User Manual - Essences Guide

The essences are one of the two principal components of the Enchantment skill. It's by harvesting and manipulating that the player can prepare future enchantments.
While other sources of essences will appear in future releases, at the moment disenchanting existing items is the principal way of gathering essences.

Disenchanting Wares

Enchantment enables you to gather essences from every magical item existing in Dragon Age by disenchanting it. Be aware, tho, that this process will leave the item completely bare : no magical property will be preserved. Also note that disenchanting one item won't give you the exact number of reagents required to imbue another item with the same magical bonuses. You will only recover a small amount of those required reagents.
Still, this is a good way of recycling old equipement. And you'll have at least one use for the free DLC items Bioware sometimes pushes down the lines. For instance, let's place my "The Edge" dagger on the Altar :
Screen capture When there is only one item on the Altar, the Enchantment skill will automatically determine the player is trying to disenchant it. Pretty much every piece of magical equipment can be disenchanted, and regular runes also work very well. Piece of advice : do try those Shale's crystals. They're very good essences sources...
Enough say. Let's hit the enchantment button ! Immediately a popup appear, giving you a fair warning :
Screen capture If you're confirming your desire of disenchanting the item placed on the altar, a message informs you of the result of the operation :
Screen capture And by checking the altar, you can now retrieve the essence(s) created, and what's left of your now non-magical item :
Screen capture Note that a configuration option - autostock - allows the gathered essences to be automatically transfered in your enchantment storage chest.

Unfortunately, your disenchantment process may also end up destroying the item you were stripping from its magical properties. At the moment, there is a 10% chance to see this happen by default, although you could easily change this through the addon configuration. You will nonetheless retrieve essences if the worst happens for your item.

Oh, and don't forget : you can disenchantment several items at a time. Any number of items up to a dozen or so is fine, but more than that all items may not be disenchanted and some will remain unchanged.