No, I am not crazy.
Yes I am aware that pot training (heh) costs 20-30gp/exp, caviars are unbuyable, and everyone and their ogres are training to get extreme potions. The Herblore Exp source I am avocating is simply: Cleaning Herbs. Herb cleaning, not only provides decent exp rates, can also be one of the more profitable activities in game (more below). Because of the large amount of GP involved, however, the activity can be quite dangerous to your financial health if the risks are not properly managed.
This might be pointing to the obvious, but all that requires to clean a herb is left click. More importantly, it is one fo the few activities ingame with no animation delay associated with it. It is theoretically possible to clean as much as 6k herbs a hour, although 3-4k is more reasonable and quite manageable. Herb cleaning provides around 8-14 exp a herb, and averages about 100 gp profit each, so it's completely reasonable to expect about 35k (3.5k x 10) herblore exp and 350k (3.5k x 100) gp a hour from herblore cleaning alone. Even if herblore exp is only worth 20gp/exp to you, that's over 1m/hour of wealth you're generating.
If it is so good, why isn't everyone doing it? The obvious reason is that many people don't enjoy repetitive clicking. The potential physical strain aside, I personally enjoy the fact your exp rate is dependent on your real life ability to focus and click rapidly. An alternative explanation is that for most of rs history, grimy herbs costs more than clean ones, so player no longer bothered with it.
Everything changed with the extreme potion update, though. The once stagnant herbs market suddenly fluctuate on daily basis with thousands of herbs rapidly changing hands. With nearly tripling of profits in herbs, more players switched their MTK options to herb rather than raw fish or flax, and more farmers planted their herb seeds regularly. This lead to an rapid increase in both supply and demand of herbs and as a result constantly changing herb-cleaning profit/lost ratio.
What does this mean for herb cleaning profits? One is that it has become much easier to purchase grimmies. Lucky for us, much of the additional herb supplies come from players whom do not have the herblore level to clean it, and rather than going through the hassle of using the assist system, simply tossing the herbs onto the GE for us to purchase. Second, because the herbs market change on daily basis, a profitable herb-cleaning for one day may not be for the next, or just unbuyable the next. This requires an careful study of the market before every herb cleaning session. Finally, players need to know the underlying worths of herbs, to avoid losing GP on pricing bubbles (merchanting clans have been active in the area. I learned this the hard way: collecting 5k of Grimy Dwarf Weed and watched it dropped 2k each!)
This seems awfully allot of work, but lucky, we have allot of brilliant runescapers whom have laid the foundation for us already. RuneWiki, as usual, have several herblore related calculators premade, but the most important of which for us is:
This gives us a quick visual breakdown on what herbs are currently profitable for clean. The guidance it provide is insufficient, however, and several caveats must be observed. While many low level herbs are profitable (<50), their grimmies are generally are not in great supply. In general, only higher level herbs such as Snapdragon and Dwarf Weed can be purchased rapidly (there's essentially zero supply of Grimy Torstol). At the same time, higher level herbs tend to cost more and can tie up significant amount of GP if it doesn't immediately sell. Because of the danger of price crashing, it's always better to purchase earlier after in a GE update cycle rather than near the next GE update cycle. Remember, herb cleaning and price merchanting are two different activities that may not work optimally together.
A final caviet is that the RuneWiki calculator does not always update immediately, and the HTTP parser round off higher pricing herbs to three significant digits, and thus can affect the profit outlook of herb cleaning. The lesson is always double check the pricings before purchase at GE. As a bonus, I also created my own GE parser* using Google Docs that provides more up-to-date numbers.
Herb Cleaning is an overlooked but profitable and efficient way to raise herblore. I hope this may help someone out there also looking to enjoying the wrath of Super Antifires! Here are some final numbers and tips I'll leave:
35k+ Herblore exp/hr
350k+ GP profit/hr (in addition)
60+ herblore level (higher level can clean additional herbs)
5M+ startup money
Never hold more than 2k of a herb time at the same time!
The bank for herb cleaning is in the Dueling Arena, because it has both one-click banking and a banker that allows you to collect GE purchases.
Special thanks to the brilliant brainymidget for his guide onGE parsing using Google Doc.