How to Make Nether Portals in Minecraft: 3 Methods

January 20, 2024 • Zachary Amos


Learning how to make nether portals is crucial for unlocking the full Minecraft experience and beating the game. If you’re new to Minecraft, though, you’re probably wondering what these portals are for, where they go and how you build them. This easy guide covers nether portal basics and three strategies for making one. 

What Are Nether Portals For in Minecraft?

If you’re wondering how to make nether portals, you might be new to Minecraft. A nether portal allows you to jump between dimensions in your Minecraft world. The dimension you start out on, and the main space where you play the game, is called the overworld. There are a couple of other main dimensions in the game: the nether and the End. 

The nether is a subterranean world of lava and hostile biomes. It’s a great place to lose lives and accidentally get your stuff burned up in a giant lava pool. You need to go to the nether to beat the game, though. 

The nether is home to a very important generated structure: fortresses. These dangerous buildings, made of netherrack bricks, are full of dangerous, hostile mobs. One of them is the blaze, a flying fire mob. Killing blazes will earn you blaze rods, which you need to create eyes of ender, which you need to turn on an End portal and get to the last dimension in the game. 

You can also find some cool loot and resources in the nether, such as quartz, special types of wood, glowstone and netherite scrap. You can use that last one to build ingots for netherite armor, the strongest type in Minecraft. 

How to Make Nether Portals: 3 Methods

There are basically three ways to approach making a nether portal in Minecraft, depending on what tools you have available. You can only mine obsidian with a diamond or netherite pickaxe, so if you don’t at least have diamond, you won’t be able to collect any. 

You can create a nether portal without needing to break and collect obsidian, but it requires water. This method won’t work in the nether since water instantly evaporates there. So, it’s a good idea to know all the methods possible when learning how to make nether portals. 

1. Obsidian Blocks (No Water)

The most straightforward way to build a nether portal is by simply building the portal frame with blocks of obsidian. Technically you can break obsidian blocks with any pickaxe, but it won’t drop the block of obsidian unless you are using a diamond pick or better. So, you need a diamond pickaxe to use this method. 

Once you have your diamond pick, it’s pretty easy. Nether portals need to be at least 4×5 blocks, but you don’t need to have the corners of the portal for it to work. So, technically you can get away with only 10 blocks of obsidian for a working portal. You’ll need 14 blocks of it if you want to include the corners. You can make obsidian by finding a lava pool and pouring a bucket of water over it. This will turn the lava into obsidian. 

With your obsidian in hand, pick a safe spot for your nether portal. The top and bottom edges of the portal should be at least 4 blocks wide and the vertical sides should be at least 5 blocks tall. Keep in mind, the rows will overlap at the corners. The inside edge of the portal should be 2×3 blocks. 

After assembling the portal, pull out some flint and steel from your tools and hit the portal frame with it. This should ignite the portal. If it’s a swirling purple vortex, it’s working. 

2. Water and Lava Buckets (No Diamond Pickaxe)

Unless you get lucky and find a shipwreck, ruined portal, buried treasure or some other chest of goodies, getting a diamond pickaxe can be tough. The redesigned caves in Minecraft 1.20 onward are enormous, so it’s a bit easier to find diamonds than it used to be. The giant caves can be very risky for new players, though, leaving them no choice but to spend hours branch mining until they eventually hit a few diamonds. 

You don’t need to go through this whole process to get to the nether. There’s a way to build a portal without a diamond pickaxe to break blocks of obsidian. This type of portal is often called a “speedrunner portal” because it skips the long process of finding diamonds. 

All you need is a bucket of water, some cobblestone blocks, any pickaxe and a lava pool. Find a spot in the lava pool at least 4 blocks wide for the base of your portal. From there, you need to use the cobblestone blocks to create a frame for your portal frame, sort of like scaffolding. The best way to learn how to make one of these is through videos. 

Learning how to make nether portals this way does take some practice. It can help to practice it in a creative world to save yourself some trouble and confusion in your survival world. This method effectively just uses Minecraft’s game physics to turn lava into obsidian in a controlled way. It’s tricky, but by far the fastest way to get to the nether after starting a new world. 

It is important to note that this method will not work in the nether, though. Water evaporates in the nether, no matter where you place it. So, if you lose your portal once you’re in the nether, you’ll be stuck until you find some obsidian in chests in fortresses or bastions. Alternatively, you can wander around until you find an abandoned portal, which appear in both the nether and the overworld. 

3. Rebuild a Ruined Portal

The last method for making nether portals in Minecraft can technically work with either of the first two methods. It will make the process easier either way. 

If you haven’t encountered them yet, there are ruined nether portals scattered around every Minecraft world (assuming you have “Generate Structures” turned on). These portals can be practically anywhere, even in the middle of the ocean or completely underwater. The underwater ones aren’t usually the best choice for rebuilding, but they’re still worth stopping at. 

If you ever see a ruined portal, always check out the chest sitting near it. Be careful for blocks of lava and magma, though. The chest usually has some helpful stuff in it like potions, armor, enchanted apples, food, coal and more. Chests almost always have at least one block of obsidian inside, too. 

You can use the obsidian in the chest to rebuild ruined portals, even if you don’t have a diamond pickaxe to mine obsidian with. Some portals are more complete than others, though. Watch out for crying obsidian, as well. If a portal has any blocks with glowing portal streaks, mine them out and replace them with normal obsidian. Otherwise, the portal won’t work. 

Unlocking the Nether in Minecraft

Learning how to make nether portals might be a little confusing at first, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Nether portals are crucial for gaining access to the fiery world of the nether, where you can test your Minecraft skills and find valuable resources. Plus, the nether is a critical stepping stone to the End, the final dimension of the game where you can face the Ender Dragon.