Letter Re: Best Items to Store for Barter and Charity?






Mr. Rawles,
My wife and I are are in our 50s, (never had kids) and we live in a four bedroom house on 80 acres (mostly leased out [for farming]), eight miles outside a town of 20,000 population, in south-central Iowa. Two of our cousins and one nephew–all military vet[eran]s–that live in town are planning to come out [and live with us], if and when times get nasty. We have now have (or will soon have) all our basic preparations in hand, including a three year food supply for five people, which we got mostly through Safecastle and Ready Made Resources, plus some extra meats from Freeze Dry Guy, and some canned butter from Best Prices Storable Foods. We also took your advice and upgraded to a propane [chest] freezer. (That took a lot of searching, believe me!) It now holds almost a a side of beefalo, and almost 15 gallons of frozen olive oil. (Thanks for mentioning [fats and] oils–that was something that we had totally overlooked!).

My wife and I plan to book the four day handgun course and the four day rifle course back-to-back at Front Sight, with some sightseeing in Vegas, on the weekend in between [the two courses]. We are going in April–before the really scorching weather starts in southern Nevada. (We’ve been warned about the summers there!) Per your suggestion posts, we [standardized] with Glock 21-SF .45s and FN-FAL clones. With five of each–not to mention the rest of my [gun] collection, which was ah-hem substantial before I ever started reading your blog–we should be able to hold off a small army. We have well water, but have a very reliable windmill that pumps [water up] to a 850 gallon tank with its overflow piped to a 2,700 above-ground concrete cistern for irrigating our garden. Water is not an issue.We also have oversize propane and home heating [oil] tanks. (Large enough that they’ve each prompted comments from visitors. I’ve just told them that I like to buy in bulk whenever fuel prices dip.)

Now that we have all the basics covered, we are ready to acquire some stocks for barter, assuming one of your “Grid Down” collapses. We have plenty of [storage] space, since our house has a full unfinished basement. FYI, it has never had any dampness or flooding problems.What do you suggest as the most important barter [item] to stock up on? We also want to have extra items for charity. We plan to do that through our church, so that our family name never gets mentioned. – Karl in Iowa

JWR Replies: It sounds like you are “Away squared”!

For anyone living in an inland area, I consider salt the highest priority barter and charity item. Buy a lot of salt, in several forms. As space allows, buy 20 to 30 of the 50-pound plain white salt blocks from your local feed store. These are great for barter–both for folks with livestock and for people that want to attract wild game. Buy a couple of 25 pound sacks of iodized salt for your own use. Also buy 100 to 200 of the standard cardboard one pound canisters of iodized salt for small scale barter transactions.

The second highest priority for barter and charity is fuel. If you have an outbuilding that can provide safe and secure storage, then buy at least a 20 one-gallon gallon cans of Coleman stove/lantern fuel, 30 to 50 standard propane cylinders (the size used for torches and camp stoves) and 40 to 60 one-gallon cans of kerosene. You might also lay in a few extra welding cylinders (Oxygen and acetylene.)

Also store some bulk fuel. If you can afford it, also install a 300 to 800 gallon underground gasoline tank and a 600 to 2,500 gallon underground diesel tank. (And of course make sure that you have at least one diesel vehicle.) You should carefully camouflage the filler necks and hand pumps for those tanks, as I’ve previously described in the blog. (In the “Search” box in the right had bar, enter the word “wine”.) If you ever use any of your gas or diesel for barter, do not reveal how much you have stored, or the fact that you have underground ranks. All that your customers should be allowed to see is a few 5 gallon cans. Also, depending on the local circumstances, you might also consider getting a pair of used 80 gallon aboveground tanks (typical farm and ranch tanks on metal stands) clearly stenciled “Unleaded” and “Diesel” to leave behind your barn unlocked and nearly empty, as a decoy for burglars.

The third highest priority for barter and charity is common caliber ammunition. I have discussed this at length before in SurvivalBlog. (In the “Search” box in the right hand bar, enter the word “wampum”.)

Beyond, those three categories of high priority barterables, if you still have extra cash and storage space available, see my book SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog – Volume 1 and/or the SurvivalBlog archives for dozens of other barter items that have been suggested by blog readers.

OBTW, one of my consulting clients recently suggested buying several extra pieces of inexpensive night vision gear, such as first generation Russian monoculars. These would be in demand from any folks fearing nighttime attacks from looters. Since light amplification night vision gear is still relatively uncommon it would surely be a desirable item for barter. If you are looking for night vision gear, please contact our advertisers such as JRH Enterprises and Ready Made Resources, first.