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
|Metal||Fahrenheit (f)||Celsius (c)|
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!