Transmutes are alchemy cooldowns that turn one material into another material on a cooldown. They are an excellent way to make some almost guaranteed gold every day, and you can get some of them on alts at level 35 for some semi-passive income after the initial leveling.
The transmute types
In classic there are two main types of transmutes: elemental transmutes and metal transmutes. The elemental transmutes turns one elemental essence into another at a 1 to 1 ratio. There’s also one transmute coming in phase 3 to turn one heart of fire three elemental fires. The transmutes have different cooldowns, ranging from 10 minutes to 48 hours. All of the long ones are on a shared cooldown, so you want to do the most profitable one you can.
There’s only really one metal transmute that is ever going to be relevant. Transmute: Arcanite, turns a thorium bar and an Arcane Crystal into an Arcanite Bar. The recipe is very easy to get as it is sold in unlimited supply by Alchemist Pestlezugg in Gadgetzan. The recipe requires skill level 275 though. Arcanite transmute has a 48 hour cooldown and it is quite in demand as Arcanite bars are used for a ton of in demand, high level crafting recipes like Thunderfury, Lionheart helm etc. This is the only way to create the bars, making it a safe staple. The long cooldown is a drawback however, and Arcanite bars have fairly high deposit costs. If you want to do this I suggest forking out for the materials and crafting it on cooldown, then you advertise in trade to sell the cooldown by trading finished bars for the materials plus a fee. This is much better than trying to find a customer when it is off cooldown, or trying to sell the bars on the AH.
The elemental transmutes have a 24 hour cooldown, which is great. They can generate half the gold of the arcanite transmute per cast, and still be better. The heart of fire transmute has a 10 minute non-shared CD according to wowhead, but there are some comments indicating it was changed. Either way this will most likely be by far the best transmute in the game. Right now it would generate about 15 gold per cast on my realm.
If we look at the list of transmutes, not all of them will be profitable. The interesting ones are:
- Undeath to water
- Earth to Water
- Life to Earth
- Water to Air
The others are typically not profitable due to supply and demand, so let’s take a look at them. The table below shows the profit according to mean region prices on EU based on BootyBayGazzette prices. On my realm, the best one I can craft is water to air however, so make sure you check prices on your realm.
Undeath to Water
This is perhaps the best one in the game. Essence of undeath is plentiful and cheap. It is used in a small number of end-game recipes, but it is generated by everyone running scholo and strat to a much greater degree than any other essence. Essence of water on the other hand is used in the best healing and spell damage enchants in the game, making them much higher in demand as undeath is only used in useless enchanting recipes.
The recipe is a random world drop and usually sells for a lot of gold. On my realm you have typically been looking at up to 3 months before you break even, so I would not necessarily advise you to buy this one, but it is the best one on paper.
Earth to water
Essence of earth is like Essence of undeath mostly used in gear crafting. This makes it lower in demand than water, but it is less plentiful than essence of undeath, which makes this transmute worse than undeath to water. It is still one of the better ones. To get it you need to be friendly with Timbermaw hold. The recipe is Bind on Pickup, so it cannot be traded. This makes it worse for lowbie alts, but it is a great one for your main, particularly if you cannot obtain undeath to water at a reasonable price.
Life to Earth
Living essences drop from the lashers in Dire Maul. This means they are generated in quite large numbers by farming mages. Their main use is in the +55 healing enchant, but they are so much easier to generate than Earth that they typically sell for quite a bit less. This recipe is a tradeable world drop like undeath to water. It is typically significantly cheaper. I bought mine for about 150 gold, which meant I needed to do the cooldown for about 1.5 months to pay it back, which I found OK. Once again you should scour the AH for the recipe to snag it cheaply. It cannot be target farmed, so buying is the only option.
Water to air
I have been using this one as it has typically been the best one on my realm. Air is used in the spellpower weapon enchant, the upcoming agility enchants as well as a decent number of high level crafting recipes like Robe of the Archmage and Force Reactive disk. It is fairly annoying to farm, with silithus being the only reliable source. This generally means that supply is fairly limited, which makes this transmute a great option. You get the recipe from Magnus Frostwake, a ghost vendor on Caer Darrow. You need the Spectral Essence from the Scholomance questline to talk to him. As this recipe is once again BoP this transmute will only be available for max level characters.
Check your realm!
Check the values of the various transmutes on your realm. Don’t go blindly into arcanite unless you really need a lot of it, or you can’t find anything better. Arcanite is great for alts however as the recipe is cheap, and easy to obtain. If you do arcanite I suggest pre-crafting and selling in trade as the deposit is way too high and you want to use the transmute on cooldown to not waste value.