Emergency Preparedness, Tips & Techniques

Top Ten Bartering Items

By Marcy Young @ SOS
April 5, 2013

Here is a list of my top 10 bartering items.

1.  Alcohol – Small bottles of whiskey and vodka can be used for drinking and medicinal purposes, and you never know – there may be happy moments when we just want to lighten the mood and share a drink with family and friends. Knowing how to make your own beer or moonshine can bring great rewards too.

2.  Cigarettes – Even though no one in my family smokes, there will always be someone who will barter just about anything to get some smokes.  This can work for other forms of smoke too, which can be used for a wide variety of purposes, if you know what I mean.

3.  sealing-buckets1Food – Every time I get a 25 pound sack of dried foods like rice, wheat, oats, etc. I take one pound and put it away in a small mylar bag with an oxygen absorber.  This way I can have small varieties of food I can either give as charity or barter with without people seeing my full food supplies. Other good food to store for bartering include coffee, sugar, honey, fresh eggs, fresh milk, cheese, and most overlooked is salt.  Salt, salt, salt, do not forget to have extra salt for bartering.  Food for bartering should also include farm animals and byproducts.  Can you imagine what you could barter for if you were offering a pair of breeding rabbits?  Farm animals are more valuable because they will continue to produce food supplies.

4.  Water – If you have a water purification system like a Berkey you should keep aside about 10 – 1 gallon empty containers, old milk cartons work well.  This way you can fill up these one gallon containers with fresh purified water to barter with.  If you have a Berkey, I would also suggest storing at least one extra filter to barter with. The ability to have safe, clean drinking water is a must for everyone and will give you a very valuable barter item.

5. Security – Some people may not have the same point of view here but this is a valuable barter item just as well.  Security items for the home and self protection is not only a must for your own self but also for bartering.  Ammo and weapons should be stored properly for long life and safe keeping.  Security can also mean building structures, fences, traps, and security services that you provide.

hands6.  Seeds – Not just any seeds, they must be Heirloom Non-GMO seeds. I will go into the dangers of genetically modified seeds and food products in another post. For now, just know that the seeds MUST be an heirloom variety so that you can collect the seeds at the end of the growing season and replant them the following year. When the dollar fails, seeds will become a valuable asset and will be used as money. Remember the phrase, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The same is true for seeds. If you give or barter with food, that’s great, but giving someone the ability to continuously feed themselves year after year is priceless.

7. Medical Supplies – Many people have some medical supplies or at least a first aid kit within their homes but most are lacking greatly in medical trauma supplies. Bandaids can only go so far. Remember, when the grid goes down medical services will be limited or non existent. Simply stepping on a rusty nail can become life threatening during dire situations where a trip to the doctor and a tetanus shot is next to impossible. This is assuming the person is in good health to begin with. The people who have medical concerns or require medications are at the greatest risk and should plan accordingly. If they don’t plan now then bartering may be their only option.

8. dirtynails-e1334629650694Sanitation & Hygiene Supplies – I know this may not sound important compared to food and water but if you think about it, it is. When a disaster strikes, whether it be natural or man made, the creature comforts that people have grown accustomed to throughout their lives will no longer be there. No more daily showers and washing your hair with apple scented shampoo. No more flushing the toilet 10 times a day. Sanitation services that require power will no longer be functioning. This will quickly lead to diseases being spread rapidly. Have you ever worked all day outside during the hot summer days, maybe in the garden, in the barn, or around the yard, and you’re completely covered from head to toe with dirt and sweat? Think about that feeling you had when you finally step in to the shower just to see mud falling off your body from all the grime. Once you get squeeky clean you feel like a new person. That feeling should not be overlooked during stressful times. Small containers of shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes, combs, feminine hygiene products and so forth will bring you great rewards.

9. Sources of Energy – This would include gasoline, propane, batteries, lamp oil, and renewable resources like wind, hydro, and solar products. When people expect a major storm to strike their area one of the first places they go is the gas station. There are always people who hoard gasoline for bartering or selling to those who didn’t stock up. Some are more unscrupulous than others. I personally do not put a lot of stock in gasoline or propane but I do understand their importance. I personally feel that renewal energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro are far more valuable than finite resources like gasoline and propane. That being said, it will still make a great barter item for those who were unable to wean themselves off the stuff. A solar panel or wind turbine combined with a battery pack would make a far greater barter item but may be difficult to give up.

10. Skills & Knowledge – Last but not least is the ability to barter with your skills. Some people believe that if they just whip out their credit card and buy every survival item or gadget out there, they will be saved. Hallelujah! Some people put more value on items than they do their own brains. What good are those items if you don’t know how to use them? Items can bring you a false sense of security which can be your downfall. Your true power comes from the knowledge you carry with you and your ability to get you out of sticky situations. Cool gadgets may come in handy and make your existence a bit easier but will do nothing for you if you are not prepared mentally. Take time now to take classes, brush up on your skills and practice, practice, practice. You never know when that one bit of information you thought you never would ever need to know will actually save your life. Understand that you cannot know it all. Figure out where your strengths are, work on your weaknesses, and let go of the things you cannot grasp. Meet and network with your friends and neighbors now so you can find out who is the doctor, veterinarian, master gardener, and so on and be sure to let them know what you have to offer in return. Setting up those alliances now will help you when the time is right.

There are many other items that would be great for bartering.  Some items will be worth more than others, depending on what situation we’re facing. Think about what you would really want if times were tough and stock up on those items now.  You never know, simple things like toilet paper may someday be a luxury.


About myoung

Ben and Marcy Young are the owners of Southern Oregon Survival.


4 thoughts on “Top Ten Bartering Items

  1. I chuckled at the toilet paper comment! We should also have those little squeeze bottles we used after giving birth! If water is plentiful but toilet paper not – they will come in really handy! I call them “the poor woman’s bidet.”


    Posted by nancyleep | April 13, 2013, 4:12 PM
  2. Jars, jar ring, jar lids, canning supplies, etc. Those may be quite handy too!


    Posted by Gary Antley | June 19, 2013, 10:50 PM
  3. Guns, ammo, medical supplies, seeds, food. Shuffle those around however you wish but they will be the top 5. It depresses me to think in such a national or world event booze and cigs would be on anyone’s needs list. My guess is those people won’t be around too terribly long…


    Posted by LibertyDwells (@libertydwells) | June 20, 2013, 9:29 AM
  4. I would never barter any security items. Booze can be used for other things besides drinking. I am also going to be more inclined to stock propane since gasoline and diesel degrade to fast for my piece of mind. I’m a little hardhearted … if someone else did not prepare than for the most part I don’t see where my helping them is in my or my families best interest ..Sorry it would be helping the weak to survive and the strong to be weakened. I would consider bartering like for like such as seeds , plants or animals or animal products but that’s about it.


    Posted by Kathleen Millette Snyder | June 20, 2013, 10:23 AM

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