Whenever I travel to the Nether in Minecraft, I almost instantly get blasted to smithereens and chopped up into little pieces.

How do I survive in the Nether, at least long enough to build some sort of shelter and get situated?

  • 9
    The zombie pigmen don't attack you unless you agitate them first. Commented Nov 2, 2010 at 21:14
  • 7
    Not having known this before... can you un-agitate them? Commented Nov 2, 2010 at 21:34
  • 10
    I think the "official" name (The Nether) should be used in the question title. Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 10:24
  • 2
    @Nick @Keannu: The zombie pigmen now un-agitate automatically after a period of time Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 19:49
  • 6
    I liked how notch put it in the patch notes: "Zombie Pigman now forgive." Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 1:05

6 Answers 6


There are six big dangers in The Nether:

  1. Ghasts
  2. Zombie Pigmen
  3. Magma Cubes
  4. Blaze
  5. Lava
  6. Fire


  • These are the one danger that will actively seek you out and try to kill you, so they are the ones to watch out for. They are not really worth engaging unless you have a good supply of arrows (half a stack is good).
  • They will only attack you if you are relatively close and in their line of vision. The easiest way to avoid Ghasts is to simply hide behind something.
  • Their eyes and mouth are normally closed, but when they're shooting a fireball, they'll open wide. This is your cue to sidestep.
  • It is possible to knock their fireball back with a well-timed sword attack or arrow. They can be killed if hit by their own fireballs, but it is very difficult to aim the fireball right back at them. (You may want to practice this tactic with an empty inventory for a while if you plan on using it.)
  • The easiest way to kill a Ghast is by getting fairly close and spamming arrows.

Zombie Pigmen

  • Zombie Pigmen are not hostile by default! This means you can pick your battles with them, as long as you're careful. They become hostile when you directly deal damage to them (by hitting them with something or shooting them with an arrow).
  • Once you aggravate a single Pigman, all nearby Pigmen will also become hostile. They will never forgive you, but will eventually despawn.
  • Ghast fireballs also make quick work of Pigmen.

Magma Cube

  • In their passive state they move around every couple seconds and can be easily avoid, Magma Cubes will only attack you if you are in sight of them but can be easily out ran.

  • Magma cubes are decently hard to kill considering their high amount of health and armor and when you do manage to kill one release 2-4 smaller versions of themselves. Keep in mind that these smaller versions have increasingly less health and armor and do less damage.

  • Magma Cubes drop an item called Magma Cream which is a key ingredient in making Fire Resistance Potions allowing you a much easier time in the nether with the reduced damage it will give you.

  • Arrows would definitely be the easiest way to kill these guys and once you get a couple Fire Resistance Potions the nether should be no problem.


  • Blazes can be incredibly difficult to combat considering their unblockable attacks and their ability to fly and shoot a 3 round burst fireball that sets you aflame. Luckily they only spawn in nether fortresses so long as you stay away from them till you are prepared you have nothing to worry about.

  • To combat a Blaze it is almost necessary to have some sort of ranged attack, as throwing snowballs does damage Blazes. Having a Fire Resistance Potion will make this much easier as well.

  • Stay clear of a Nether Fortress while you are building and you will be fine.

Lava and Fire

  • Ghasts' fireballs cause a Creeper-like blast, but they also tend to light nearby netherrack on fire. They can also knock you back. Be careful to avoid cliffs with lava below, and try not to get in the fire while strafing/dodging. Carrying a bucket of water doesn't work in the Nether, because it will evaporate as soon as you pour it out. If you lit on fire, you're basically screwed.
  • You can put out fire on a block by punching it with any item (left clicking). Unfortunately, there's no way to punch yourself in Minecraft.
  • Aside from netherrack, lava and fire are the defining characteristics of the Nether. This may sound obvious, but watch where you're walking! It's generally pretty dark, so you'll either want a good supply of torches or some flint and steel to light up nearby netherrack. The flammability of netherrack is convenient for lighting your way, but it can also be a problem if you light a fire in enclosed spaces where you're likely to run back into it. Just because everything in the Nether is flammable doesn't mean you can't use torches.

Final Considerations

If you find yourself dying right out of the portal, you may have to give up on fighting and just run. Digging into the nearest cliff face just to get out of sight for a while is a good idea. Netherrack is very soft (one hit with a diamond pick), so you can dig-in pretty quickly, as long as you can get away from danger for a few seconds.

If there's a big group of Pigmen camping the portal, you might try a suicide TNT run - just drop it and punch it as soon as you're through! Hostile Pigmen will never stop being hostile, but will despawn if you get more than 128 blocks away while their chunk is loaded. This can be accomplished by entering the nether through a different portal (more than 1024 blocks away in the overworld) and walking towards where they were. When you get there, they will be gone.

If you absolutely have a terrible exit point, consider making another portal. Just don't build it too close to the first, as portals close to each other can "connect" to the same exit point in the Nether!

  • 12
    Put "Don't anger the pigmen!" on a sign next to your portal so that this message is always fresh in your head before embarking through. :P Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 0:48
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    My first instinct was to run from them, even though I knew they weren't hostile. The noises that a group of pigmen makes (especially when idly wandering through fire) are...troubling...
    – sjohnston
    Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 0:57
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    @Raven Dreamer It is much easier to use buckets of lava and a frame (made of dirt or whatever) to cast a portal than to build one from mined obsidian. Just pour lava into the mold, the douse with water. Instant obsidian! Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 2:59
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    @Sparr is that really true? I've had trouble getting portals to show up where I'd think they'd be. Seems like the Nether reorients them and possibly shifts them around a bit to fit to the landscape. Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 5:56
  • 2
    I'd suggest you adding to your answer instructions on how to put out fire (by looking at the linked youtube video, it seems I can just punch it) Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 10:30

Even though the Nether may seem very dangerous, survival is not as difficult as it seems. Here's a list, in order of approximate threat, of the perils you'll find in the Nether:


The Nether is a fire marshal's nightmare. It's built of mostly Netherrack, a flammable block that burns forever, and sits on an endless ocean of lava. In addition, lava-falls can be seen frequently streaming from the ceiling, often creating pools of lava or other dangerous obstacles. The worst part is that water turns to steam when placed in the Nether, making fighting fires even tougher. The easiest way to avoid a fiery death is to slow down. Because the terrain in the Nether is comprised almost entirely of the same texture, it's easy to miss dangerous holes and cliffs that may lead to fire and/or lava. Simply watching where you're about to step goes a long way in preventing death. Also remember that you can punch out fires in just one hit. The most important thing to remember is never dig straight up or straight down. Never, never, never. In the Nether, you are your own worst enemy.


You can tell when they're around by the strange sounds they make. If one sees you, if will attempt to shoot fiery explosives directly at you. If you simply want to avoid the Ghast, move so that there is barrier between you and it, and the Ghast will stop shooting. If you want to try to kill the Ghast, you have a few options: You can use a traditional weapon like a bow and arrow or sword (if you're close enough), or you can put the Ghast against itself by punching fireballs with any object to deflect them. A Ghast hit with a fireball will die instantly.

Magma Cubes

Magma Cubes are the Nether equivalent to Slimes. Like Slimes, they bounce around, seek out the player when possible, and split into smaller Magma Cubes when killed. Unlike Slimes, they can spawn anywhere, regardless of chunk or height. Even while in pursuit mode, they are slower than the player, and possible to outrun. However, tiny and small Magma Cubes have very little health (1/2 heart and 2 hearts, respectively), so it's usually easier just to fight them. Huge Magma Cubes have 8 full hearts, so fleeing from them may be a better option if you want to stay safe or have low health/weapons/armor. Due to a glitch Magma Cubes can sometimes jump through blocks, or hide in Soul Sand.


Blazes are (probably) the most difficult mob to face in the Nether, and one of the most difficult in all of Minecraft (behind the Ender Dragon and possibly Spider Jockeys). However, they are less of a concern because they only spawn from monster spawners in Nether Dungeons. When you are within range, Blazes will catch on fire shortly, and then shoot a volley of small fireballs at you, setting you and the blocks around you ablaze. In addition, they can spawn in packs of six and have 10 full hearts of health, not to mention the fact that they can fly. Confrontation with blazes is usually voluntarily, since Nether Dungeons and monster spawners are fairly obvious (Nether Dungeons are the only place Nether Brick naturally spawns). If you want to battle a blaze for their valuable blaze rods, you should have plenty of health/food/armor/weapons (Some practice in a save you don't care about can be very beneficial). If you unintentionally encounter one, sprinting away is very effective considering the Blaze's speed. Blazes are harmed by snowballs (3 dmg), so making a snow golem for backup or packing a few stacks of snowballs can be a great help.

Zombie Pigmen

Zombie Pigmen both look and sound creepy, but they are a friendly mob unless provoked. Just leave them be, and they'll pose no threat to you. However, anger just one of them.. and every Zombie Pigmen within 32 blocks will bring their fury upon you. Zombie Pigmen can run just as fast as you can (but they can't sprint), and they deal a fair amount of damage. The is compounded, of course, by the sheer number of Zombie Pigmen that will be after you. If you have sufficient weapons and other supplies, you can try to fight them off, but it is MUCH safer to either:

  1. Hide in a safe place until they become nutral again.
  2. Move far enough away so they despawn.
  3. Use a portal
  4. Set difficulty to Peaceful, then back to your normal setting.


  • Lava spreads twice as far in the Nether.
  • Beds will exploded and deal damage when you attempt to sleep in them in the Nether.
  • Clocks and compasses will not work in the Nether.
  • Maps created in the overworld will not work in the Nether. (You can craft maps in the Nether and use them normally)
  • It's much easier to get lost in the Nether, as the terrain is very visually repetitive. Try using torches or cobblestone to mark your path.
  • Ghasts, Zombie Pigmen, and Magma Cubes are all immune to lava. (More testing is necessary to determine the lava venerability of Blazes).
  • Blazes are completely invulnerable to any fire-related damage. Also, every earth-borne mob walks around magma as if its a wall. Skeletons still shoot arrows over it, but placing magma in front of your gate is a great way of stopping mobs from following you into your house. Unfortunately, this includes passive mobs, golems and wolves. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 7:42
  • It should probably be mentioned that snow golems will quickly melt (die) in the nether, and thus aren't a good tool.
    – pppery
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 14:45

I just had to salvage an overrun portal myself. My trick was to take nothing to the Nether after a respawn but a stack of dirt. As soon as you warp in, start building walls to hide yourself from ghasts and wall out the pigmen. It took me five or six deaths and some luck before I managed to get a decent enclosure. From there you can stage hit-and-run attacks against lurking ghasts and pigmen, ducking back inside when things get tense. Ghasts aren't too tricky if you can get somewhat close and keep the fight one-on-one.

It's worth mentioning that if you're willing to take an ego hit, you can set the game's difficulty to peaceful while you build. Just depends on when challenging turns into frustrating for you.

  • +1 this is what I ended up doing - encasing myself and the portal in stone, and then breaking/building outwards. For the record, it also helps to dig downward.
    – Keaanu
    Commented Nov 4, 2010 at 13:16
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    I second this idea: wall yourself in, but use cobblestone. Both cobblestone and obsidian are immune to ghast fireballs. From here you can expand outward and construct a larger cobblestone hut as a base. Make the exit a tunnel with a bend so that a ghast can't fire into your main base as you're running home. Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 21:38
  • I always create "safety tubes" from cobblestone when in the Nether. I created my nether portal using the water/lava trick before i found many diamonds, meaning I was particularly vulnerable. Also, ghasts can't "see" anything through glass Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 7:45

Often you spawn inside a hill or something--when this happens it hollows out a small room for your gate that is completely safe (once lit).

You might try walking a long distance away and creating another gate (If it's close you'll wind up at the same gate, One gate in the nether will attach to any gates within about 16? blocks of the original gate.

This will give you time to get your act together and create a safe area before venturing out.


I think the way to survive in the nether is to just leave the pigmen alone and do your own things unless one of them approaches you and you need to kill it from a distance like from 2-3 blocks away or it will kill you with the sword.

About the ghasts - kill them and use something to cover you and move around don't just stand there and also kill them with a bow and arrow. Try to get away from fire or die it off with your bow or axe and keep going. Just my experience: I did went in there and I survive and that is my experience :)


My best advice would be to stay clear of the ghasts and pigmen, but it depends on what you're looking for. Always keep dirt or cobblestone to mark your path from the portal. If looking for a blaze, then keep a stack or two of snowballs and maybe snow golem material. Unless you have a fire resistance, I wouldn't recommend trying to fight it with a sword. Hope I helped!

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