Critical Survival Commodities

by Guy W. Spotts

What are Critical Survival Commodities and how do they effect you?   First there are many thing that are Commodities today that will not be Critical Survival Commodities  like computers, and other  consumer electronics.   But what are they, I think a good definition might be “any necessary consumable material that  because of it means of production or because of it’s high rate of consumption will become hard to find after the end of the world”.   Critical Survival Commodities may not be rapidly identified as such because the do not fit in to that category before the end of the world some may be waste or recyclable that go away to some factory to be turned in to new product.  Lets look at some Critical Survival Commodities


“Waste Fat and Oil”

This material is loaded with BTU’s that can heat home fuel lamps and vehicles  it will be left for the taking at fast food places cross America, filtered it can fuel oil lamps, and stoves, with further processing it can become Bio Diesel and run vehicles.  The by products of this could be used to make soap, water proof roofs and clothing.  Every fast food joint has any where from 50 to 800 gallons of it waiting to be picked-up.


“Dry Cell Batteries“

This material will be totally gone within 5 years chemical reactions within the batteries will destroy them some rechargeable batteries will live longer depending on there charge status but these will need to be charged after they are recovered.  Because batteries in  computers, and other  consumer electronics most of this equipment will be dead within 5 years.


“22 Long Rifle Ammunition”

22LR will become a standard of currency it will become such a   Critical Survival Commodity that some warlords will build their empire on it alone while it is easy to find today once the machine stop this material will be going the way of the Dodo Bird.  But because 22LR has so many users it will be in demand for the next 100 years.  A single box of fifty rounds could easily be worth 5 steers or 2 quads.


“Wheat Corn and Other Grains”

Grains will also be a standard of currency it will become the single Critical Survival Commodity and will be the gold of any rebuilding effort for the next 200 years.

Others that merit listing:

  • Lead & Brass from old shooting ranges
  • Finished steel, brass, and copper bar stock and plate
  • Cutlery
  • Sewing and knitting machines
  • Sewing and knitting supplies
  • Scrap metal
  • Guns, and weapons
  • Salt
  • Lye
  • Other raw chemicals

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  1. I suppose if we’re talking about everything collapsing at once – but Argentina has no warlords trading .22. My adivice for trade goods is to go to a flea market in your area and see what moves – add food and some ammo to that and you’ll have things you can make a profit on in ANY disaster (personal or national economic) and not just a zombie apocalypse. After Katrina a couple set up shop in a bar and traded booze for water and food and even money. every survival situation won’t be the end of everything.

  2. Everyone mentions guns and ammo. Make sure you have cleaning supplies for the firearms, oil, solvents, etc. You are not going to go a long time without maintenance on your weapons. You may want to talk with a gunsmith about the firearms you have, and what are ‘likely to fail’ parts you should have spares for.

    Sharpening stones are cheap now. They won’t be after TSHTF.

    Hand tools – Powered tools won’t last long. Saws, hammers, screwdrivers, vise, carpenter’s square, nails, and PRACTICE using them.

    As noted above – plywood – you can, and probably will have to, cover windows or doors after riots, if it comes to that.

    Most important: Never give up. The most important ‘commodity’ will be perseverance and persistence.

  3. Used motor oil can be used to heat a home. Mother Earth News had an article 40 years ago about how to build a waste oil heater.

    Firewood is cheap right now and if stored correctly it can be stored for years. After SHTF it will be harder to get and more expensive.

    Sugar keeps forever if you keep it dry (it keeps if it gets damp too but clumps). We take sugar for granted but it was a sought after luxury just 100 years ago and would be again in a post SHTF world.

    Motor oil and tires: My parents went through the great depression and WW II and both of these essentials were hard to get. Admittedly in a total grid down situation you may not need tires but Motor oil is still useful.

    Tarps are always useful. I check Harbor Freight sales regularly and they have all kinds of tarps. They have many other essentials too. Add a few packages of 6 mil plastic sheeting.

    Canning jars and lids; Walmart had 12 quart jars w/lids for $6 this week.

    Books; I buy books at Goodwill and take them with me on long trips. I love to read but with so many other distractions (TV, internet, movies, etc.) I don’t find the time. When these things are gone a good book will be a pleasent distraction.

    Rechargeable batteries and a solar powered charger.

    Dutch ovens and a little practice before SHTF.

    Charcoal: Not necessary by any means wood will work just fine. But last fall after barbecue season I bought 80 lbs of the top brand charcoal at Walmart for $20. I can cook an entire meal in one pot using 3-6 briquits.

    A good tent; If the worst happens and you have to bug out you can in fact live in a tent even in the winter. It is easier with a good tent. Cabelas has some good tents. I have two. One is actually prepositioned (buried/cached) at my standard hunting camp, the other is packed and ready to go. It is NOT a backpacking tent but it will stand up to snow and wind and has a roomy interior. (my hunting camp is on private property. A ranch owner I know allows me to camp every year. I placed the camp within 100 feet of his property line which borders BLM land. Behind the 10,000 acres of BLM land is a national forest. If my friend suddenly decided to refuse to let me camp there I simply move a few hundered yards and I’m on public land. Not a perfect plan but a good one.)

    Toilet paper; A luxury to be sure but one we have grown accustomed to. Take a sheet of plywood and place it up in the rafters of an unfinished garage and you have 32 sq/ft of storage space. You can put a lot of TP in 32 sq/ft.

    Plywood; OSB (oriented strand board) is cheap. I can get a 4×8 sheet of 7/16″ (sometimes 5/8″) for under $6 at Home Depot. This stuff will be like gold post SHTF. You will hear people tell you it is no good for outdoor use. Well, they are right, except I have seen it used for years and years with no paint no covering of any kind and is still quite serviceable. Why pay $20 a sheet for the good stuff unless you absolutely must. ( built an open side lean-to for my firewood storage. Against the backwall are 12 sheets of OSB. They take up little space, can’t be seen unless the firewood is gone and will be there when I need them. My only regret is that I didn’t put more back there.)

    Ditto for dimensional lumber, especially 2×4 and 2×6. With some dimensional lumber and OSB I can build amost anything.

    Nails and screws.

    Cloth/material; My wife sews and has large and small scraps. Can be used for repairs to clothing and blankets and making clothes and blankets. Add a few inexpensive canvas painters tarps for heavy duty purposes.

    Rope/string/thread. Wire; thin and thicker steel wire for making repairs. There is an aluminum wire both poly coated and plain sold for clothes line that is highly useable for other things. Thin cable typically sold for dog runs etc.

    Sorry, kinda run on…

  4. B, B, B, & B – that is our motto.

    Beans – food, water, preservatives (salt, mason jars, etc), seeds, arable land (doesn’t have to be your own if you think the neighbors will di di mau to a FEMA camp), cooking utensils (including solar ovens), vitamins, medicine, etc.

    Boots – clothing, footwear, tents, shelter, fire making tools (learn to make fire without matches), tools and hardware to support your homestead, towels, hats, gloves, etc

    Band Aids – I think this one is self explanatory, though intermediate medical training is also vital.

    Bullets – firearms, ammo, cleaning equipment, knives, tomahawks (really intimidating weapon), fixed e-tools (another really intimidating weapon, Russian Spetsnaz were masters at CQC with e-tools), and other ways to hunt game, control pests (including the 2 legged kind), and defend the homestead.

    .22’s are a good item to keep in your stash (I have 5 or 6 .50 cal ammo cans full of them), but .223 or .308 are much better for personal defense. It is not hard to fashion and carry a shield which will stop a .22. In the middle ages 2 grunts would carry a roughly 6′ square thick wooden shield with a crossbowman sandwiched between them, the archer would shoot through a small hole in the shield while being well protected from return fire, it wouldn’t take much of a leap into the 21st century to see a group of bad guys doing the same thing to approach a house defended with a bunch of .22 caliber weapons. It takes a pretty heavy piece of steel plate to stop a .308. Peace through superior fire power!

  5. I am reluctant to even post this as it exposes my paranoia. I have on occassion slept in my woodpile. I have a three sided shed that holds about 6 cords of wood (when full). From their I can see my entire driveway, half of the front porch and all of the back of the house including the back door. The woodpile tends to be this years wood on one side and the dryer wood from last year on the other. This leaves a walk in area with enough room for a couple of people to lay out a sleeping bag if they wanted to. It also places me where I can see most of the approaches to the house and most of the “cover” someone might use to conceal their approach. I think if TSHTF I will slip out after dark each night to enjoy sleeping in the night air. Any bad guys would be expecting residents to be inside the house and would not be worried about the unattractive wood shed. If one or two bad guys approach I could effectively defend and ambush from this position and if a gang shows up I can more easily slip away before being seen.

  6. Something to have which is not really a “currency” but produces currency is a still. Have a still and the associated tools and know how to use it. I’m not suggesting you become a full time moonshiner pre-SHTF (or even post-SHTF), but if you don’t know how to correctly separate the toxic components from your hooch, you’ll have a bad time if you drink it and maybe even a worse time if you sell/trade it. Alcohol makes a good cleaner/sterilizer, and a still also allows you to make other chemicals, including distilled vinegar, another good cleaner.

    In fact, with alcohol, vinegar, and water, you should be able to clean out even corrosive ammo fouling. A bit of motor oil and some shoelaces, and you’re able to clean and lube a firearm to an acceptable level.

  7. I have to say Derek has a point, about booz. I store a couple cases of ” the good stuff” ( I tell my wife it’s for entertaining). An expensive bottle of whiskey can net you quite a bit in trade. I heard stories of people trading cases of beer for labor, after the big tornado out break in Alabama a few years ago. People will always want the comforts of ” the good life”. If you have that to traide it could be very useful.

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