I've died a few times before reaching the point where I can get some action going; after each death I was unable to recover the contents of my inventory.

  • Is my inventory lost forever after death?
  • Does storing items in chest help persist them after a respawn?
  • What happens to the contents of a chest if it is destroyed?

8 Answers 8


No answer seems to get the full picture, so let's do a summary.

Here is what happens to your items after you die:

  • Items can be picked up.
  • When you die, all the items in your inventory are dropped on ground.
  • Items on the ground are destroyed by explosions (creepers and TNT), lava and cactus.
  • Water streams move items. Items float in water in 1.13+.
  • Items on the ground get deleted after 5 minutes (time only counted when chunk is loaded).
  • Items are affected by gravity and have no explosion resistance, health, etc. which other blocks/objects have. This means that even after they are dropped, a small explosion can kill all of them.
  • Items placed in a chest are stored infinitely until removed, or until the chest is destroyed. The rules above then apply to the items dropped. Chests cannot be destroyed by fire, lava, or water, but can be destroyed with explosions.
  • If you had any experience on you, a fraction of it will drop and be allowed to be picked up.

Keep in mind things don't happen such as mobs moving, creepers exploding etc. if the chunk is not loaded.

  • Careful dying near water, as it will 'wash' your items down stream. Be super careful if that water is running into lava!
    – Tyronomo
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 5:53
  • 1
    Never fall down a deep pit and lose your items, because the only way of getting them back is to build stairs down to them, which should take more than 5 minutes.
    – user7385
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 13:49
  • Note to Mana, @badp, that Tyronomo's post did predate this posting, which is why the info is included.
    – Grace Note
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 13:58
  • 6
    – badp
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 14:01

Your inventory is scattered around your death spot, and will stay there for approximately 5 minutes. Run for it!

  • 2
    +1 for correct answer... In the first or second episode of X's adventures in Minecraft he explains (and accidentally shows) this. Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 16:13
  • 16
    Yep, it's true, although I always have the impression that something is missing...
    – badp
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 8:05
  • 1
    I think a few items might get destroyed, specially if they touch something like Cactus. But sorry, I'm not very sure about this. Commented Sep 23, 2010 at 3:09
  • 1
    Items that fall in lava will also be destroyed.
    – mithrandi
    Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 2:14
  • 15
    Also, if you die in a chunk outside your spawn chunk, the countdown timer on items expiring doesn't start until you load the chunk. Commented Nov 1, 2010 at 20:43

To answer your three bullets:

  • Is my inventory lost forever after death?

When you die all of your items scatter on the ground. On respawn you can go and pick them back up but they stay on the ground for a limited time. Unfortunately, if they disappeared then they are gone forever.

You can take advantage of this while raiding a dungeon, just charge in with a sword and upon dying run back to the dungeon, pick up your sword, and try again.

  • Does storing items in chest help them persist after a respawn?

Items in a chest remain in-game forever, or as long as the chest persists. So anything you have stored in a chest will be there after a respawn.

  • What happens to the contents of a chest if it is destroyed?

If a chest is destroyed its contents, and the chest block, will spill on the ground and can be picked up. If it's an explosion that destroys the chest, some of the spill will be lost.

Chests are not affected by fire.


When you die by Creeper-explosion the items in your inventory are destroyed. If you die by any other means they are scattered and can be recovered.

  • 4
    This would explain my inaccuracy. I've never died to anything other than a creeper explosion. Commented Sep 23, 2010 at 15:06
  • 5
    Items that fall in lava, fire, or touch cactus are also lost. Commented Oct 4, 2010 at 16:04
  • 6
    I don't know if this answer was accurate when it was posted, but it certainly isn't anymore.
    – runaros
    Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 20:07
  • @BlueRaja: Yeah, fire does also destroy items...I just learned it the hard way while playing with my flintlock. :(
    – Bobby
    Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 21:27
  • 2
    @ruaros is correct, the answer is currently inaccurate. Creeper explosions may have some chance of destroying an item (at least I have occasionally seemed to lose things with no lava around), but not all. Most (if not all) will survive for the desperate run back, naked and lightless, while you try to grab that diamond sword you lost... :)
    – Cyclops
    Commented Feb 21, 2011 at 23:19

After you die, the contents of your inventory is lost. Items placed in the world, such as in chests are safe and you can rest easy knowing they will not despawn unless the chest is destroyed (i.e. by Creeper explosion).

It is for this reason among others, that one of the first tasks suggested to every Minecraft player is to build themselves a small home, in which they can rest safely at night, and store any valuables not needed on a current expedition.

  • 2
    I've had a chest light on fire several times, and neither it nor its contents were destroyed.
    – Keaanu
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 17:46

When you die, Lava and exploding creepers may destroy some or all of your items immediately. The rest are scattered on the ground around you, and a five minute timer starts. This timer counts down as long as the chunk the item is in remains loaded into memory.

For performance reasons, approximately a 20x20 block of chunks around the player are loaded into memory at one time (about 320x320 blocks, with you in the center). If your bed/spawn is farther than 160 blocks away, then the timer on those fallen items pauses when you respawn, and it will not begin again until you get within 10 chunks and the area they are in is reloaded into memory.

In single player, this means that the items will almost certainly survive until you return, as long as you do not dally once within 160 blocks, regardless of how far away they are. However, in multiplayer you are not the only person in the world... having someone else in the same general area as your fallen items will cause the timer to continue to count down, even if you are very far away.

But this is only for items that are on your person (and thus fall on to the ground when you die); items in chests remain permanently across saves and deaths. If the chest is destroyed they all fall on the ground around the chest, and the same 5 minute timer and rules about the chunk being loaded apply.

  • "as long as you do not dally" no, you can play in the world for a full year and as long as the chunk isn't loaded, you don't have to go grab them. So unless you need the stuff right away or you died close to somewhere you'll go again, you don't have to bother retrieving your stuff right away if you don't want to.
    – Penguin
    Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 3:23
  • I meant 'as long as you do not dally once within range'. Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 15:10
  • Oh. In that case yes
    – Penguin
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 15:11
  • Is my inventory lost forever after death?

    Once you have died your items will be scatters around your death spot for 5 mins, but if you die in lava it will all be gone forever.

  • Does storing items in chest help persist them after a respawn?

    Storing stuff in a chest is usually a wise idea, mainly if your going into uncharted areas, like caves. You stuff will all be safe.

    Note: Always try to stay near spawn point, so if you die you can run inside fast.

  • What happens to the contents of a chest if it is destroyed?

    If a chest is destroyed all your stuff will be on the ground, in any case its kind of like dying, it will only stay for 5 mins.

    If I am correct, chest can only be destroyed by you for TNT, and creepers.


If a chest is destroyed by you mining it, the contents will fall on the ground as if you died. (scattered on the ground) Cactus, fire, and lava can destroy those items. If you was blown up by TNT or Creepers your inventory will be perfectly fine, for the explosion hits you and then your items come out. Believe me, I've been through my fair share of explosions. Hope this sets things straight.

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