Professions 101 For Profit:
Alchemy with Shannon's Shenanigans
Elixirs are made using mainly Herbs around the same Level of the Elixir being made. These Elixirs provide a variety buffs which last for a long duration for the character when consumed, however these effects do not last when the character dies. The benefit of Elixirs are that they have 2 seperate categories of which both can be consumed to obtain 2 seperate buffs for the character. The categories are Guardian Elixir and the other is Battle Elixir. A Guardian Elixir gives the character a defensive type buff, where as the Battle Elixir gives the character an offensive type buff and when combined properly can compliment eachother very well when fighting enemies.
Flasks are made using mainly Herbs around the same Level of the Flasks being made. The Flasks provide a variety of strong buffs which will last after the character has died. Like the Elixirs the Flasks offer a long buff duration, however unlike the Elixirs there is only one category and so only one Flask at any given time may be used on the Character.
Potions are made using mainly Herbs around the same Level of the Potions. Potions provide a short duration buff but offer a extremely useful and strong buff for many in combat and out of combat situations.
Transmute is an ability Alchemists have that can take one material and convert it into another material. There are specific Transmutes that Alchemists can learn which can do a number of actions. Alchemists can Transmute Bars created from Smelting Ore (Smelting is an ability Miners have to turn Ore into Bars) and Several different Elemental materials as well. Alchemists can also Transmute Raw Gems (Gems can be obtained by the process of Prospecting using Jewelcrafting) into higher quality Raw Gems.
Alchemists can currently learn the skill Mixology which makes the effects of Flasks/Elixirs/Potions last longer and more effective. Alchemists can also create their own Trinkets which are created to improve the Character's stats as far as gear goes and also increase the effects of Flasks/Elixirs/Potsions.
Alchemists currently have 3 specializations they can choose from, such as Elixirs (and Flasks), Potions or Transmutation. These specializations help increase the chance of a extra creation of the item of the specialization.
Making Gold with Alchemy
Leveling Alchemy can be tricky as any profession can be so i decided to use my favorite source to help me minimize time/waste and i will also be adding my own take on leveling as far as how to make gold while leveling Alchemy.
I love www.wow-professions.com and always use it as a source for the amount of items i need to properly level a profession. I suggest you go to Alchemy Leveling Guide 1 - 525 to get started on Leveling however i want you to know my take on risks and benefits of leveling Alchemy and how you can help yourself out by making gold on leveling Alchemy
4I recommend if you are Leveling a new toon to pick Herbalism and Mining till you hit atleast level 40 and then drop Mining and then pick up Alchemy and use the saved up Herbs to level your Alchemy. Sell the materials you received on the AH or to someone you know will buy them. I personally would wait till you hit max level or close to it before dropping the other gathering profession as you gain Experience from Gathering Herbs/Ore from nodes and you Have more gold from the Mining as well.
Note: If you plan on buying all the materials to quickly level the profession make sure not to go ahead and buy all the materials needed to level the profession all at once since you aren't 100% sure if you need that exact amount, you might get lucky or unlucky with the amount needed to continue leveling.