Making Gold with Alchemy


Before we get into the meat of the post, don't forget BlizzCon is today and tomorrow. MMO-Champion has a complete schedule that adjusts to your current time zone. Some of the highlights for the gold-making community that you might want to pay attention to through MMO-Champ or Wow Insider:
  • Expect the next expansion to be announced during the Opening Ceremonies and then elaborated on during the World of Warcraft Preview slot. This will give us some clues about what to expect (and possibly when to expect) about the new expansion. Which may or may not include Pandas.
  • The Class Talent System session is a new piece to the schedule this year. You don't spend an hour at your big annual convention talking about adding a few more points and talents to the existing system. I expect some major changes (again) to the talent system. Glyphs could be affected. There could be a 4th talent tree added (doubtful) or some additional means of customizing your character's talents (possibly even a profession to make it happen like Inscription in Wrath).
  • On day 2, we could see some news during the Class/Profession/Item Q & A about a new profession, plans for gold-sinks in the economy, raising the Gold-cap, the future plan as it related to craftable epics and epic gems.

And now, on to Alchemy...

I have a love/hate relationship with Alchemy. It’s incredibly powerful as a quick profit profession through the incredibly profitable daily transmutes. But how do we use it to make money consistently?

The Great Alchemy Nerf
One of the problems with alchemy in Cataclysm was the introduction of the guild level system. There were two problems that added up to a major nerf for alchemists interested in flask production. First, supply increased exponentially as people leveled alchemy and began working on the Better Leveling Through Chemistry guild achievement: Create 3,000 flasks and you unlock the Big Cauldron of Battle. Raiding guilds that fueled the flask market were now flooding that market on their way to getting cauldrons.

This reduced flask prices to the cost of mats or lower, even with procs factored in. Exacerbating the problem, guilds could now get away with using 12 flasks to produce enough for a 25m raid thanks to the Happy Hour guild perk. This effectively reduced demand among raiding guilds by about 50%. Then there's Chug-A-Lug (Rank 2) that doubles the duration of a flask from the cauldron. Raiders are now using 12 flasks in a 25m raid to replace 50 flasks. Puggers also have to buy fewer flasks as they fill out spots in a guild run that has the cauldron. Ouch.

Now, news from the PTR suggests the cauldrons are becoming Battle.net Account Bound, so they'll be usable on your non-alchemist toons as well. Most guilds have the perk already, but this only hurts the flask market more.

So What Works?
There are still some great options for making money with Alchemy. Obviously, all of these will be dependent on your server’s prices, so take my gold numbers with a grain of salt. Research what’s viable for your server and act accordingly.


  • Daily Transmutes: Do your daily every day. It’s free profit. Truegold and Living Elements are both viable at this time, though we don't know for sure that there will be Truegold used in crafting the new items in 4.3. I expect it will, but that's just conjecture at this point. For me, Truegold costs 550-600g to produce on average and sells for about 750g after the AH cut. Air and Water transmutes cost me around 10g for the Volatile Life and sell for around 25g each. If you’re a Transmutation Master, Truegold might be best as the procs are 750g pure profit versus 50-100 for the living element procs, which can't be controlled like the intial 14-16 that all alchemists get.

    To determine which is most profitable, figure out the average sell price of all your volatiles (Earth, Fire, Air, Water) and multiply by 3.5 (average of 3-4 procs per cast). So if your average price is 12g, your daily proc value is 42g. (12g * 3.5) If Truegold has a 15% proc rate, you'll get one approximately every 7 tries. Multiple your Living Elements proc value (42g) by 7 (now 294g) and compare it to your average Truegold sell price. Whichever is higher is the one you should be making if your only plan is to sell the materials. (Note: this assumes your daily profit on Truegold is similar to your daily profit on Living Elements. For completeness, add your daily profit * 7 to both numbers above to get a more accurate picture of which is best to transmute.)
  • Potions: Have you noticed you haven’t looted any potions from mobs since Cataclysm launched? That’s because they aren’t available. Raiders need your potions, so you might be able to make some gold here. With new 5-mans coming in 4.3, even dungeon goers might buy them to help ease the learning curve on the new dungeons, assuming they are a similar jump in difficulty to the Zandalari ones from 4.1. Reports from the PTR say the new instances are a little easier, but my guess is that they are tuned down for testing the mechanics. Difficulty will be raised for release and reduced over time. There's also the release of the Looking For Raid feature to bolster sales.
  • Flasks: They aren’t profitable on my server with my methods of acquiring materials, but they could be on yours, especially if you have a good supply network.
  • Vanity Items: Mageshadow did a summary of three popular ones: Giant Growth, Deepstone Oil, and Illusion.
  • Primal Might: It comes from a limited supply recipe and is needed for the transmute master quest. It also is used for a wide variety of Burning Crusade Era armor and weapons, which could see a bump in crafting with the introduction of Transmogrification. Enchanters also need it for their Runed Adamantite Rods.
  • Oils: There are some low-level, low-cost oils that can be applied to weapons for buffs while leveling. You’ll need to advertise in trade chat to sell them consistently.
  • Vial of the Sands: Demand is pretty slow for the item on my server, but if you can make it, you might be able to profit off it.
Tips For Optimizing Your Alchemy Income
Some of these tips can be used across professions, but here are some helpful ones for boosting your Alchemy income:
  • Consider crafting items in bulk. I generally keep Transmutation Master active for the procs while I gather supplies for potions or flasks. Then, I switch specializations, craft in bulk and go back to Transmutation Master. For reference, the master trainers are Lorokeem in Shattrath City (Elixer/Flasks), Lauranna Thar'well in Cenarion Refuge (Potions), Zarevhi in The Stormspire (Transmutation). You have to factor in the cost of the specialization switch (150g each, 300g total) to your profit calculations.
  • Don’t sell your daily transmute for less than the cost of Truegold - Materials or Most Expensive Volatile – Volatile Life * 15. For example, if Truegold is 750 on your server and the materials are 500, selling your CD for less than ~250 is losing money.  Bypassing the Auction House is worth something, but not 200g.
  • Never “toss in” or discount your transmute procs. If you proc a Truegold and “toss it in” for 200g, you’ve just lost 550g on the deal. Sell them on the AH or for the real value.
  • Sell your rare quality gem transmute services. Some Jewelcrafters don’t have alchemy and will be interested in buying your transmute services for Carnelian to Inferno Rubies. 5-10g/transmute is a very reasonable price, but get what you can based on your server's current prices. Remember to keep the transmute procs to sell yourself, or sell them for something close to the actual value of the gems. Use material costs + your transmute cost (that 5-10g above) as a starting point.
What tips do you have for the budding alchemist? Any hidden gems in your alchemy routine you want to share with others?

I consider myself a somewhat casual auctioneer. I can be found via Twitter @Aleithia3. I also like getting email at Aleithia AT jasonthedce DOT com. Send me your questions and I'll try to write about them on the site.

5 comments: on "Making Gold with Alchemy"

  1. The living element procs are controlled by where you are when you transmute. For volatile water, go to Vash'jir, for air, Uldum, for earth, go to Deepholm. Check the AH, see what volatile is in demand, and profit!

  2. Actually there is a way to control what you get when doing the Living Elements transmute.

    Check out wowwiki transmute page. It breaks down how you can get specific elements.

    Vashj'ir = Water
    Mount Hyjal = Fire
    Uldum = Air
    Deepholm = Earth

    Any non- cata area will result in a random volatile.

    Otherwise good read.

  3. It seems like he is explaining that the EXTRA procs you get as a transmute master on top of the 14-16 Living Elements cannot be controlled, which is correct.

    As in, I transmute Life to Air in Uldum, and I also proc a few Fire today "uncontrolled" as a result of my specialization.

  4. He was saying the extra 3-4 that proc from being a transmute master are random. You can force the first 14-16 but not then 3-4 you get extra. This did bring up a good point on truegold vs elements for me though, thank you for the post.

  5. Dankhops and Amets are correct in their explanation. The bonus volatiles, the "procs" that are only available to transmutation masters, can not be controlled. The initial 14-16 can be controlled in exactly the manner that tweell/Anonymous point out.

    @tweell: Unfortunately, the process for calculating profit is not as easy as which volatile is most profitable today, plus potential procs, verses the profit from Truegold vs. Living Elements over the course of a week with a all procs factored in. That's why I posted the formula for figuring out overall which is more profitable.

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