Monday, July 7, 2014


What have you got to barter?  I looked online after finding out I missed  some ‘summer of survival’ event’s barter podcast, and went looking to see what folks recommend.

Here’s what I found:

Site one:  Food, batteries (but no charger), ammunition, candles propane, books.

Site two:  Alcohol, candy, salt, children’s toys, lighters, spices and garden hoses.

Site three:  Crystal light, coffee, candy and condoms (list was longer; these four stood out ‘cause of the alliteration)

Now, I have actually done a test with candy.  Six-month-old vac-packed candy has lost flavor.  All of the candies I tested, black licorice, chocolate, mints…all of it lost taste (and I was very thorough and tested everything several times).  As for children’s toys, well, if someone needs a way to entertain their kids and doesn’t already have crayons, they’re not getting my box of 64.  Spices?  Will only last so long before they start losing taste.  Salt?  Don’t use the stuff unless I’m cooking something that requires it or cleaning cast iron; I've been working on a container for literally years.  Garden hoses?  Seriously?  Batteries but no charger?  Um…no.

I happen to have extra sardines.  You offer me a Mercury dime.  Um…can’t eat a dime – sorry (I do have a few put by but more for professional services than goods).  Gemstones?  Can’t tell if they’re real; seriously, some rhinestones…  Gold?  Seriously, how am I supposed to know it’s real gold?

Be judicious in what you put aside for barter.

Some of what you’ve put by can be good for bartering, and things like toothbrushes (nobody mentions them, but it’s pointless to have toothpaste without an applicator), stain removing toothpaste (my personal favorite as it removes stains and seems to keep plaque down to a dull roar – get the Crest stuff), Listerine, and floss are in my opinion good to have enough on hand to barter with.  Other things like tampons in more than one size, bandaids (get cloth because some people are sensitive to the plastic ones and in my experience, cloth adheres better), hydrogen peroxide or that green disinfectant you can find at the grocery store (rotate regularly), Neosporin or similar (rotate regularly), toilet paper, and wet wipes (the ones for your counter as well as your parts, and in small packages) are all good.  Hand soap, and shampoo are good additions…and that’s just the bathroom stuff. 

You can get ibuprophen in smaller bottles for barter, along with other OTC pain meds; medications that deal with allergies like hay fever are also good.  Nasal decongestants…the list obviously goes on.  Better to have a little of everything than a lot of one thing, though, because rotating through a Costco-size bottle of this or that takes time and some medications lose their effectiveness or can even become toxic if too old.

What I find myself going to the store for most (other than food) is hardware.  Exacto knife blades and box cutter blades don’t hold an edge forever; screws and nails and the like get used and you run out.  I have extras, but I also have the means to sharpen what I have because eventually, there won’t be any more it TSHTF. 

Look around at the things you use every day.  What do you eat or use, what is so ubiquitous, that its loss would be difficult to work around?  That’s what you need to have on hand, and it just might make good barter material as well.   

Even if it’s sardines.