Post-Collapse Bartering: This Overlooked Item Will Be a High Commodity

post collapse metal
Hey there, ReadyNutrition guys and gals!  Hope you’re all seeing a bit of thawing out now that spring is about to arrive.  This article is about some suggestions and reasons to start saving some metal for yourselves.  We welcome any comments and suggestions that you guys and gals have that entail the way you do this.  Some of you probably have your own anvils and a forge all built, ready to craft those broadswords and horseshoes.  This article is just to get those started on the idea who are at the other end of the spectrum.

With a complete societal collapse, the value of a simple thing such as a tin can will increase exponentially.  And why not?  The large steel plants of Pittsburgh and so forth may either be glowing radioactive craters or simply not functioning.  There are many things that we view as trash today and take for granted in our daily lives, but will have inestimable value when the SHTF.  We will outline some of the uses toward the end of the article for the different types of metals.

               JJ’s rule with metals: Save the metal in its original form

Steel food cans can be stripped of their labels, washed out, and allowed to air dry.  Put them in a bin.  Group your metal bins by type of metal.  You can further subdivide this category into form/function of the particular type of metal.  Aluminum beverage cans are another.  Try to get the can “whole,” that is, undented or uncrushed.  Keeping them in their original size and shape lends them more uses.  Aluminum beverage cans can be rinsed out and air dried as well.

How about silverware/flatware?  Imagine all of the good barter value that forks, spoons, and knives will have when they are not able to be obtained anymore.  Metal coat hangers are a keeper…they should have their own bin, all to themselves; and let’s not forget copper.  On this, it is good to save it in its original form.  Why?  You can always modify it later, but it is ready-made, for its original purpose!

Here is a chart you can use for the melting points of your metals:

Melting Points of Various Metals



  Melting Points
Metal Fahrenheit (f) Celsius (c)
Aluminum 1218 659
Brass 1700 927
Bronze 1675 913
Cast Iron 2200 1204
Copper 1981 1083
Gold 1945 1063
Lead 327 163
Magnesium 1204 651
Nickel 2646 1452
Silver 1761 951
Steel 2500 1371
Tungsten 6150 3399
Wrought Iron 2700 1482
Zinc 787 419

Try and concentrate on metals that are not painted or coated over with enamel or Teflon.  These are best left to some scrap metal dealer, not for you to deal with.  Iron and lead…. old cast iron pots and pans…. lead in the form of old curtain-corner weights, or lead from used batteries.  Make a bin for each metal and set it aside.

Some uses for what we have covered?  Take large, steel coffee cans or large food cans, for example.  You can make an excellent, small camp oven out of these, or fill them with cement and make a boat anchor out of them.  The aluminum beverage cans?  These are the early warning devices you can string up on your property with nylon line.  Punch holes in the bottom to allow for water drainage, and put a dozen pebbles in them.  They’re aluminum; therefore, they won’t rust.

Steel cans can be cleaned out well and be used for fish hooks, or coils of very-sharp, homemade/field-expedient “razor” wire for lining your windowsills with when the SHTF.  They can also be used (depending on the size) for small “cookers,” or even cooking “pots” if that is what remains to you.  You can make broad heads, spear points, or knives out of them.

  Remember:  All of these items can be used for barter, so use your imagination.

The most versatile are the coat hangers.  You can make almost anything out of them: handles and hooks for use on a campfire, skewers to roast fish, and a form of field-expedient wire, or fastener.  They can be unraveled to unclog drains, sinks, or toilets.  Their uses are only limited by the imagination.  They can even be used to hang clothes, hence their name “clothes hangers,” right?  Seriously, they are really great.

The bottom line is that all of these things that appear to not be worth much may appreciate in value.  If you can make a little space, allocate some bins and make a good metal collection.  Whether you’re going to make a new snare to trap game with or a new pot to melt shavings/pieces of soap with, you can find a use for these metals.  Long after the plants stop producing these metals, you may have a supply to work with for your needs for many years to come…after the SHTF.  Have a good one, and happy metal-gathering!


Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published March 29th, 2016
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4 Responses to Post-Collapse Bartering: This Overlooked Item Will Be a High Commodity

  1. Richard L Brown says:

    There are a lot of things that will be valuable WTSHTF but none as much so as ”
    Good Ole’ Toilet Paper”, it will be worth more than gold. Buy a bunch and store and when things really get bad, cut the rolls in half to double your supply. It can be used as intended or re-purposed as Kleenex Tissue, Wound Care, Bottle Plugs, Nose Bleed Plugs, Pee Leak or Menstrual Absorbent Material. Actual Menstrual Supplies will also worth gold in a bartering situation as well as Cheap Aspirin!

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      Mice love toilet Paper, store it in a PVC tube with end caps if you don’t want confetti. Put it up in the rafters in your garage.

      • SoftballUmpire says:

        Thanks for the tip. I wish I had thought of that. I just opened a storage compartment in my old Motorhome to discover the rodenta’s propensity to convert my neat rolls into their nesting site insulation.

  2. Chuck Findlay says:

    I save all kinds of stuff including metal. I’ve been buying rebar for the last year when I’m in the local box stores. I see it as useful if / when it hits the fan and people want windows protected from invasion. I also have a lot of angle iron I have saved over the years. Rebar, angle iron a welder, lag bolts and a drill could be handy hardening windows.

    I do handyman work and this could play into that line of work as I already have a customer base that uses me and trust the work I do.

    I also buy any lock, deadbolt or door securing device I find at garage sales for the same reason. Recently I bought a bag full of the door locks you see in motel rooms for $4.00, there must be 20 of them in the bag. All good stuff for a handyman to have in bad economic times.

    Another thing that may be handy is pop bottles. I live in the Toledo Ohio area and a few years ago we had several days where the water was unsafe to drink. Any water container was in demand during the bad water crises. I would imagine Flint is going through the same thing.

    Pop bottles (cleaned out and stored) are great for water. They are not too heavy for an older person to carry and over time you can collect quite a few of them for free.

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