Alchemy is very effective for leveling, making money, and making extremely strong armor and weapons when paired with Enchanting.
How the Alchemy mechanic works (overview)
The Alchemy skill increases proportionally to the value/cost of the potion being brewed. The value of the potion depends on:
- B) increases with the potion's strength (either % or in duration), which is determined by the skill level, perks and apparel enchantments of the alchemist
- C) increases if the potion has multiple effects (occurs when the ingredients used in a potion have multiple similar effects), even if the effects themselves do not mix well/conflict, such as Damage Health and Restore Health.
Most Valuable Single Effects
The most valuable single effects are Invisibility, Paralyze, Slow, and the regenerate types (Health, Stamina, Magicka). These are two to three times more effective than other potions when giving skill points.
Best Value Reagent Combinations For Leveling
will give you the best return on investment.
Best Process Tips for Leveling
Making big batches of potions at a time is most efficient and effective 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).
- Potion Effects: If you have Fortify Alchemy potions on hand already, using them will speed up leveling (because the potions created are stronger). It is not recommended that you make large numbers of Fortify Alchemy potions solely for leveling, as they do not improve Alchemy as quickly as the most valuable types, and are an inefficient use of resources
- Gear: Wearing Fortify Alchemy enchanted apparel and jewelry also speeds up leveling (because the potions created are stronger): it is possible to enchant head gear, hand gear, a ring and a necklace for a total of four items giving bonuses (five if the head gear exploit is available). The bonus of the Fortify Alchemy effects stack additively (for example: four items with +25% bonus gives a 25%+25%+25%+25% = +100% bonus), and can exceed 100%. There is an exploit (PS3, PC, Xbox) that will permit an enchanted Falmer Helmet and an enchanted circlet to be worn at the same time.
Note that the "value" of the potion is not really reflected by the vendor price; improving vendor price does not change the potion's base value and thus does not affect the skill increase.
Leveling Example 1
An efficient way to level Alchemy to 100 involves the following steps:
- 1) Alchemy Level 1 - 75: Buy skills from Arcadia in Whiterun. Collect Giant's Toes and Wheat during this period and make enough potions to sell to Arcadia to cover the costs of buying skills.
- 2) Alchemy Skill Level 76 - 86: Buy skills from Babette of the Dark Brotherhood. Also make potions with the Giant Toe's/Wheat you find.
- 3) Alchemy Skill Level 87 - 100: There are 5 skill books and 3 quests that increase Alchemy Skill. These will improve Alchemy Skill.
Online Alchemy Tools
Skyrim: Alchemy Recipe Helper This web application is able to find all the recipe combinations for a given ingredient. By default it will show the recipes which discover the effects of the ingredient, for example, given 'Glow Dust' it will find the three unique recipes which will discover all 4 of the Glow Dust ingredient's effects. You can also select the optional 'Display all recipes' flag to show all the recipes, some ingredients can create some awesome potions with 6 effects. Play around with it and see what you find!
For now you can use CTRL+F to search through the results if there are too many. Improvements to allow easy searching and filtering of results are in the works.
This web application allows you to choose which ingredients you want to use and it will automatically find you the highest value combination to create. It is very useful if you have a surplus of several ingredients with unknown properties.
Alchemy is arguably the most time-and-cost efficient way to make money in Skyrim; the ability to make money is limited by the money each vendor has (which in turn is a function of time), perks that the player has and the odd way that potions are priced by the game over time.
In general, making money from potions is determined by:
- Expenses (the cost of raw materials, the time cost to gather ingredients or travel to vendors),
- The effectiveness of the potion-brewing process and base value of potions made, and
- The ability to sell the potions over time (i.e. finding a trade route which will let the vendors' money replenish as you get to them).
To reach level 100 Alchemy, approximately 200,000 septims worth of potions needs to be brewed. As early as level 10 one could be making over 1,000 from a single potion. For example: from a single dungeon, one could extract 100 or more Chaurus Eggs and a simple walk around Whiterun's outskirts at twilight can provide several Luna Moth Wings. This results in a rather valuable Invisibility potion.
Purchasing raw materials from vendors is generally efficient, because it avoids much of the time cost associated with finding many raw materials in the wild. However, for rare ingredients, a lot of time can be lost traveling to specific merchants.
In general, you should buy every ingredient (except elemental salts) in shops that are less than about 60 septims because the return ratio is astronomically high for even the weakest of potion types. There is almost no correlation between an ingredients cost or rarity and the potential value of the potion you can create from it. In fact, some of the most expensive and rare ingredients make the lowest valued potions and vice versa. The Giant's Toe (cheap but somewhat rare) in particular has the potential to create the highest value potions in the game at low levels (Giant's Toe + Wheat + Creep Cluster).
The same general tips used for leveling are applicable for improving the profitability of potions with a high vendor price: buffs, gear and to a limited extent, Fortify Alchemy potion effects will all help improve potions that the vendors are willing to buy. It should be noted, however, that each vendor has a limited amount of money, and it is possible to empty a vendor's pockets with a single potion.
As mentioned before, the "base value" of a potion does not always reflect the vendor price, but a potion that a vendor wants can be brewed stronger, for a better sale price.
Sales and Trade Routes
All vendors in the game, even with perks, have a limited amount of money; the Thieves' Guild fences have deeper pockets (about 4,000 septims), but very valuable potions will drain even those quite quickly. Once you have calculated and produced the most valuable potions, the remaning effort will be spent developing trade routes which will allow each vendors' money to refill as the player comes around to sell their wares.
This is a web application that is intended to help you find the most profitable potions to create from your ingredients. It can help if you want to level your skill quickly, but also if you're only interested in making potions to sell.
Start with an ingredient you have lots of; this app will find the most profitable effect this ingredient has, and what your options are for the second ingredient in the potion. Once you have figured out the first two ingredients, you will be given a list of options for the third ingredient, ordered by profit.
Advanced Alchemy-Enchanting-Smithing Power-Crafting
Exploit For Extremely Powerful Weapons And Armor: Overview
Recommended once you have leveled Alchemy, Enchanting and Smithing to 100 and have all perks which grant bonuses to these skills. Using Alchemy & Enchanting to amplify each other, so-called "Ultimate Weapons" and armor can be made using Smithing. This technique uses gear and stacking potion buffs to enchant gear with powerful buffs which in turn allow one to create stronger potions.
To begin, start by wearing any existing Fortify Alchemy gear you have on hand. Then, use Alchemy to create a couple of potions of Fortify Enchanting, which allows the player to create stronger enchantments of Fortify Alchemy. The player can now create a stronger potion of Fortify Enchanting, and so on, building on each other.
Method 1 (Basic) - Step 1: Set Initial Alchemy Buffs
Usually the player can enchant a set of four items with a skill fortification (Fortify Alchemy and Fortify Smithing only; Fortify Enchanting only exists as a potion). An exploit allows the player to wear both a Falmer helmet and a circlet and retain both effects additively [PC, PS3 & Xbox].
Add +25% Fortify Alchemy enchantments on a Falmer Helmet, a ring, a necklace, gloves/bracers and a circlet. Wear all of the enchanted equipment.
If you are unable to get the max +25% bonus, capping at only +20% instead, you may need to patch on Xbox or PS3.
Method 1 (Basic) - Step 2: Create Stronger Fortify Enchanting Potions
Make a Fortify Enchanting potion. Have all your enchanting materials and armor on hand, as the potion's effects only last for 30 seconds. With this potion, you should be able to create +29% Fortify Alchemy and +29% Fortify Smithing enchantments, the maximum on gear. With the Dual Effect enchanting perk, three pieces may serve double duty: a ring, a necklace and gloves/bracers will hold both enchantments. Wear the new Alchemy gear.
Note: After the newest patch, 28 seems to be the new maximum. (Confirmed PS3)
Method 1 (Basic) - Step 3: Create Stronger Fortify Smithing Potions
With +29% Alchemy gear on, you should be able to create +147% Fortify Smithing potions [Tested PS3] and Fortify Enchanting potions.
At the end of this stage, the player should have four pieces of +29% Fortify Smithing gear (gloves/bracers, armor, necklace and ring) and +147% Fortify Smithing and Fortify Enchanting potions. Using these, powerful weapons and armor can be enchanted and improved.
Method 2 (Advanced): Using Fortify Restoration Potion Exploit
This method was reported to produce +280% Fortify Enchantment potions, which allowed the creation of items such as Dragonscale Armor (Legendary) with an armor value of 5,793, Health +141 and Health Regeneration 70% faster, value of 100,126 gold.
Having 100 in Smithing, Enchanting and Alchemy are recommend to shorten the process and reduce the number of Fortify Restoration potions needed, but the nature of the exploit permits starting very early-on with fairly weak items and abilities provided enough Fortify Restoration potions can be created.
Before Beginning The Cycle
- a. Have two of your highest level Fortify Restoration potions, and ingredients for many more (about 20).
- b. Have the ingredients for as many Fortify Enchanting and Fortify Smithing as possible on hand.
- c. Have the following gear on hand
- Falmer helmet (Fortify Alchemy)
- a circlet (Fortify Alchemy)
- a ring (Fortify Alchemy + Fortify Smithing)
- a necklace (Fortify Alchemy + Fortify Smithing)
- gloves/bracers (Fortify Alchemy + Fortify Smithing), and
- armor (Fortify Smithing).
- The level unaided is usually 25% at 100 skill Enchanting/Alchemy, but this exploit is so massive it really doesn't matter, as long as you have some value of Fortify Alchemy on those items.
Take all of your Fortify equipment off to take advantage of the Fortify Restoration Potion exploit.
Method 2 - Step 1 (Amplification Cycle)
Drink the first Fortify Restoration potion. Then drink the second.
(It is not known whether it is necessary to leave the inventory screen prior to consuming the second potion. The Fortify Restoration potion will enhance the skill once, but it will also enhance the enhancements once as well. Additional Fortify Restoration potions will not grant any bonuses, so only consume the two).
Edit: Basic strategy is simpler than this. A- Make the potion / B- Go into potions menu and drink the potion / C- DO NOT LEAVE MENU: go to apparel, unequip alchemy gear, then re-equip alchemy (It's now stronger while potion lasts) / D- Repeat A through C six or seven times and make smithing or enchantment or whatever potions. Even with low alchemy skill you will have amplified the power of these potions 1000's of times higher. The real key here is when you go from alchemy table to your menu -DO NOT LEAVE THE MENU UNTIL AFTER YOU DRANK POTION AND UNEQUIPPED AND RE-EQUIPPED YOUR ALCHEMY GEAR-
Method 2 - Step 2 (Amplification Cycle)
Wear all of your Fortify Alchemy equipment. (If done correctly, all of Fortify Alchemy levels on the items are now much larger than before.)
Method 2 - Step 3 (Amplification Cycle)
Make 2 new Fortify Restoration potions and exit Alchemy. Once out of Alchemy crafting, wait for the timer to run out on your initial Fortify Restoration potion effects.
Method 2 - Step 4 (Amplification Cycle)
Once time has run out on the initial Fortify Restoration potions (check this under "Magic" > "Active Effects") take off all of your Fortify Alchemy equipment.
Method 2 - Step 5 (Amplification Cycle)
Start again at Step 1, and repeat until you get the amplified results you want on Fortify Restoration.
Note that values of the Fortify Restoration potions created at the end of the cycle are temporarily inflated by the potions still in effect, so will appear much higher than their actual values until the potion effects wear off. (For example: while the timer is still running on the Fortify Restoration potions, the value of the newly created ones will be listed as +1633%. After the timer expires "true" value of the potions will be +531%.)
Once you have the desired values of Fortify Restoration potion, mass produce them for future use.
Method 2 - Step 6 (Super-Potion Creation)
Drink two Fortify Restoration potions, don all your Foritfy Alchemy gear, then make a number of Fortify Enchanting and Fortify Smithing potions.
Method 2 - Step 7 (Ultimate Gear Creation)
The Fortify Enchanting and Fortify Smithing super-potions should allow you to create or improve very powerful gear.
Note that with Smithing, the potions only affect the improving of the weapon/armor, not the initial forging, so looted items are just as useful as created items.
(For example: 280% Fortify Enchanting potions and Soul Gems (Grand) should result in gear effects such as a 101% reduction in magicka allowing for free spellcasting, or + 82% magicka resistance allowing for the possibility of total immunity/resistance to magic effects. As another example +380% Fortify Smithing potions can be used to improve one-handed Daedric Swords to do 375 damage.)
Variation On Method 2 - Unlimited Fortify Restoration (Tested PC)
Fortify Restoration Potion Exploit With No Waiting (Tested PC/PS3/Xbox)
- Proceed as detailed in Method 2, but do not wait for the Fortify Restoration active effect timer to run out. Take off Fortify Alchemy gear, drink the stronger Fortify Restoration potions, and put Fortify Alchemy Gear back on. The Fortify Restoration active effect timer will reset to 60 secs and the gear will retain all bonuses, making it even stronger. Create two new Fortify Restoration potions and repeat ad infinitum. Once the appropriate level of Fortify Restoration is reached, create potions of Foritfy Smithing and Enchanting, then enchant and improve armor.
- This exploit was reported as creating:
- Potion of Fortify Smithing +2,305,048% with a value of 25,052,022 and
- Potion of Fortify Enchanting +576,262% with a value of 4,361,810.
- It was also reported that using the above potions, Daedric Armor was improved to have Armor of 664,347 and value of 71,419,736. Using the Fortify Enchanting potion to attempt to enchant this armor with Fortify Destruction, resulted in a game crash, possibly because the effect variable was too high. It has been suggested that there is probably a "sweet spot" value somewhere between 100% and 255% magicka reduction that can be enchanted without causing a crash, although for practical purposes 100% is all that is necessary.
- NOTE: It has also been confirmed (X360) when a weapon has ridiculous enchantment levels (ex: 1,253,302% Fire damage), although this won't crash the game at this level you CANNOT recharge the weapon with soul gems anymore. This means when it runs dry the enchantment is gone. The logic suggests with so high a reservoir, the code cannot use what piddly charge gems give to ever refill the monster weapon you've made. The work around to this issue is simple: Enchant the weapon normally (ex: +25 fire damage, or +35 shock damage), then instead use your uber-smithing potion. This will make physical power (which requires no recharge) ridiculous, and you can charge your enchantments normally.