, as you can see from the image above, the corners are optional. A nether portal is still fully functional even without the corners, saving you some obsidian in the process. This is also a way for someone to spruce up their nether portal with some decorative corners if they wanted to. This takes ten blocks of obsidian.
There are a few more things to keep in mind regarding nether portals and how traveling through them works:
- Distance in the Nether works differently. Every block you traverse in the Nether is actually the equivalent of eight blocks in the Overworld. This means that using the Nether can be an effective means of traveling huge distances quickly.
- Nether portals aren't all connected. In a similar vein to the last point, nether portals aren't all connected to one another. When a player travels through the nether portal, that portal will take them to the same relative location in the Nether. If there isn't a nether portal already there, one will be generated automatically.
- You can build multiple nether portals. This means that a player can build multiple nether portals in multiple locations, with the understanding that those portals will always transport you to the same relative location in the other dimension. Thus, traveling long distances in the Nether and then building another nether portal to return isn't a bad idea.
How do you build a nether portal without diamonds in Minecraft?
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to construct a functional nether portal without harvesting those elusive diamonds. While it's true that obsidian, the primary ingredient in building a nether portal, cannot be broken or mined by the player with anything but a diamond pickaxe, there are ways around that if you want a little shortcut. Bear in mind, there are some limitations to this method.
To get started, you'll need:
- A lava source: This one is a little harder to come by. You'll have to find a natural reservoir of lava to draw from, and you can't rely on having an infinite source. You can import that lava from faraway places if you have a plethora of iron buckets, but you'll want to have at least ten buckets of lava. Fortunately, lava is relatively common in Minecraft, both above and below ground.
- A water source: Obsidian is formed when water comes in contact with a lava source block. That means you'll need a replenishable source of water to complete this. You can build an infinite well by digging a four block by four block hole in the ground and emptying a bucket of water into three of the corners. You'll notice the final corner automatically fills up. As long as you only extract water from one corner at a time, you now have an ever-full well!
- Extra building blocks. This can really be anything you want, but I recommend cobblestone. It doesn't burn, it's easily accessible, and it isn't affected by gravity (like sand or gravel.)
- Iron buckets: Buckets are handy for transporting liquid from one place to another. In this case, from wherever you're getting the liquid to your nether portal construction project. You can craft iron buckets with 3 iron ingots (smelted from iron ore.)
- Flint and steel: A fire starter is a necessity for lighting a nether portal once it's built, so you'll need to have flint and steel handy. It's extremely easy to craft, however, just requiring one piece of flint (found from gravel) and one iron ingot to get the job done.
- A pickaxe. Assuming you chose cobblestone as your material of choice, you'll need a pickaxe to mine it when you're done. Iron or diamond is preferred.
Building your nether portal in Minecraft
Once you've rounded up all your materials, it's time to get started. First off, make sure you're familiar with the basic build of a nether portal by referring to the section above. Once you have that out of the way, follow the steps below, and you'll have a perfect portal in no time. The secret to building a nether portal without diamonds is relatively simple: obsidian is formed when water hits a lava source block. Just make a mold to make sure the obsidian happens to be created in the exact shape needed for a nether portal.
To build a nether portal without diamonds, do the following:
- Find a suitable place for your Nether portal. I recommend either building a closed space for it or keeping it separate from everything else since it is possible for Nether mobs to travel through a portal occasionally.
- Begin building your mold by placing your building blocks in a three-block by a six-block rectangle on the ground.
- Fill your mold with lava. You should have a single line of lava four blocks long. Each block of lava needs to be full, so you'll need a bucket of lava for each spot.
- Go to one end of the mold and pour a bucket of water at the end. This will make a bit of a mess, but you can pick the water back up. The water should run over the lava blocks and turn each one into obsidian.
- On either end, build a column with a 1 block opening directly over the obsidian blocks. This is how we build the sides of the nether portal.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4. There's only the one way to make obsidian, so you'll be doing a lot of that.
- Repeat step 5 and 6 on both sides two more times. Each side of the nether portal needs to be five obsidian blocks from top to bottom.
- Now the top! Build a little bridge one block down from the top of your obsidian pillars.
- Give the bridge railing. The railing should be even with the top of your obsidian pillars. No reason to let lava spill everywhere.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 one more time. Once the water is cleared away, you should have a fully functional nether portal!
- At least, under all that scaffolding. Clear away all your excess building materials to reveal your nether portal. Check to make sure your measurements are correct. If something's not right, you may need to repeat these steps in a different location.
- Finally, take your flint and steel and light one of the bottom corners of the nether portal. If everything is correct, the nether portal should be filled with an ominous purple glow. That's your cue to walk into it.
Keep in mind, there's one major flaw with this approach. While you theoretically gain access quicker than other players, you are unable to build another nether portal in the Nether. If you get lost and can't find your way back to the original portal, you're basically out of luck. Without diamonds, you can't stockpile obsidian, only make it as you need it. And that doesn't work in the Nether. While you can find obsidian in the Nether by looting chests, you shouldn't rely on this. Make sure you mark where your portal is when you arrive.
How do you build a nether portal with diamonds in Minecraft?
If you've already found diamonds in Minecraft, and have all the necessary ingredients to craft a diamond pickaxe, building a nether portal is far easier for you. Whether you make your obsidian or find it while exploring, you can simply mine it with your diamond pickaxe and take it with you. Obsidian takes forever to mine, so you'll be waiting for quite a while, but as long as your pickaxe is made of diamond, it'll soon join your inventory.
Once you have 10 to 14 blocks of obsidian stockpiled, you can build your nether portal wherever you want by using the portal schematics above. This takes the guesswork out of it, and it means you can keep extra obsidian on hand in case you need to quickly build a portal to escape the Nether. Unless you have a reason for wanting to get to the Nether a little earlier (like potion brewing, or to explore the new biomes as part of 'the Nether Update,'), it's probably best to do things like this.
Now that you know how to build a nether portal, you can move back and forth as much as you want. Once you've mastered the Nether itself, nothing will be able to stop you! Except creepers. Those are still a threat. You're also fully prepared to conquer the Nether when the Nether Update is released.
Do you have any other tricks for getting to the Nether? What about unique ways of adding a nether portal to your Minecraft world? Let us know in the comments below!
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.