A Skyrim alchemy guide is particularly useful huge amount of potential for brewing up potions and poisons in the game. Unfortunately, Alchemy is one of the harder skills to level up in Skyrim as, unlike Conjurers and Illusionists, an Alchemist can't just wander around Skyrim doing alchemy stuff until they max their stats. Because there's a lot more work involved we’ve put together this Skyrim alchemy guide to help you increase your alchemy skill as quickly as possible. There are four ways to level up faster: crafting potions, using skill trainers, reading skill books, or completing specific quests.
Before you do anything though make sure you find the The Thief Stone, found among the Guardian Stones southwest of Riverwood. Using this stone will level Alchemy up 20% faster. The Well Rested buff, gained by sleeping, can add an additional 10% boost, or the Lover’s Comfort buff, gained by sleeping with your spouse, adds a 15% XP boost.
Depending on how much you want to boost your skill, you may want to first increase your Enchanting skill to help create Alchemy-boosting gear - we have a Skyrim Enchanting guide for tthat.
IMPORTANT: As you are boosting, make sure to add skill points to the following Alchemy perks to further increase your levelling speed: Alchemist, Physician, Benefactor, and Poisoner.
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Skyrim alchemy leveling methods
1. Level up by crafting potions from Giant’s Toes & Wheat
Giant’s Toes and Wheat are the unlikely keys to Alchemy leveling. Combining these two easily-obtainable ingredients yields one of the highest value potions and is quite possibly the quickest and easiest way to level up your Alchemy skill.
Giant’s Toes are especially valuable in the Alchemy process, so slaughter every walking skyscraper you see during your travels. Giant camps are marked by Mammoth Skulls on your map. If you haven’t found any yet, there are two camps right next to each other in the valley between Whiterun and Windhelm, as seen below. You can also sometimes find Giant’s Toes for sale at Alchemy shops.
As for wheat, lots can be found at the Brandy Mug, Hlaalu, and Hollyfrost farms, all found immediately east-southeast of Windhelm, and all are very near each other. Harvesting wheat from these fields is not a crime, and in no time you’ll have more than you know what to do with.
Adding a Creep Cluster to these two ingredients gives you one of the most valuable mixtures in the game, although it’s only about 30% more valuable than the basic wheat and giant toe mix. So it's up to you if you want to spend the time finding a third ingredient. If you do want to do the extra legwork, Creep Clusters are quite abundant and can be found by starting at Windhelm and heading south by foot. You’ll find some on the rocks beside the round, near the geysers south of Bonestrewn Crest, around the Atronach Stone (directly south of Bonestrewn Crest), and around the Riverside Shack.
Because Wheat and Creep Clusters are so extremely abundant and easily obtained for free, you can forego the Giant’s Toes if you want and just use these two ingredients. The resulting potion is not nearly as valuable as the above combinations, but you'll get quantity over quality and avoid fighting giants.
2. Buy out shops to craft potions you can sell back
If you’re tired of tracking down Giant’s Toes, an alternative method to quick levelling is to find any Alchemist, buy out all of their stock, create potions like a mad scientist, then sell everything you’ve made back to the vendor to get your original gold back.
3. Use Enchanting to improve Alchemy
You can disenchant gear that has the Fortify Alchemy enchantment in order to learn this skill and then use it as you wish on headgear, necklaces, rings, and gloves. You can find pre-enchanted gear randomly at shops or in the wild, but if you wish to take chance out of the picture, accept the “Mourning Never Comes” quest (given by Astrid of the Dark Brotherhood) and complete the optional objective along with the rest of the quest to receive Muiri’s Ring. You can also get the Ring of Pure Mixtures from the Forsaken Cave as part of a quest given by Frida from Dawnstar, but if you give the ring to her, you’ll have to steal it back or loot it from her corpse in order to disenchant it.
You can boost your Enchanting skill even more by drinking specific potions. This allows you to further increase the Fortify Alchemy enchantments, though the ingredients needed to make potions that increase your Enchanting skills may be hard to obtain and such potions only increase the maximum effect given by a piece of gear from 25% to 29%. Remember that both your Smithing and Enchanting skills have to be maxed out to achieve such numbers, and this is no easy task.
For console players, we also recommend enchanting a Falmer’s Helmet and a Circlet and wearing both at the same time. This is an exploit. Falmers’ helmets can be found in Mzinchaleft (pictured below), just southwest of Dawnstar, or on random Falmer corpses. Doing this allows you to wear five pieces of enchanted apparel at once as opposed to the usual limit of four.
4. Use Alchemy Skill Trainers
You can also pay coin to have your skill levelled up for you. There are three Alchemy trainers in Skyrim, each of whom also sells ingredients:
Lami runs Thaumaturgist’s Hut in Morthal. She is an Adept level trainer.
Arcadia runs Arcadia’s Cauldron in Whiterun. She is an Expert level trainer.
Babette can be found in the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary. She is a Master level trainer.
5. Find and read Alchemy books
There are five books to be found throughout Skyrim that enhance your Alchemy skill upon reading. Below you’ll find the locations for said books, though you only get the boost upon your first read.
A Game at Dinner
- The second floor of New Gnisis Cornerclub in Windhelm, on a table
- On a bookshelf found behind an expert locked door in Harmugstahl, a dungeon in The Reach
- In the second floor bedroom of Honningbrew Meadery in Whiterun, on a table
- In the lower level of Forsaken Cave in The Pale, found near the White Phial during the “White Phial” quest
- Near a lever in Dead Crone Rock, found west of Markarth
Song of the Alchemists
- On a table in Anise’s Cabin in Falkreath
- On the counter to your right as you enter Bard’s College
De Rerum Dirennis
- On a tree stump in an alchemist’s camp just north of Evergreen Grove (northwest of Falkreath)
- In the corner of Grave Concoctions in Falkreath
- On the corpse of an alchemist at Clearpine Pond (found west of Solitude)
- In the lab in The Midden (a dungeon under the College of Winterhold)
- At Sinderion’s Field Laboratory (in Blackreach, southwest of Winterhold)
Herbalist’s Guide to Skyrim
- Just beyond the door next to the Alchemy Lab in Arcadia’s Cauldron of Whiterun
- On a shelf behind the counter of the Hag’s Cure in Markarth
- In a chest in Journeyman’s Nook, located southeast of Winterhold
- On a shelf in Boulderfall Cave, a location just west of Shor’s Stone (which is north of Riften)
Mannimarco, King of Worms
- On an altar at Evergreen Grove (northwest of Falkreath)
- On the Alchemy Lab in Nightcaller Temple (east of Dawnstar)
- On the Alchemy Lab found just east of Dragon Bridge (southwest of Solitude)
- In an apothecary’s satchel near the water east-southeast of Winterhold, next to two skeletons
- At an altar southeast of Winterhold, next to Rundi’s corpse
6. Find and complete alchemy quests
There are a small number of quests that, upon completion, boost your Alchemy skill. They are as follows:
Discerning the Transmundane (+5 to Alchemy upon completion)
To begin this quest, seek out Septimus Signus in his outpost north of the College of Winterhold (pictured above). The quest is lengthy, but at the end, choose the ‘path of the thief’ for your stat boost.
Lami’s Misc. Quest (+1 to Alchemy upon completion)
Lami (she runs Thaumaturgist’s Hut in Morthal) is looking for a book called “Song of the Alchemists.” See the previous section for this book’s possible locations. Giving her the book, boost your stat, but don’t forget to read the book first for an additional alchemy boost!
Arcadia’s Misc. Quest (+1 to Alchemy upon completion)
Arcadia (she runs Arcadia’s Cauldron in Whiterun) is looking for some frost salts, which are dropped by Frost Antronachs.
Frida’s Misc Quest (+1 to Alchemy upon completion)
Frida (found at The Mortar and Pestle in Dawnstar) is looking for the Ring of Pure Mixtures. You can find it inside the Forsaken Cave (pictured above).
Inge Six Fingers’ Misc Quest (+1 to all stealth skills, including Alchemy)
Inge, who can be found at the Bards College, is looking for Finn’s Lute. You can accept the quest to find it from her directly, or find the lute first and present it to her. The Lute can be found in a chest inside Stony Creek Cave (location pictured above).