- Main article: Alchemy (Skyrim)
- 1 Ingredient collection strategies
- 2 Leveling Alchemy
- 3 Making money
Ingredient collection strategies
Obtaining ingredients from vendors
- Arcadia's Cauldron (Whiterun) – Deliver the Frost Salts provided by Farengar Secret-Fire to Arcadia
- The White Phial (Windhelm) – Complete The White Phial
- The Hag's Cure (Markarth) – Deliver the Stallion's Potion to Raerek for Bothela
- The Mortar and Pestle (Dawnstar) – Find the Ring of Pure Mixtures for Frida
- Angeline's Aromatics (Solitude) – Complete No News is Good News
- Thaumaturgist's Hut (Morthal) – Complete Rare Gifts
The Merchant perk
Several ingredients require the "Merchant" Speech perk to appear in Vendor shop inventories. These ingredients include:
- Powdered Mammoth Tusk
- Small Pearl
- Large Antlers
- Sabre Cat Tooth
- Wisp Wrappings
- Eye of Sabre Cat
- Blue Dartwing
With the addition of The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn, Pearls and Small Pearls can be harvested from Pearl Oysters found on the coasts of Solstheim. The Green Thumb perk will yield two Pearls or Small Pearls per Pearl Oyster, instead of just one.
How the Alchemy mechanic works
The Alchemy skill gain experience proportional to the value/cost of resultant potions, determined by the following attributes:
- Effects – A Slow effect is valuable, while Damage Health effect is inexpensive. Crafted potions can have multiple effects if their ingredients have similar effects. Even conflicting effects on a single potion (such as Damage Health and Restore Health) will still increase its value. However, mixing effects will reduce the effectiveness of individual potions and poisons, depending on whether the beneficial effect or poison is dominant. (A poison in a pink bottle will be 20% less effective, while a beneficial potion in a green bottle will be 20% less effective.)
- Strength – Measured by percentage or duration time, potion strength is determined by Alchemy skill level, Alchemy perks, and Fortify Alchemy enchantments equipped.
Valuable single effects
Certain effects contribute more to the value of a potion than others. Some of the most valuable include:
- Damage Magicka Regen
- Damage Stamina Regen
- Fortify Carry Weight
- Regenerative effects – Regenerate Health, Regenerate Stamina, Regenerate Magicka
Certain ingredients have additional modifiers and are particularly effective for creating valuable potions, or potions with greater effect than average. These include:
Giant's Toes cause any potion with a duration to have its duration increased to 300 seconds, greatly increasing the potion's value. Additionally, when used in a Fortify Health potion, Giant's Toes provide a much greater increase to health than other ingredients with that effect. With a high enough Alchemy skill, Giant's Toes can produce Fortify Health potions worth more than 4,000 .
River Betty & Deathbell
River Betty increases poison damage on Damage Health potions by a large margin, more than doubling the regular damage at higher levels. While not as significant of a boost, Deathbells add roughly 50% the poison damage, and are far more common.
Salmon Roe has extremely powerful Fortify Magicka and Waterbreathing effects that are several times stronger than other ingredients. The potion's powerful magical effects make its line of potions the most expensive of all potions.
Less Effective Combinations
Some ingredient mixtures produce weaker effects than normal, despite having no mixed effects. The exact cause of this is unknown.
- Restore Health: Imp Stool/Blisterwort reduces healing amount
Process for leveling
Making many potions at a time is an effective method for leveling.
- Buffs – The Thief guardian stone speeds up Alchemy skill improvement by 20%, as do the benefits from a good night's sleep (+10% for Well Rested or +15% for Lover's Comfort).
- Magical effects – Sinderion's Serendipity gives you 25% chance of crafting an extra potion.
- Fortify Alchemy – The only way to fortify alchemy is through enchanted gear.
- Perks – Getting perks that boost the value of your potions as soon as possible will reduce the number of ingredients consumed to level your alchemy to 100. The Alchemist (0, 20, 40, 60, 80), Physician (20), Benefactor (30) and Poisoner (30) perks all increase the base resell value of created potions.
Note: While fortify barter modifies the selling price of your potions, it does not modify their base value. Thus, fortify barter enchantments and potions will not affect your leveling speed.
- Alchemy 1–75 – Receive Alchemy training from Arcadia in Whiterun. After training once, pickpocket the gold back. This can be repeated to raise Alchemy to level 75 for free. If done early in the game, the Pickpocket and Alchemy leveling may increase Character Level faster than one can be trained. The player can craft valuable potions to sell to Arcadia to cover the cost of training.
- Alchemy skill level 76–90 – Buy skills from Babette of the Dark Brotherhood. Unfortunately, because she is considered a child despite her age, she cannot be pickpocketed. Continue crafting valuable potions to supplement the training.
- Alchemy skill level 90–100 – There are 5 skill books and 3 quests that increase Alchemy Skill, including one that raises it by 5 points. These will improve Alchemy Skill the remainder of the way.
Alchemy is arguably the most time and cost efficient way to make money in Skyrim. Profit gained is determined by:
- The cost of ingredients.
- The time cost of gathering ingredients and traveling to vendors.
- The value of potions made, determined by equipment worn and perks chosen.
- The ability to sell the potions as vendors replenish their money on hand.
To reach level 100 Alchemy, approximately 200,000 septims worth of potions needs to be brewed. As early as level 10, potions worth over 1,000 can be crafted. For example: Falmer infested dungeons contain many Chaurus Eggs, and Luna Moth Wings can be obtained outside throughtout Skyrim at night. These result in valuable Invisibility potions. Additionally, the combination of Salmon roe, Garlic, and a Nordic Barnacle make the most expensive base potion, but this requires The Elder Scrolls V: Hearthfire.
Purchasing raw materials from vendors is generally efficient, because it avoids much of the time cost of finding raw materials in the wild. However, for rare ingredients, a lot of time can be lost traveling to specific merchants.
Buying all ingredients less than 60 septims from vendors creates an astronomically high return ratio for even the weakest of potion types. There is almost no correlation between ingredient cost or rarity and the value of potions crafted with them.
Another way to cover beginning expenses, along with slightly increasing the player's alchemy level, is to take all the the Spider Eggs during the tutorial, and to catch all the Blue Butterflies outside between Riverwood and Whiterun. The brewing stand at Arcadia's Cauldron can be used to brew them together. The gold made there can pay for additional ingredients for more valuable potions.
With the Hearthfire DLC, Homesteads can be built with a garden and greenhouse. Ingredients planted there can be harvested every 3 days. For 5000 septims and respect from the Jarl in Morthal, Falkreath, or Dawnstar, a Small House and a garden with 11 patches of fertile soil can be built. Owning all 3 Homesteads, for 33 total patches of soil, is enough to make more potions than can be sold without additional Speech perks.
With four "peerless" (25%) fortify alchemy items of clothing and jewelry, the Dragonborn can level Alchemy from 15 to 100 with 221 Fortify Health potions created from this combination of plants.
The same general tips used for leveling are applicable for improving the profitability of potions, as Alchemy leveling is determined by potion value.
Sales and trade routes
Each vendor has a limited amount of gold, and it is possible to empty a vendor's till with a single potion. The Thieves' Guild fences have deeper pockets (up to 4,000 septims), but very valuable potions will drain even those quite quickly. A merchant's gold and inventory replenishes after 48 in-game hours. A long, cyclic trade route will allow every vendor to have time to replenish.
Alternatively, there is an exploit that involves buying out a merchant, saving, attacking them, and reloading the save to reset their gold and inventory as needed. This saves considerable time versus fast traveling between vendors.