Vial of the sands is a mount craftable by alchemists that can be sold to anyone. The mount was added in cataclysm and it is the single most profitable recipe in the game.
Since I got the recipe 1 hour before Legion launched i have sold 31 Vial of the Sands, and my total revenue is 1,7 million gold. My profit is somewhere between 300-400k over that period. There are tons of people who have made millions on this recipe alone.
The mount transforms you into a drake, and lets someone ride on your back. This unique effects leads to a much higher demand for this mount than pretty much any other expensive mount in the game (although the other ones are very good as well).
So lets look at the advantages of this mount from a gold making perspective:
- High demand
- Very high barrier to entry (Farming the recipe is horrible)
- Very high capital requirements (every mount requires 29k gold in vendor mats)
- Hard to farm mats required
Obviously a lot of the advantages means that farming the recipe and crafting the mount is horribly inconvenient. The main disadvantage is the difficulty in getting the recipe. Although the mats are rare, if you regularly shop for them you will most likely find good deals.
Farming the Vial of the Sands recipe
The recipe is found through archeology. Specifically through solving the tol’vir common artifact Canopic Jar. The chance of a jar containing the recipe is about 10% for characters with alchemy, and the chance of getting a canopic jar when starting a new artifact is around 12. Tol’vir digsites only spawn in Uldum, so farming it by hoping there is a digsite there is horrible from a time point of view.
The most efficient way to farm tol’vir fragments is to use the Mantid artifact hunters kit from Mists of Pandaria. Mantid dig sites are small, and they are all in Townlong Steppes and Dread Wastes, so farming them is fast. You can then turn in your crated artifacts for tol’vir fragments at the Throne of Knowledge. To do this you first need to get to 600 archeology skill so you can do digsites in pandaria. And you need to farm Lorewalkers Exalted for the artifact hunters kit. Lorewalkers is easy to farm using the HandyNotes addon, which has a module for the Lorewalkers scrolls.
Farming the recipe can take from 5 to 100 hours depending on your luck, so no one will blame you if you decide to not do it.
I got very lucky and got the recipe on my third Canopic Jar, so I likely underestimate the effort required to get this recipe. Wowhead commenters have solved upwards of 70 Jars before getting the Recipe.
Is it profitable?
If/when you farm the recipe make sure that crafting it is profitable on your realm. As the materials required are very rarely farmed their prices vary to a large degree on the Auction House. To help you with this I have made a spreadsheet where you can input your current prices and see what the crafting cost is for a Vial of the Sands. An important part of crafting this mount i to stay on top of materials, and buying when they are cheap. Volatility is super high, so dont be afraid to splurge if there are bargains. Particularily for the hardest to farm materials: Azshara’s Veil, Deepstone Oil/Albino Cavefish and Volatiles.
I am currently sitting on large stockpiles of all the materials outside of Truegold, as I cant get enough cheap volatiles. Buying when you see good prices is extremely key to keep up your profits.
Maximizing your profit
Maximizing your profit is primarily about sourcing materials cheaply and keeping your mounts on the Auction House.
Another great tip to maximizing your profit is to have several alchemists that can transmute Pyrium bars. On my server this transmute is worth about 300 gold per, and this increases my profit per Vial by about 3600 gold, which is a lot. I am currently running three alchemists with daily Pyrium transmutes. I’ll probably level one or two more soon to truly be self-sufficient.
Remember that the Vendor Materials are only sold in Uldum. You might want to stock up when you’re there depending on how much capital you have, to limit the number of needed trips.
For posting operations in TSM its pretty straightforward. Post 1 at a time, and put crafting+whatever minimum profit you are comfortable with as the minimum price. I strongly suggest canceling and reposting often. Doing this a couple of times throughout the day on the Armory app will usually yield faster sales.
I wont necessarily recommend farming the recipe, as it is horrendously time consuming, but the end results are pretty fantastic if you do. If i had been posting more aggresively, my profits would probably be even higher (I have prioritised enchanting and Jewelcrafting lately).