Herblore is a very useful skill, used for the production of potions which have a variety of effects. Some are used for quests, others boost your stats temporarily, and a few heal Hitpoints. All involve the use of a base liquid (mainly water) in a glass vial, adding a certain Herb type to it, and then completing the potion with a secondary ingredient which rewards the exp.
It goes without saying that it'll take several tens of thousands of vials to 99 the skill, and therefore doing many vial runs are essential:
Lots of water-filled vials are for sale at the general store run by Aemad, located in Ardougne - 500 are stocked for only 2gp each.
The store run by Jiminua in the Tai Bwo Wannai village of Karamja also stocks 300 water-filled and empty vials for the same price as above, but it's much farther from a bank.
The act of transferring your substance from one piece of glassware to another. You can combine or split potions with multiple doses by using the potion on another potion of the same kind, or an empty vial. It can be very handy to condense potions to the maximum amount of doses (4) for one vial, as the amount of doses made from one herb+secondary is only 3. By doing a lot of decanting, you can free up extra vials to fill with water so you'll have to buy slightly less vials overall.
Herbs are obtained in small quantities as drops from monsters, but more often they are gotten through the Farming skill, as each patch can yield a decent amount of herbs. They are obtained "Grimy" and must be cleaned to be usable in potions; cleaning a grimy herb gives a small amount of Herblore experience each cleaning. Other ingredients are exclusively products of the Farming skill or found only in specific locations as item spawns or monster drops, some of which must be ground up with a Pestle and Mortar.
Level 1 - 38 : Starting out
Complete Druidic Ritual and Jungle Potion, easy quests which give Herblore experience. Black Knight's Fortress and Recruitment Drive can also be done for an addition 2250 Herblore experience. Doing the first two quests will result in level 14 Herb, doing all these quests results in level 20.
Either way, once you are done questing you will be able to or close to making Serum-207s. It will take 250 Serums from level 15, or 230 Serums after above quests, at level 20 to reach Level 38. It is recommended to make a few Antipoisons, Energy Potions, and possibly Restores along the way to hold onto until you're capable of creating the better versions of them, just in case you need them.
Level 38 - 45 : P.Pots
Start making Prayer potions. It will take 158 of these to bridge the gap to 45.
Level 45 - 82 : "do everything"
Continue making Prayer potions when possible, they are always useful and offer decent experience. Super Restores technically outclass these, but only by one Prayer point and take longer to make, because Red Spider Eggs take longer to accrue a large amount of than Snape grass. Since S.Restores also have other uses, you may want to hang on to them and use Prayer potions in situations where you're only losing Prayer.
Start making Super Attacks. From this point onward, you should make as many as you can of the highest levelled potion possible, with some exceptions. Here are some guidelines as to what potions should be made or not:
Make lots of
- Super Attacks (lv45). Eye of Newts are easily bought in large amounts.
- Super Strengths (lv55). To collect materials for a large amount of these, go to Edgeville Dungeon and kill Hill Giants and Hobgoblins. The nearby slayer master Vannaka gives them as tasks. You can also bring unfinished Kwuarm potions to the dungeon with you and finish them as you pick up the roots, then decant into 4-dose potions and drop the vials, leaving room for even more roots to bring back to the bank with you. Limpwurt roots are also able to be harvested in viable amounts from the Farming skill.
- Super Restores (lv63). Bring unfinished Snapdragon potions into Edgeville Dungeon, pick up the Spider Eggs, and mix the potions while you wait for the respawn. When all potions are mixed, decant into 4-doses and drop the vials. Pick up more Eggs and return to the bank.
- Super Defences (lv66). Whiteberries are obtained at a good rate through typical farming runs.
- Antifire potions (lv69). Use the unfinished potion method; you will also need to bring a Pestle and Mortar to Taverley Dungeon.
- Ranging potions (lv72). Again, use the unfinished potion method if you're collecting Wines of Zamorak from the Chaos Temple. Otherwise Kalphite Queen drops a great number of Wines, noted.
- Saradomin brews (lv81). Very easy to obtain a large number of bird's nests by killing the Giant Mole in Falador repeatedly and trading the mole parts to Wyson the Gardener.
These potions are generally useful with materials that are not too slow or unreliable to obtain in large quantities.
Make however many you think you'll need of
- Super antipoisons (lv48). There are many Unicorn locations.
- Super energy potions (lv52). Use the unfinished potion method in Morytania Swamp (requires completion of a few quests to access as well as harvest materials)
These potions are not generally applicable but you will want some for certain quests and ventures into the wilderness.
Potions to ignore most of the time
- Fishing potions (lv50), not very useful
- Weapon poison (lv60), blue dragon scales are slow to get a large amount of, and the poison is weak.
- Weapon poison+ (lv73), all of its materials are very slow to come by
- Antidote+ (lv68) and Antidote++ (lv79), require tree roots. Tree seeds are rare and slow to grow, and each grown tree only yields one root. If you end up over time having a sizeable stock of roots then these are useful to create a small stock of as they are better than super antipoisons.
- Magic potions (lv76), +4 Magic isn't normally very useful except to attain a certain level to cast a particular spell, only temporarily.
- Zamorak brews (lv78), Torstol seeds are pretty rare, and the potion is meant for melee combat but lowers HP. Has some niche uses such as with Dharok's armor set.
Level 82 - 99 : Be a merchant, be an exterminator
The quickest ways to grind it up to 99 are:
- Trading completed potions to people in exchange for their secondary ingredients. Since Herblore is a lengthy skill, often people do not grind it to high levels. At level 82 you have the highest functional Herblore level and can make any potion for anybody. Gathering the secondary materials for most potions is the lengthiest process.
- Making Saradomin Brews by killing the Giant Mole over and over to exchange parts for bird's nests, and grow exclusively Toadflax. Saradomin Brews give the second-most experience out of all potions and their materials can be gathered quickly in this way. You will need to make 25090 Saradomin Brews to reach level 99. (including the experience gained from cleaning the Toadflax)
- Zamorak Brews offer the highest experience rate, and their secondary ingredient (Jangerberries) is easily obtained in high quantity via the Farming skill by harvesting a player-grown Jangerberry bush or collecting the 4 spawns on the isle east of Castle Wars. However, the experience offered is very similar to that of the much more useful Saradomin Brew so is not recommended. You will still need to make 24827 Zammy Brews to hit level 99 from 82. (again including the experience from cleaning the Torstol herb as well)