Post-Collapse Survival Bartering: 10 Items That Will Be Worth Their Weight in Gold


As a nation, we are faced with a host of different problems from many directions, both domestically and internationally.  The statistical improbability of a disaster occurring (such as war or economic collapse) decreases with the passage of time and the addition of other factors that lead into such.  For a couple of good “primers” on collapse and warfare (overall effects on societies and civilizations), I recommend two by Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel,” and Collapse.”

When any kind of society or civilization becomes unraveled, usually the nation’s cash loses its value within days at the most.  We’re going to cover a few general categories of items to keep for barter (meaning “regular” or frequent trade), citing individual examples within each category.  In The Prepper’s Blueprint, the idea of bartering was covered extensively and it isn’t always acquiring tradable goods, but also tradable services.

If a long-term emergency causes an end to our existing monetary system and an end to the exchange of fiat currency that our world currently operates in, people will resort back to bartering for skills and services in order to make transactions.

Living in a bartering environment means one must possess certain goods or skills that others find value in. As Brandon Smith writes on the subject, ‘If you wish to survive after the destruction of the mainstream system that has babied us for so long, you must be able to either make a necessary product, repair a necessary product, or teach a necessary skill.'”

The Prepper’s Blueprint

Do Not Barter The Following Items:

Before I “hit the list,” I’m going to mention what I will not barter or only in an emergency, and why.

  • Ammunition, Firearms, or parts for firearms: The first two can be used against you, and the latter can be employed to fix something that can be used against you. [I will not barter with them ever]. That said, in a previous article, I mentioned the importance of knowing how to repair firearms. This is a barterable skill and one that will be of high importance in a post-collapse scenario.
  • Medicine: I need that for me and mine…and will not barter with it regularly [Only in an emergency…and never any antibiotics].
  • NBC gear and supplies: This takes the form of masks, suits, survey meters (Geiger counters), dosimeters, anti-rad tablets, and so forth [I will not barter with them ever]. To find these items for your preps, click here.

10 of the Best Items for Bartering

  1. Fire Starting Materials: Books of matches, disposable lighters, wicks and flints for Zippo’s. All these guys are worth their weight in gold in the event of a collapse.  Check out some of these fire starting materials for ideas. The great thing about this is they are always needed, simple to trade, and they don’t take up a lot of space to store.
  2. Over-the-Counter (OTC) First-Aid supplies: Small tins of band-aids, aspirin, Tylenol, antacid tablets, gauze bandages, first-aid tape, alcohol prep pads, cough and cold supplies. These are differentiated from “medicine” as I mentioned not to trade, in that they are small, sundry-type articles that are valuable and in short supply when times are tough.  They are also easily affordable and do not take up much storage space. Here are 50 of the most popular medical supplies that preppers put away for emergencies, and some of them can be bought for cheap at the Dollar Store.
  3. Multiple Toiletry Items: Hotel-types of small individual soap bars, shampoo bottles, towelettes, toothpaste, and shave cream. These you can ask a hotel or motel manager to order you an extra case: pay him beforehand and give him some extra.  In this way, they’ll all be in a big cardboard box and individually packaged up and ready to trade.
  4. Batteries: Will always be in short supply when you need them. It will be that way for others as well.  Just be careful to protect them from moisture when you store them and inspect them frequently to make sure there aren’t any leakages. There are certain batteries that are best for off-grid retreats. You can read about them here. Having an excess of these will be a good investment. As well, there are ways to make a battery last (practically) forever and this could be great knowledge to possess when TSHTF.
  5. Sewing supplies: Yes, needles, threads, thimbles, and safety pins. Sewing kits cost almost nothing when you buy one in the discount stores.  Clothing repair will be very important, as good serviceable clothing will be in short supply.
  6. Small tins and cans of meat: This is always usable as your own supply, of course, and can be bartered. 3 to 6-ounce cans of things such as sardines, herring, chicken, tuna fish, and the likes…they are small enough to be able to trade, and they’ll be worth their weight in gold for their portability.
  7. Candles: especially in the form of tea-lights, and small candles (of the types listed as “emergency” candles). They are inexpensive and easy to barter for when there’s no electricity.  Remember to store them vertically, as if you lay them on their side, the wick will gradually “migrate” toward the bottom…and then the candle will be messed up.
  8. Miniatures of alcohol: Alcohol has many, many uses in a long-term emergency and it is excellent for trading, whether someone wants a drink or wants it to tincture something. We’ve already had discussions on this “WCTU-sensitive” subject.  If you’re against alcohol, once again, that is for you to decide.  Others may need the alcohol to deal with the vehemence of the “righteous indignation” of others.  Whatever the case, they will be easy to trade and in a “controlled” fashion.
  9. Tobacco: Once again, to paraphrase “Alice ‘N Chains,” it’s your A couple of cartons of cigarettes are easy enough to store, as well as a box or two of good cigars.  Remember: they have anti-helminthic properties…they’ll fight intestinal worms.  They’ll definitely trade. Read more here.
  10. Sweets and other luxuries: This to include some chocolate, powdered cocoa, honey (I recommend a big box of the individual packets for personal use), packaged jellies and syrups. They’ll trade, and they’ll be more than sought after.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive.  For instance, seeds are not covered in this list but would make a good bartering item too. I gave you what my personal favorites are.  I didn’t include precious metals, small tool sets, and about a thousand items you can mention or list.  I listed the top ten that I would want to use to barter that will be in short supply.  Use your best judgment and set your own standards for yourself, and stock up on what you need for an economic collapse of its own or one that is subsequent to another thing such as a war.  Afterward, you may find that you’ve made some sound investments…and thought ahead.  JJ out!



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 23rd, 2018
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20 Responses to Post-Collapse Survival Bartering: 10 Items That Will Be Worth Their Weight in Gold

  1. Craig Escaped Detroit says:

    Great list to get us thinking and preparing the right stuff.
    As for “Sweets” etc? Large bags of sugar, and boxes of Cocoa Powder, some veggie oil or shortening, with some extra flavorings can be turned into MANY treats.

    I learned that putting squeeze bottles of Chocolate Syrup in the DEEP freeze is a GREAT way to keep it FRESH. (I love Hershey’s Syrup).

    Also, don’t forget some bags of Brown sugar (light & dark), molasses is another important ingredient in many sweets.

    Buy and store (carefully) some varieties of Tobacco seeds. Do some reading, and you’ll end up buying a pound or more of Sweet Annie (aka- Mugwort, Artemesia Annua). The world’s best cure for malaria and treats other diseases and parasites, and you can grow it too.
    When the SRHTF (really hits the fan), pain killers may have a higher demand than antibiotics (just look at all the heroin & pill addicts out there.) If the muslim Afghani’s can grow poppies effectively, I don’t see any reason why Americans would have a hard time to grow them (aside from all the laws, of course).

    Wild Lettuce is known as “Lettuce Opium”, has lots of nutrients, is cold hardy, and it’s LEGAL. I’m gonna grow some of that, along with the Mugwort and “Cathedral Bells” plants.

  2. L. A. McDonough says:

    Problem is for older people, limited on space in apts, been there done that before y2K-nothing happened, donated stuff to group homes and women’s shelters, or used up over time. I prep for weather issues (hurricanes, power outages) for several weeks. Downsized to basics last year, hope for the best, if I suspect problems will go out ane buy some these items and stash under bed.

  3. Joel W says:


    • Craig Escaped Detroit says:

      Yes, people DO love their coffee, but if all that’s available is DECAF, then perhaps some purchases of Caffeine pills will be really a great barter item, because 95% of all coffee (and tea) drinkers, would not be loving it so well if it did NOT give them an energy boost.

      • Joel W says:

        Yea screw decaf.

      • Craig Escaped Detroit says:

        Right now, 1000 pills or capsules of caffeine (200 mg), like a standard (or even a strong) cup of coffee, for $38 & change.

        So that’s like 1000 cups of coffee booster, for less than $40.
        And if you keep it sealed and in the deep freeze, it will last about forever, and never get stale like coffee can do.

        And you don’t need a coffee maker, filters, or a way to brew it…just open the lid, grab a dose, and swallow with a bit of water.
        That’s what I call a decent barter item.

      • Joel W says:

        Looking at it that way, its a brilliant barter item. Good call.

      • L. A. McDonough says:

        We are caffeine free coffee and tea drinkers. So buy both kinds for barter.

  4. Craig Escaped Detroit says:

    Don’t forget to have some extra tubes of ivermectin & other related medications.
    It’s NOT just for farm animals, or pets, it’s one of the World Health Organization’s 100 most vitally important drugs for doctors and clinics to keep in stock.
    It’s used (around the world, in many places) in HUMANS to prevent “River Blindness”, in VERY tiny doses, it’s great to prevent & treat HEART WORM in dogs that are not allergic to it (google it). Cats OK too.
    It kills fleas, ticks, mites, mange, worms (but NOT Tapeworms or Liver Flukes.. you’ll need a DIFFERENT item for them).
    When you take it, for up to 2 weeks, you (or your animal) will be a walking parasite killer. Any parasite that sucks your blood,,it will DIE.
    Bedbugs, Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, mites, etc.

    At the farm supply stores, Amazon, etc, you can buy a dose-tube big enough to treat 1200 pounds of HORSE FLESH for about $5. It’s got tabs or markings to indicate “each dose for 250 pounds. For a 25 pound animal, you’d dispense 1/10th of that, for the typical cat, you’d dispense about 1/20th of that. Or even SMALLER!

    Other, similar meds that also kills TAPEWORMS & LiverFlukes, may cost between $15-20. VERY worth it!!!!

  5. Snow Monkey says:

    Great list, but Jared Diamond’s rendition of history is unrefined horse manure. He merely makes wild assertions about events, provides no proof and then moves onto the next fantasy. Needless to say, white people are the biggest problem in history and things would be so much better if they never existed. If you have a copy, you may want to keep with your matches and other fire building supplies.

  6. RedClay says:

    water filters, water treatment tablets. Or if you can teach someone a needed skill, such as how to garden, provide security, etc.

  7. Wags71 says:

    What about salt? I hate to think about cooking anything without it. I have about 10 pounds of it all the time.

    • Craig Escaped Detroit says:

      Salt is VERY important. Used not just for cooking, but for CANNING, and preservative for meat, fish, veggies, etc. The VERY best price for “canning salt-Kosher salt (NON iodized) is to buy “Swimming Pool Salt”.

      Sold in 40 pound bags at Walmart, Lowes, HomeDepot, etc. It’s a clever “secret” that it’s FOOD GRADE non-iodized salt, for about $6 per bag!!!

      Stay away from “Water softener salt”, because it has chemicals added to it for the benefit of the machinery.

      Also important for trade, barter, or your own FOOD preservation kit, is GALLONS of VINEGAR, and POUNDS of “Pickling Spices”.

      I found my best price for those spices, (25 pound box) at Spices dot com.
      You can “pickle” SOooo many things, (not just cucumbers & pickles), but Onions, Peppers, beets, radishes, celery, broccoli, asparagus, beans, eggs, carrots, tomatoes, etc.

      • Craig Escaped Detroit says:

        I stay away from all the “Sea Salt” ever since FUKUSHIMA started dumping more than 400 tons of super radioactive water into the Pacific ocean every day. (They only admit to 400 tons).
        It’s no secret (but not widely reported) just how badly contaminated the entire Pacific ocean has become from that fateful day on 3-11-11.

        It can’t be stopped and will continue to spew for the next million years.

      • Wags71 says:

        I recently read an article about how bad Diamond Crystal kosher salt is. The manufacturer is Cargill, which I didn’t know. They produce this salt by chemically refining salt water brine, so it is unknown how much chemical residue is left over. In other words, this is far from the natural salt that sea salt is. It also contains no trace minerals that the body needs.

        But I cook a lot and find kosher salt 100 times easier to use so I haven’t figured out how to reconcile my concerns yet. I have a few pounds of himalayan sea salt, but it tastes about 10 times as salty as kosher salt so I have a hard time using it.

        I do share your concerns about Fukushima (and I also believe the Gulf of Mexico is forever ruined by the millions of gallons of dispersant used to hide the spilled oil.) I refuse to eat anything that comes out of the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.

      • Craig Escaped Detroit says:

        The swimming pool salt brand at Walmart is MORTON salt. I can’t recall the 2 brands at Lowes & Homedepot.

        I don’t imagine that Cargill would go thru their “brine process” to do those big 40 pound bags of NON “Kosher” swimming pool salt, but anything’s possible.

        Kosher is such a BIG deal, and “premium priced product”, but I imagine that all the swimming pool salts come directly from the salt deposit mines.

      • Wags71 says:

        I imagine that every mass produced non-sea salt is going to be produced using the same unknown chemicals. That’s why I’m hesitant to say they’re safe. I know Morton uses anti-caking agents in their iodized salt and who knows what’s in that? I’m sure it causes cancer and has had all the research suppressed.

      • Craig Escaped Detroit says:

        In the Detroit area, is an underground mine (HUGE) that is a SALT mine from ancient seas, totally DRY, and they dig it out a hundred tons or more every day, or by the hour?
        Some veins are Very pure stuff, and other veins are “dirty”. Places all around the world have deposits like that.

      • Abe says:

        There’s lots of plastic particles in sea salt too!

      • Wags71 says:

        Nothing is safe. /sigh

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