Superior Bartering Chips For Survival Situations: Part 1



Superior Bartering Chips For Survival Situations: Part 1

In a survival situation, it's important not only to have all the necessary supplies for yourself and your family, but to have bartering chips, too.

Bartering Chips All Survivalists Need For SHTF Scenarios: Part 1

All survivalists worth their salt have a stockpile of things he or she has identified that they may need to survive a natural or man-made disaster. However, it is extremely important that you realize the value of maintaining a barter store, as well.

When things go south, particularly in an economic collapse where the dollar is nearly worthless, a number of non-monetary goods will be more valuable than a fistful of dollar bills. Gathering non-monetary goods for your bug out bags ahead of time is a crucial survival step.

It’s also important to recognize that no matter what you do, you can never store enough of every item to account for every scenario for an extended period of time. What you can do, however, is keep some items on hand to use as bartering chips with friends and neighbors. It will help to plug any unforeseen gaps in your preparations.

Imagine a neighbor with a large garden and some chickens trading half a dozen eggs and some squash for a box of ammo or a small bottle of Vodka. Who got the better end of the deal?

The truth is, they both profited by trading for something that was more valuable. Not all bartering situations will be mutually beneficial, but this is the best you can hope for.

I have read many “Complete Lists” of survival and bartering items over the last few years. Frankly, I am sick of most of them. The main problem with these lists is that they are just that: a list of things to stockpile.

They spout lines of text and say you need these items on your prepper's checklist… But WHY do you need them? I have compiled my own list of items below, including why and how to use them after a crisis.

Consider stocking up on these bartering chips. Even if you have no plans to use them yourself, this list has the best items to stockpile for bartering. They are inexpensive now and will be worth more than you can imagine later!

16 Items Barter That Preppers Should Stockpile Now For Later

1. Cigarettes

A full pack of cigarettes with one pulled out slightly. | bartering chip

I hate smoking. I can’t stand the smell. Having said that, I do recognize that after a crisis situation, many others will be cut off from their access to cigarettes… and would be willing to trade valuable items to get them. This makes cigarettes extremely valuable bartering chips.

One caveat to this is that factory made cigarettes, much like most other things in life, have a limited shelf life of around two years.

To store them for the longest possible period keep them in the freezer in an airtight container. In a grid down situation you should probably offload these first. People will immediately clamor for creature comforts but will soon be forced to wean themselves from the habit.

If you have the land and the ability you could also learn to grow your own fresh tobacco. Your skills will be in high demand when SHTF!

2. Alcohol

shutterstock_284297423 | commodity

Alcohol will be one of, if not the chief bartering commodity in a post SHTF situation.

Aside from being used as a temporary escape from the reality of whatever crisis you may find yourself in, alcohol has a vast amount of alternate uses as a bartering chip.  Anything above 40 proof will ignite with the smallest spark. That makes fire starting a breeze.

If you have low sugar liquor, you can use it as an antiseptic to treat wounds. It is also a mild pain reliever that can treat anything from a toothache to the flu. While they will not cure the ailments, the liquor makes the ailments a bit more bearable so it's a necessity for your emergency survival kits.

Homebrewing kits have been made widely available thanks to the gain in its popularity. Becoming a homebrew master is a fun skill to have and in any situation where alcohol is worth more than paper money is a very handy and lucrative ability indeed.

A few key things to note include the fact that in the U.S., most states permit home brewing. They allow 100 gallons of beer per adult per year and up to a maximum of 200 gallons per household annually when there are two or more adults residing in the household. Legally, you are restricted from selling any home brewed beer.

As far as distillation or “moonshining” goes, owning or operating a distillation apparatus without filing the proper paperwork and paying the taxes carries federal criminal penalties. I do not agree with breaking the law in order to further yourself.

When I speak of home brewing and home distillation, I am strictly speaking in terms of a WROL situation. With that being said, if you want to look into home distillation, there is an absolute ton of research and books available to get you started. I have not delved too deeply into the world of a ‘shiner,’ but I have read some of the reviews of the top books available on Amazon and found that “The Home Distillers Workbook” is a fairly good beginners' guide.

3. Antibiotics and Medicines

An open medicine cabinet containing pill bottles of various colors and sizes. | bartering chips

I am by no means an expert on medicines, but I do know that people will always need them. This makes different medicines FANTASTIC bartering chips. Having a good amount of ibuprofen and Tylenol available will put you in a much better spot than being without, especially if you want some valuable bartering chips in a SHTF scenario.

There are also many alternative methods of obtaining medicine, such as using fish antibiotics for human use. While this is technically illegal, if you want to hone your survival and alternative first aid skills, you should purchase The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook.

This handbook is a guide to staying healthy in situations where help is NOT just around the corner. Since its first publication, it occupied the #1 Amazon Bestseller spot multiple times in both the Survival Skills and Safety and First Aid categories.

4. Sanitation and First Aid Supplies

shutterstock_135150926 | barter commodity

Proper sanitation is a major element in survival.

During normal times, a small cut that is quickly bandaged and cleaned usually heals in a matter of days. Alternatively, in a situation where you don’t have anything to properly clean yourself, a cut or even a small scrape can quickly get infected and drastically reduce your efficiency.

Survival stresses will tax your body and health severely. Use anything you can to stay in tip top shape!

I am not saying that you need to hoard enough first aid supplies to fully stock an emergency room. You just need enough for yourself and a few extra that you are willing to part with.

The next time you are eating BBQ or chicken wings, let the server know that you are extra messy. See if you can score some of those moist towelettes. They are free, last indefinitely, and could have value in a SHTF scenario.

Also consider stockpiling some rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide for leverage. They are cheap, small and last a long time. Peroxide can treat water as well as your wounds. Alcohol can start a fire and clean a work surface.

Another good thing to stock up on is feminine hygiene products. Tampons can make a rudimentary straw or fire starter. The cotton batting can clean wounds as well as rifles and shotguns. Feminine pads and lines can function as a makeshift bandage for larger wounds.

Neosporin is also an important item to keep around both for personal use and in a barter situation. It helps stave off infection and has a decent shelf life of around 24 months, according to the manufacturer. Unopened it may last much longer, but you take a risk using anything past its expiration date. I recommend storing antibiotic ointments in your refrigerator to help prolong the shelf life on it, unless otherwise stated on the packaging.

5. Bullets

shutterstock_340335539 | items to barter

If you decide to stock guns for home defense or hunting, you first need to make sure you know how to use them.

After you have the appropriate training, it is obviously a necessity to store a decent amount of ammo representing all calibers of the weapons you own. After all, a gun without ammo is just a glorified club.

Prep like a pro, with ammo direct to your door. Get an ammo subscription here to be fully stocked with survival bartering chips.

My personal choice for guns is a good old .22 caliber long rifle and a .22 caliber pistol that takes LR rounds. The reasoning for this is that the .22 is the most commonly available and cheapest rifle round on the market.

While you may not have the knockdown power of a shotgun, you can easily carry 20 rounds of .22 caliber ammo inside of a single shotgun shell. If you are accurate enough, you don’t need a lot of knockdown power to take out small game.

Whatever gun you choose, it’s a good idea to store extra ammo in common calibers (9mm, .22, .38, 12-gauge shells, etc.) for high value barter items. You'll still need to initially focus your purchases around what you intend to keep, but having options will help you in the long run.

Superior Bartering Chips For Survival Situations: Part 1

Click here to read part two of this series.

Click here to skip to part three of this series.

For awesome survival gear you can’t make at home, check out the Survival Life Store!

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  1. Pat Keller

    October 25, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Aloha, why did you stop with five [5]? You stated there were
    16 items you were listing. Then you only listed five. What is
    with that?

    Please complete your list.

    Pat Keller
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    • Joe

      October 25, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      Hi Pat,
      I stopped at 5 because the email ran a little long and I wanted to make it easier to digest, Keep a look out for my next newsletter on Monday, I will put more in that one, I just keep thinking of things to add to each item and want to make sure I cover my bases as much as possible. Make sure you subscribe to my email if you haven’t already.
      thanks again


    October 25, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Love your newsletters! Thanks for the partial list WITH the explanations!

  3. Great Grey

    October 26, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Sorry, but I have yet to see any of those moist towlettes. That last indefinitely,most I have had have gone dry in 3-4 years.

    • ChewyBees

      March 7, 2013 at 8:43 PM

      Anything packaged with the potential of drying out / expiration, should be at a minimum plastic ziplocked, or maybe even vacuum sealed to boot. Like a fine cigar, there is nothing wrong with prolonging the life of moisture in an item with a sealed container and a humidifying agent. In fact, the gels and other humidifiers for cigars would work awesome for anything, as they are safe for exposure then consumption.

  4. KAHR50

    October 29, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Buy rolling papers, tobacco and a rolling machine – way cheaper and easier to store and less likely to be stolen – not convenient to make your own. Sure they are filterless, but who cares – they are for the smoker, not you.

  5. Carrie

    October 29, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    I appreciate you keeping the lists short and giving explanations.


  6. Kristin

    October 30, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    When I drank I used to buy those home winemaking kits you can pick up for about 9 dollars- just add grape juice. All it is is an air release valve such as used in home aquarium air lines- that fit over a grape juice bottle. Add yeast, wait 24/48 (or longer) hours- voila, grape wine.

    The bag tobacco and roll your own idea is wonderful.

    The web or telecommunications grid could be hampered, go out, OR be “severely restricted” ahem. Maybe some sites branded “hate speech” could suddenly disappear. Find your local ISPs dial up numbers and how to log in, should hispeed lines go down. Learn how to use wireless routers to create a “mini web” that can span miles, using daisy chained wireless routers from location to location a la “ad hoc” type set up.
    Download and save helpful SHTF type sites to use in case the comm grid goes out. BOOKS! how tos, gardening, medical books are very useful.

    One could set up an “emergency” analog TV station easily, that can be broadcast to an apartment complex, school, or neighborhood (look up easy instructions on youtube etc, uses VHS player, amplifiers) also useful if telecom/CATV goes out.

    Personally- now this is completely off topic- but I see the REAL SHTF situation may occur verrry gradually- the social order of things slowly decaying, so that while we wait for sudden destruction to happen, it’s in actuality slowly falling apart around us like a frog boiling.

    • ChewyBees

      March 7, 2013 at 8:47 PM

      True about the last part, the gradual decay. But when the bottom falls out of the economy (ie they have nothing left to squeeze out of the populace, then a giant avalanche of public services and entitlement programs will end in a couple of weeks time.

      Check this vid out, it is an hour long, but every minute is awesome:

  7. Steve

    November 6, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    I think that the most priceless by far is having the skills and tools to create goods and services others will desire. Just to pick on one thing, alcohol; bottles of alcohol are easily thieved and if you have horded it, it may put your life in danger. On the other hand, having the skill to brew your own from raw ingredients cannot be taken away from you and makes your continued existence more valuable. Same thing goes for ability to grow your own commodities, cook, weld, build, make your own weapons, etc. So I would much rather invest in greenhouses, welders, steel stock, seeds, hand pumps, solar panels, wood working tools and the knowledge to use them.

    In a collapse the commodities will soon be used or thieved and eventually be replaced by low tech substitutions. Knowing how to create your own tech will be very very important.

  8. janey

    January 4, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    @ Kristan. You sound like a very wise lady. You seem to be well versed on many subjects. I wish I lived next door to you.

    And for you Joe. I thank you. Good ideas. I have tobaco seeds, a home made still, and yes I know how to use it, and even tho I am old, their are washable sanitary pads. I have them for my daughters for when tshtf.

  9. Becky

    January 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    My brother is heavily into the Primitive Pursuits movement in NY, learning how AND teaching others. Google “Primitive Pursuits” to see what comes up…. Last summer’s P.P.Day involved (among other things) building friction fires with hand drills and bow drills (his specialty – he can start a fire in under 10 seconds!!!); constructing and using a high-efficiency, low-emission rocket stove made from native materials, which cooks a whole meal using a few little sticks or other burnable material; making cordage (thread, string, rope) from plant or animal fibers; making bows & arrows and learning how to use them; how to filter water to make it potable; tanning hides and making leather; making bark bowls, boxes and buckets; carving wooden spoons and other utensils; basketry and mat-weaving; etc. The really NEAT thing? This was being taught to the public by ordinary people who knew how to do it, and little kids were there in DROVES, lapping it up, as were their parents!

    Brother is into winter and foul-weather survival camping, too, learning how to find or create weather-tight shelters, build fires in soggy and windy conditions, catch & kill game, creating spears, axes, knives, scrapers and other tools from bone, antler, shell, stone, wood, or whatever.

    That, to us, is a true ‘survivalist,’ being able to survive with nothing but your bare hands, and maybe a knife if you’re lucky enough to have one. A lot of people have lived quite well off the land, without ANY modern conveniences. I have a feeling we’d better learn how to do it again.

    When you don’t have the money to buy all the stainless steel this & that, or the cute little stove that goes on a propane/butane bottle…. or if you are away from home without all your stockpiled stuff and can’t get back to it when the SHTF, it’s a whole lot better to know how to live off the land without ANY amenities. Cartoons to the contrary, smart squirrels don’t keep all their nuts in only one hollow tree, where a bear can wipe them out in one marauding visit.

    I hadn’t done any heavy research into doing any of the Primitive Pursuits before I moved here, although it had been an interest since I was a child. My main self-education over the past 20-30 years has been in edible & medicinal wild plants, and some edible fungi. Knowing the herbaceous plants, woody vines, shrubs and trees around you – both wild and domesticated – what they look like in all seasons, where to find them, parts to use, and what they’re good for, will go a long way toward keeping you alive. (Or carefully serving up a bowl of something toxic to your captors, giving you time to escape….? )

  10. ChewyBees

    March 7, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    A truckload of tampons and pads might be a bartering agent on the level of cigarettes and bottles of vodka. You only have so many months of T-shirts and towels, and based on my own families existence, women do not “stock up” on these things, but go until it runs out. It is a necessity, as there are only so many T-shirts and towels to go. Sorry to be so direct, but it is the complete truth. And the use as a medical pad is totally relevant.

    • Quilt lady

      October 10, 2016 at 11:55 AM

      Pads can also be used as first aid compresses and are absorbent for injuries!

  11. Mark

    September 17, 2016 at 10:10 PM

    Unless this is a marketing ploy, why don’t you list all the items in this single site. Better yet, don’t worry about the site and give us a pdf file. That way we can print out a hard copy for times when the grid goes down.

  12. left coast chuck

    September 17, 2016 at 11:01 PM

    If you are going to stock up on isopropyl alcohol, make sure it is at least 60%. In our area IPA comes in three strengths at the local drug stores, 30%, 60% and 90%. IPA needs to be at least 60% in order to kill bacteria. Lower than that and it loses its bactericide capability. If you have access to printing supplies you can purchase 98% IPA which is as concentrated as it gets. Alcohol is hydrophilic and as soon as one opens a can of 100% IPA it no longer is 100%, so outside of a very expensive laboratory grade, 98% IPA is as good as it gets. Do not mistake this for ethanol. Isopropyl is not potable. It will make you blind, crazy and rot your brain, among other things. It will burn nicely, it makes an effective disinfectant. It will sterilize surgical tools. It is a strong degreaser and a wetting agent. Urban legend has it if you strain it through bread it becomes drinkable — WRONG. I am not a chemist and do not portray one on television. To the best of my knowledge there is nothing you can do to IPA to make it non-poisonous to ingest.

    If you are buying hand cleaner, make sure it is at least 60% IPA. some cheap brands are not 60%. They do not kill bacteria.

    If you can score free hand wipes, go for it. I would not spend big money on hand wipes. In my experience they dry out quicker than other posters have indicated. I would rather have strong paper towels than hand wipes. Paper towels can be used more than once, they are larger and they can be moistened with hand cleaner and serve as a bigger hand wipe than come in those little bagettes that you get in restaurants. They can also serve as a water filter to take out big junk.

    When I receive a package with brown or white paper serving as the packing material, I cut it into 7″ x 7″ squares. When I get about a stack about six inches high, I wrap it in two layers of plastic wrap. This is going to be my trade toilet paper. Compressed in plastic wrap six inches equals a couple hundred sheets. It’s low cost and doesn’t take up a lot of room. If you overlooked squirreling away enough t.p., you should be quite happy to trade me a load of wood for my water distiller or ten gallons of lake water for a month’s supply of t.p., especially if your better half is on your case about your t.p. oversight. I don’t use paper with a slick surface, of course, the paper I collect resembles paper bag paper but is thinner than the bags you get at Trader Joes.

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  16. Gail Wood

    March 14, 2017 at 8:16 PM

    Thank you for putting this all together for us.

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