What's the single best barter item?

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If you were going to store up on one single barter item, what would it be? I'd think it would have to be something compact, fairly lightweight, of resonable price at the moment, and likely to vanish from the shelves in a crisis. I've heard toilet paper is a good one, but storing it would take too much room. Bullets? Well, now, you'd then have to deal with the kind of people who need bullets in a crisis, and I'm not sure I want to. Booze? Bottles are breakable. What else? I'm thinking soap is a good one. How about it?

-- Erik (linter7173@aol.com), November 16, 1998


I have a few barter items on hand. I feel it is better to have more than one, so that I can barter with more people. Soap is good, also deodorant, shampoo (trial size), hand creams, cosmetics, toothbrushes, toothpaste, rubber gloves, extra cast iron cookware and extra food. The cookware is good if you find you need a large item in trading, check out local garage sales and flea markets for large items like it. For the food items, luxury items will be even more luxurious post y2k.

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), November 16, 1998.

Think what do we import that we may not be able to get and what takes a lot of processing and fuel to make and distribute? For those reasons I go with paper products (toilet paper and writing paper) and plastics(plastic storage bags, garbage bags,containers)as well as all the items already mentioned. In cold climates add on woolen caps and mittens and socks. Just about any food item but especially imports like tea and coffee.Also bleach,dish soap, vinegar and salt.Think also storage spaces like attics, basements,crawlspaces, garages(especially up high). You can store more than you think.Just one item? Coffee.

-- Sue (deco100@aol.com), November 16, 1998.

My barter item would be knowledge and skills that will be needed post Y2K. They don't take up space, we can bring them where ever we go, they can't be taken away from us, and they can be traded for tangibles.

-- Robert Michaels (sonofdust@net.com), November 16, 1998.

Sugar, coffee, aspirin (things I don't use, but will have on hand for barter.)

-- Holly Allen (holly3325@juno.com), November 16, 1998.

Candles, matches, ability to solve problems, ability to create things from that which grows off the land. Think "Swiss Family Robinson." There's ingenuity in action. Ability to teach others how to fish.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), November 16, 1998.

Think addictive luxuries, Alcohol (yes glass but should not be a problem), brewers yeast, sulfite (camden) tablets for beer, tobacco (in ANY form), CHOCOLATE(!), etc.

Cuttlerey, Arrows, arrow-heads, essoteric head treatments for hunting arrows (if you've seen some of the broadheads today you understand), Fletching. the toiletries have all been mentioned, but particularly perfume, and men's cologne/aftershave, patent medicines (aspirin, et al, Bag Balm, creams and lotions, anti-fungals, topical pain killers and topical itch killers, EXTRA MONISTAT (!), cough drops and cough & Cold stuff).

Things NOT to barter: bullets ("I'll trade this here 100 pounds of wheat for 25 rounds of 9mm." "OK Here's your 25 rounds." "Now, STICK 'EM UP and give back the 100 pounds of wheat!" , firearms (same scenario).

-- Chuck a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), November 16, 1998.


I'm thinking Swiss Family Robinson......

But at the moment I'm right out of coconut bombs. However rolling logs onto marauding pirates sounds like fun........

Dang, the tiger's missing too!

-- Craig (craig@ccinet.ab.ca), November 16, 1998.

Aw Craig, that was the movie version. The book doesn't have pirates or cocnut bombs, but it's far more educational. Trade goods: Any over the counter medications, especially asthma or antifungal or antibacterial. Painkillers -- Alleve, aspirin, etc. Scissors, knives -- or sharpening services. Needles and thread? Knowledge.

-- JDClark (yankeejdc@aol.com), November 16, 1998.

The bartering items I'm stocking up on are coffee, tea, sugar, cigarettes, booze and chocolates (in candy form and in cocoa powder). I beleive I could get a nice big chicken with a pack of cigarettes from a smoking farmer. Wine to me is a must (in moderate amounts) for the soul and body (red wine lowers cholesterol while it gives you a cheer ;) ) so i'll keep my wine and barter the hard stuff with farmers/tradesmen. I see myself bartering a 1/4 pound of coffee for a big delicious loaf of bread from the more homey ladies. And pay the neighbor's kids who help us split wood with a bar of chocolate ;)

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), November 16, 1998.

i plan to have plenty of natural illicit mind altering substances on hand to trade. And I do mean the kinds that make you mellow, not the powdery junk that gets you all hyped up.


-- pot (mari@juana.org), November 16, 1998.

Not necessarily for bartering but for those of us who are going to be doing a lot more physical labor than we are used to,BenGay or Icy Hot or whatever your favorite brand of muscle pain reliever. And in case it lasts longer than we hope, patches and thread for clothing repairs. Quilting thread is much stronger than regular and fish line can be used for lots of things and big needles of course.

-- sue (deco100@aol.com), November 16, 1998.

.22 long rifle rounds (since .22s are nonreloadable and small enough that you can store a BUNCH in a relatively small space), and OTC medications, especially children's medications.

-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), November 16, 1998.

Camp stoves, lanterns, fuel, oil lamps and oil, coffee, SPAM, beans, cigarettes, booze, cooking oil, sugar, Preparation H, Tampax, Trojans, KY Jelly, vegetable seeds, first aid and natural remedy books, blankets, and sleeping bags. Keep your barter stuff separate from your private stash. I'm with you Chuck, don't barter your guns or ammo. Buy stuff for barter that you can use yourself if and when the dust settles and you have a lot of inventory left. You can always have a yard sell and sell the extra cast iron, camp stoves, etc. For those that are trying to raise money to buy extra barter items, nows the time to get rid of jewelry or high ticket items that you no longer have any use for.

-- bardou (bardou@baloney.com), November 16, 1998.

I have the ultimate barter item, yet I have a severe ethical question to put to you all. I am fortunate enough to have been able to cache many water purificaton filters. More than I personally need. The barter of luxury items presents no problem but, how would you feel about a man who would trade drinking water to the thirsty. I don't feel too good about it yet it seems ok to sell food to the hungry, blankets to the freezing etc. I solicite your comments.

Bill in South Carolina

-- Bill Solorzano (notaclue@webtv.net), November 16, 1998.


I don't think water is a great barterable good. You should indeed have pangs of conscience for wanting to barter with clean water. Give freely of your water, and find something that is more of a luxury good (soap, ammo, cigarettes, alcohol) to barter with. Many excellent ideas in this forum as well as in the North forums.


-- Ben Davenport (bendaven@microsoft.com), November 16, 1998.


I think that oil lamps and the fuel would be good barter items.

I just purchased 5 wall mount lamps at a local hardware store. the owner was flabergasted at why he had sold over 200 in the last 2 weeks. I didnt bother explaining.

I live in a very rural area, this is a lot of lamps to sell in such a short time. I am sure that lamps will be harder and harder to come by.

Was wondering if coins will retain more value than paper money should the dollar devalue, anyone know?


I KNEW I left out an ESSENTIAL!!! COLEMAN LANTERN MANTLES and KERO LANTERN WICKS LOTS OF EACH!! You would be surprised how dificult it is to find these critters in winter!


-- Chuck a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), November 16, 1998.

For those planning on cigarettes..speaking as a former 2 pack a day smoker (I just one day dedcided to quit cold turkey, I was a true pleasure to live with) do not buy the cigarettes quite yet. Hold off on them as long as you can because they DO go stale after a month or so. So the longer you can wait on them the better.


-- Rick Tansun (ricktansun@hotmail.com), November 17, 1998.

Rick, I used to watch my grandpa roll his own from a can of Prince Albert (smelling it now brings on one of those intense flashback experiences... :)...) I know that the 'canned' pipe tobacco would have a longer shelf life than ready made cigarettes, so I was thinking about stocking up on Prince Albert and rolling papers. BUT, I don't smoke, so I don't know if this would be something a smoker would want to have. What do you think?

-- Arewyn (nordic@northnet.net), November 17, 1998.

Arwyn, you can buy an inexpensive cigarrette making machine and cigarrette filter/tubes and make your own filter cigarrettes. I don't know where you could buy this machine in the states, but I know they still sell it in canada, along with several brands of tobaco in cans. That's a great idea to buy the tobaco in cans to keep freshness longer and use only when/if needed.

-- Chris ` (catsy@pond.com), November 17, 1998.

Matches, candy, coffee, tobacco, booze, my homemade wine (which is *awesome* if I do say so myself, and which I plan to make ALOT of this year), anything considered a goodie, aspirins, candles, kerosene, spices, sugar.....*endless list goes here*....... I would take things like coffee, booze, matches, etc and put them into smaller containers/bottles. That way during the *deal* no one knows you actually have more of the stuff.

-- Bobbi (volfnat@northweb.com), November 17, 1998.

As a past two packer, when there are none available stale is not good but hardly a reason for rejection. Canned tobacco is a great idea. Nothing in it to keep it burning when your not puffing, so it will goes out and lasts longer. Rolling your own is also entertaining.

Water purification tablets for barter seems like a case by case decision. IMHO, normally as good for barter as anything else. You can't supply everyone so if you trade with those who have something to barter you will not have enough for the others. If you give them away to those who can't trade, the people who can barter would have to live without... And you would too. That's two "bads" instead of one.

People obviously in dire need of food, water or warmth, should be supplied first, no matter what is needed, and irregardless of personal gain or benefit.


-- Floyd Baker (fbaker@wzrd.com), November 17, 1998.

Coins. I had forgotten about that until somebody mentioned it in this thread. We are saving *all* our coins. We have two big buckets full already! We figure that possibly coins might be worth more than paper money post-y2k. Dunno, but it certainly can't hurt to save 'em. Amazing how fast they accumulate. :-)

-- Bobbi (volfnat@northweb.com), November 17, 1998.

If you're thinking about booze as a barter item, check out the liquor store for plastic half-pint bottles; you won't find these in the better brands, but any sealed bottle of real liquor will be a good trading item regardless of quality. Inexpensive rum or vodka are good, but never buy cheap tequila-- people who drink that will want to take revenge on you ;)

Another idea: if you are planning on buying some American vodka for yourself, consider choosing 190 proof spirits (like Everclear) instead. This stuff can also be used as an antiseptic, solvent, or alcohol stove fuel in a pinch.

Some other ideas for barter: canvas work gloves, wool socks, Pepto-Bismol, Bag Balm, small bottles of dish detergent, bleach.

-- Max Dixon (Ogden, Utah USA) (Max.Dixon@gte.net), November 17, 1998.

Max, Pardon my ignorance - what on earth is Bag Balm?

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), November 17, 1998.

Tricia, "Bag Balm" is a farm remedy, an ointment with a petroleum jelly base, originally developed to treat milk cows with chapped udders and teats... sort of like Chap Stick for ol' Bossy. People found that it could be used for burns, rashes, scrapes, chapped hands, all kinds of things. It stinks but it works.

-- Max Dixon (Ogden, Utah USA) (Max.Dixon@gte.net), November 17, 1998.

An alternative to bartering with cigarettes would be the nicotine patches...they last longer and can aid in quiting!

-- Texas Terri (TYSYM@AOL.com), November 17, 1998.

Since a lot of the good ones are taken, I'm stretching a bit by suggesting:

Paper back books, games, garden hose, pvc pipe and connections, solder, super glue (good replacement for sutures), sterno, pet food, hand tools, butane lighters, clorox bleach, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide.

-- MVI (vtoc@aol.com), November 17, 1998.

Cheap-ish CB Radios, batteries, Viagra (!), tampax, coins (quarters and dimes), bic disposable lighters, ammo, booze, condiments, the list is never-ending...

-- Andy (andy_rowland@msn.com), November 17, 1998.

I believe that you should take into consideration the following formula: volume (space), weight, $ value, and demand. I've also heard that toilet paper is a good one (but very space taking). A recent post-earthquake crisis in a large Japanese city (according to the press), wiped out the toilet paper shelves FIRST, in most of the grocery stores.

Also, from the press, the only 2 industries that actually thrived in a recession or depression were the LIQUOR and CHOCOLATE companies.

As for drinking alcohol, your best bet is probably Everclear - 190 proof: it gives you more than twice the amount of alcohol in the same size bottle.


-- Roger Coons (rmcoons1sr@webtv.net), November 20, 1998.

I realized this morning that I need some buttons for a skirt. I'll be getting extra of those, too. Also, like JD said, needles and thread.

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), November 20, 1998.

Add velcro tapes to your sewing kit, I did yesterday. Handy stuff.

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), November 20, 1998.

Plastic garbage bags for toilets, luggage, warmth, low-cost rainwear, and rolls of heavy duty plastic to cover holes in windows, insulate, cover coal, wood piles, makeshift shelters. Cheap and easy to store.

-- Laurane (familyties@rttinc.com), November 20, 1998.

I forgot solar stills for water, blackout curtains?, and hauling home your other barter items.

-- Laurane (familyties@rttinc.com), November 20, 1998.

Many of the items listed are excellent, but I find that having several rolls of good quality duct tape goe a long way to get you out of sticky situation.

-- John Young (jpyoung@globalserve.net), October 08, 1999.

Well, I have several thousand books, of all varieties. Does anyone know how to read anymore? How-to books are always helpful, but even escape literature is valuable.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), October 08, 1999.

tea lights, GI can openers, space blankets, socks, tea bags, rolling papers

-- biker (y2kbiker@worldnet.att.net), October 08, 1999.

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