Sometimes finding the currency or items both parties find valuable is the hardest part. Once that is complete, a fair trade isn’t a difficult task. It’s not just items that can be bartered; often skills are much more valuable. Listed below are some skillsets that could be very useful in a mid to long term survival situation.
Using cast iron cookware, Dutch ovens or other methods of cooking not used widely today.
Food storage/preservation, canning, dehydrating, smoking
Hunting and fishing
Teaching self-defense; from shooting to hand-to-hand
Defense planner, fortifying a home or small area
Teach situational awareness
Mechanic; fixing cars, generators, small engines
Tool and die maker
Locksmith both traditional and someone who knows how to use picks (legally of course)
Water collection and purification
Yarn Work; sewing, knitting, darning, crocheting
Woodland management; coppicing
Alternative energy; setting up solar panels, wind turbines, making biodiesel and distilling alcohol for fuel
HAM Radio operator
Papermaker, for writing and toilet paper
Tending milk or egg producing animals
Aquaponics (raising fish)
Medical/first aid skills
Basic first aid and CPR training
Alternative and Complementary Medicine such as; Reflexology, Reiki, Hypnosis, Meditation (thanks Jim)
Items to Barter
Here is a list of barter items that I have compiled over the years. Some were suggestions from various forums, some are my ideas. I want to make a comment up front on two items that people always make negative comments on anytime bartering is brought up.
First is liquor. I have no problem with people not wanting to store it for barter. On the other hand, it will hold value and no one is saying you have to sell to everyone. You can decide whom you sell to.
The second is guns and ammo. Every time bartering is brought up, someone says something like “I would never barter ammo or guns. They could be used against me.” While this is technically a true statement, as with liquor, you get to decide to whom you barter with. Only trade or sell guns or ammo to people you know and trust. It will be a help to them and could provide food or protection for the community.
This list could be used for filling holes in your current preps as well as being stored for barter. I’m sure I missed some, so post them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.
I have read about bartering in countries whose economies have collapsed and in countries who were struggling after conflict and war. Some of the things they sought were the pleasantries to make them feel human again; perfume, jewelry etc. This was, of course, after their five basic needs were met. My point is that just because it’s not an item that is NEEDED for survival, that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth keeping for barter.
Powdered additives such as Gatorade or Kool Aid
Any shelf stable food, rice, wheat, beans
Foil Packets of baking active dry yeast
Cooking grates any size and shape
Canned and Dried Food
Coffee filters, which can be used for water filters
Eating & Cooking utensils
Bows and arrows
Pellets (pellet gun)
Plywood, shingles and roofing materials
Multiple screw sizes
Misc tools (trade outright or rent)
Kerosene (and cheap lanterns)
Varied sizes of propane bottles
Zippo lighter and lighter fluid
Solar battery chargers
Flint & steel
Famine hygiene products
Packets of laundry soap
Materials to make a clothes line to hang out washing on
cigarettes, I wasn’t going to put this on the list. cigarettes do go stale, but as an ex smoker, even stale smokes would be valuable to someone needing a smnoke.
Quick clot combat gauze
Small bottles Rubbing alcohol
Antibiotic ointment tubes
Athletes foot spray
Tweezers and scissors
Alcohol such as isopropyl or rubbing
Band-Aids of all sizes
Herbs, essential oils and the supplies to make salves and tinctures. (thanks Countrymom)
Small sewing kits
Rolls of string
Knitting yarn and needles
Nuts and bolts
Screws and nails
Zip lock bags
Hand saws and axes of any type
Bicycle tire repair kits.
All different types of files for sharpening
Crowbars of all sizes
Leather work gloves
Garden tools of any type
Plastic and metal tubs of any size or shape (many uses)
Hand air pump
Solar yard lights (can also be charged in daytime and used indoors for lighting at night)
Toilet plungers (the heavy duty types to agitate/wash clothes in a bucket)
Twine, rope and steel wire
Zip ties (all sizes and lengths)
Rope, string, cordage
Glue of all kinds
Knives, hatchets, axes
Nails and screws
Pencils and sharpeners
Playing cards or dice for games
Pocket-sized New Testaments
Simple water filters
Eye glass repair kits
Gold and silver
Books on all subjects, from how to, educational, technical, novels and even coloring books. As well as sheets of paper and magnifying glasses. (Thanks Jerry)
Gold and Silver coins; they will have their place. While true that some won’t know the value, there will be enough around that do to make these useful. Keep in mind that unless you’re making a large purchase, silver might be easier to trade then gold.
Yarn and knitting needles or crochet hooks
Shoes and laces
Socks and underwear
Winter coats and rain gear
Gloves such as work, garden and winter
The last item I’ll mention is time. Whether you offer yours in trade for something, or someone who has a skill you do not have offers theirs, time is a valuable commodity.
If you see one I missed, mention it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.