Thoughts on preparing for bartering in a SHTF situation

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I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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Preparing for bartering in a SHTF situation

Buying stuff for your SHTF storage is good off course, and buying it on smart way so you can save some money is always welcome since most of us are not multimillionaires.
But have you ever thought about buying the things for SHTF scenario on some not so „regular“ ways? It will save you money too but maybe even more important is that it will prepared you and show you how finding and buying stuff will probably look when SHTF for real.

I am not advising you to do anything that might be against the law, I am simply gonna give you examples how I find some things. It is up to you how you or if you gonna use anything of it.

Have it when you do not need it (have it before you need it)

One of the most basic rules in preparing and acquiring things for SHTF is that you need to have it before you need it. You may think „oh, but it is so obvious“ yea and no. Sometimes it is not. When SHTF you may find out that it is very important to have for example tetanus shots updated, but then it can be too late. You need to fix that before SHTF.

Simply if you gonna look for the tetanus shots when SHTF price can be high. In every SHTF scenario anywhere in the world there is gonna be people who are gonna make fortune and power by having the stuff that most of the other folks do not have, because it was not so obvious that it is gonna be needed.

Ways to obtain things

Things can be bought in many ways. Some of them are illegal more or less so no advice, just examples.

I buy my fuel from guys who sell it not from the gas station, I buy it always from the same guys so in that way they do not find it useful to cross me with adding strange stuff inside in order to make more money. Repeat customer is good customer.

Where do they get it? I do not know, and I do not want to know. But some examples would be that they are just dealers for the big guy who want to „go across“ some taxes expenses, or they buying it as a „agricultural“ fuel etc. I do not ask. Is it illegal? Yes. Am I seen and did worst things then that? Yea, sure. Survival.

Ways to buy things does not necessary needs to be illegal, it can be just strange and other than you use to. In that way you are just preparing yourself for finding things when SHTF.

Some its like practice for getting things directly from people. Why not start now and tell neighbours what you can get for them cheaply and ask them if they have connection to some stuff too?

I know people in different areas of life. So I know guys from local politics and guys from local small gangs. I like to keep my ear on ground as apart of preparation for coming SHTF. Money is short here and during war people got used to get stuff through other people so the same system still works.

I also often trade for something when it makes sense. I use my preps and trade two pairs of police boots for new jacket for example.

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Do not think only about „ what things do I need?“ feel free to think about „what things people need?“ because you are gonna trade it.

Look around you and keep in mind when SHTF the term „useful thing“ gets whole new meaning. So you ll see ( I saw that ) that for some people it is priority to loot mall and take TV set, stereo or something similar.

I saw few guys in first days of chaos were rolling 4 new car tires from looted mall, they were laughing, very happy because they thought they made good „deal“ with that. I guess pretty soon they realized that those 4 tires are worth like one pocket knife or something similar.

Smarter folks, or you can say people with „vision“ look for the weapons, food or similar useful stuff.

Important thing is that everyone took everything, it was like storm. As the time passed by and when everything „more useful“ was gone people took everything else, like pieces of shelves where stuff was kept. People find use for that too.

For example when SHTF I expect people to smash parking machine for the money inside, I am not gonna care for the worthless coins inside, but those machines work thanks to small solar panels installed on pole above it. I would go for the panels that most of the folks not gonna notice at all.

Small things were always useful to trade. Also some bigger „invented“ things had good price, like small wood stoves made from cans or pressure cookers. Pretty soon people who were skilled made good trade with handmade portable wood stoves.

Maybe you can find something to build with empty cans or other waste products?

People tried to trade everything so you could see some funny stuff too, like I wrote in other post the old FM radio taped to some huge batteries handmade from other sized batteries and taped together. Or homemade teas guaranteed to cure something mixed from different kind of plants.

Of course scams were everywhere and you needed to be very cautious.

It was always better to have more small things to trade then bigger bulkier stuff. Easier to carry and easier to sell. Candles, batteries, lighters, canned food, spices, small tools, pocket knives…


Of course that preppers look for discounts and wholesale, yard sales and similar chances to save money. But also you need to think about practicing bargaining.
I am buying lot of things on local flea market or through people I know. You can find lot of things on flea markets, and if you look hard you can find stuff that are not usually belong there.

Few rules :

  • Never act like you really need the thing you want to buy (let it be your second choice for example)
  • Split money in more pockets when you bargaining (do not bargaining with hand full of money)
  • Many times seller will set the price basing on how hesees you in that moment. So of course do not show off any symbol of wealth.
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Also remember that buying things at the flea market (in your case maybe yardsale or similar) is very good practice for trade in SHTF condition simple because there is a few things similar.

Prices not fixed (they are more thing of oportunity and skills), way how you look act and talk sometimes can be more important than how much money (value) you have in pocket.
Remember that when SHTF lot of things can be valuable, things that you usually would not even notice in normal life.

For example when SHTF batteries and candles had big value, reasons are of course because people are still used to commodity of light at night, using it in every room etc.
But very soon folks realized that candles are something like luxury so for example if you wanted to read book you would read it by daylight, or people in house simple gathered in one room under the light of one candle in order to spare the others.

So value of candles went high up in beginning and then got down.

So if you planned to make some big success with something for trade it can be said that you need to choose correct time. Some things have same high value almost all the time, like coffee, or cigarettes.

Other things gain value over the time, multiple times value. Stuff like some seeds, plants and knowledge about plants like teas, and herbs for healing etc.
Point is if you offered at the beginning stage of SHTF homemade teas as a remedies for something you would not have big success, because people did not believe that SHTF gonna last too long, or in other cases people still had some stash of antibiotics, painkillers etc.

When few month passed and people realized it is gonna SHTF gonna last for longer period, and no doctors, no hospitals, diseases spreading of course that home made remedies become suddenly popular and in the same time much more expensive.

I have more examples about trading in my survival course.

So small things that are kinda ridiculous cheap in normal time and normal life become important equal expensive. One more example would be flints for lighters.
Things like these are very important if you stash many things in order to do much trading to make life easier when SHTF.

Point is to carefully observe what things have what kind of value and more important what thing have chance to multiple value in few weeks or months.

I even knew guy who make small necklaces for luck, you know kinda of small metal on rope and if you carry that all the time you can be sure that bullet gonna miss you, he was something like monk, he trade that for food and it worked. When times are desperate people do and trust in lot of things.

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52 Responses

  1. Good info as usual. I can see using daylight when you have it, and besides saving the candles, maybe you don’t want to give away hiding location with that light.

    Do you mean that if a person has skills with natural methods for healing, it might be in demand? How long before you had no doctors or hospitals? What was sanitation and using bathroom like?

    1. After some time people with knowledge about natural remedies simply “gain on value” because situation deteriorated more and more. Real hospitals stop to exists very fast, it was matter of weeks. It was possible maybe to find doctor somewhere but very hard and usually dangerous. Without all services sanitation become very poor of course.

  2. I am 70 years old, and a new friend made the comment this week that she thought I had done about every job there is in my life time. This post reminds me of my very first job. I was a young teenager and it seems I was a sub contractor for my uncle. He took jobs of digging hole for the ‘out houses’. Of course he was there to supervise and told me what to do, and I did the digging. I think I still remember how to ‘get the job done’.
    Is this going to be a good skill to have when TSHTF?
    History repeating it’s self. Ole John going back to his first job..
    Selco, thank you so much for all the information you share with us. As far as I am concerned, of all the preparedness sites that are out there in ‘info land’, yours is by far the best and most important..

    1. Mister, I am also a little greyish and my teeth are all still there but, like my dog, they are getting worn down pretty low. I remember when I was very young there was a serious debate amongst my relatives regarding my aunt-n-uncle’s place. turns out they had their well water tested. it tested positive for pig urine. seems they were smart enough to put their outhouse properly away and downhill from their well but their pigstye was uphill of their drinking well. Can you elaborate on these such complications?

  3. Thanks for leaving the link for silver/gold trade during shtf after this article. I tried to convince a couple of preppers about the dangers of reading with gold, but their response was, “That’s what the (guns) are for!”
    I’m from New Orleans and 24 pack of beer went much further than a $20 bill. Our family intends to store liquor and cigarettes. I wonder if i can vacuum pack cigarettes to keep them fresh. Would that make us a target?

      1. In a SHTF situation, stale dried tobacco will be in great demand, because nicotine addicts don’t really care where it comes from. Growing tobacco is a great idea if you have a garden you can protect, but if growing replaces food you need, it’s a bad trade, especially if your climate is not good for growing it.

  4. Funny you don’t mention toilet paper. You can hang onto it for a long time, it doesn’t rot. Gotta make sure rats and mice don’t get into it, but otherwise it stores well. After a long time in SHTF, I’d imagine people would pay for the comfort, yet they wouldn’t go too far out of their way; they wouldn’t kill you for it. I’ve stocked a lot of toilet paper purely on that idea.

    What are your thoughts regarding that?

  5. **For example when SHTF I expect people to smash parking machine for the money inside, I am not gonna care for the worthless coins inside, but those machines work thanks to small solar panels installed on pole above it. I would go for the panels that most of the folks not gonna notice at all.

    Clever! The fire/evacuation systems in many buildings have battery powered lights. Even a bicycle with flat tires can power a generator. I am buying over-the counter medications and personal care items for barter. Particularly anti-diarrhea medications. Coffee & toilette paper. If nothing happens, I’ll still need it. I just walk around the house and make a list of every type of item in my every-day life, and then organize it by often I use it. Even something as mundane as finger-nail clippers. We take for granted so many common items.

  6. One other note, perhaps it can be expanded on later – one must be very careful where and how bartering is done. In some third-world countries, you may arrange to meet someone to barter or buy or sell, and have their friends simply shoot you in the head and take whatever you have. Also good to be careful that you are not followed by others after you conclude the deal and leave. These things do not happen in flea markets or swap meets, at this time – but if we are talking about SHTF, then anything goes.

    1. Ah – I am sorry, I did not remember that you made this point excellently in the ‘gold and silver’ link. Excuse my oversight! Well done.

  7. I picked 35 more solar ‘landscape lights’ at Walmart..After charging in full sun,they shine all night.One led per unit,,,very bright,and only $1.00…Also non fancy DPms ars,,$600

    “inter arma, enim silent leges” (in times of war, the law falls mute).

  8. Thank you Selco you have done a world of good and may shake some Americans from their slumber . Here is a tip that some may use . I buy eggs by the 512 pack , just a little over 42 dozen at the restaurant supply store . We go through about 15 eggs a week so it lasts about 8 months . We put 4 dozen eggs in the refrigerator and the rest we give them a heavy coat of mineral oil and store them in our basement that does not get much above 60 degrees . Storage of food is all about temperature at 70 degrees they would only last half that long .
    Great course Selco . I did enjoy it.

  9. No matter how much I think I know, either I learn something new or the thought process is stimulated by what you write Selco. Thank you. Wolf…

  10. Aspirin, and very simple old Antibiotics. 5 months into a SHTF a huge number of people would KILL for an aspirin (be aware of that, they will kill you for it) and having some of the hard pressed powder penicillin that lasts for decades without losing potency you could be a king by saving someone’s life…. but most likely you will help someone survive the pain of an infected tooth. In SHTF nobody is going to the dentist and brushing their teeth 3 times a day. Within a few months people’s teeth will be rotting out of their heads in massively painful ways. If you are the guy that can “find” things to make their pain go away or reduce for a while you will be someone important.

    This also can be a double edged sword as the low IQ crowd will just kill you to take all your stuff. So learn how to make some of the basic pharmaceuticals from nature. learn how to make aspirin. have someone make you today a pill press (Illegal as hell in most places due to drug war laws) and get all the books you can on frontier medicine as well as modern field medicine.

    Someone that has a mould to make 9mm bullets and the tools to reload them has a valuable craft. 1,000,000 bullet primers takes very little space. It’s that keg of smokeless powder that is tricky to hide.

    Selco mentioned pocket knives… The $1,00 china cheapie crap you see today… in SHTF people will want that $1.00 junk badly. so if you buy a case of 50 of them to hide a some nice PVC stashes you have hidden… Well that ‘s a nice trade item to have a large supply of.

    Haggling and learning social engineering is more important than Selco points out. I will go to flea markets and garages sales and look for items and ask prices, If I see something I really want, I will go elsewhere and very carefully put in my front pocket the exact amount of cash I want to pay for the item. I will then later after time passes, go back to the seller and look over the items again, casually offer less than I am ready to pay. They of coure respond with “It’s worth $90.00 It’s made in china!” respond with a higher offer but do NOT insult them or their item… If they keep moving on price, keep playing the game. IF they hit a wall and you are not at the price you want to pay, take out the cash pulling the pocket out so they see it’s empty and say, “I only have $15.00 left.. I will pay you this much for that item…”

    If they really want to sell it, they will take the money and feel good that they got as much out of you as possible. Be gracious to them, thanking them for the great deal they gave you. and then leave and NOT shop around them any more that day. If they see you haggling with someone next to you that is an insult. Today in civilized society they can only get upset. In SHTF they can pull out a pistol and put a round or Two into your head then get back what they sold you and whatever else is on you. If you are playing “poor guy” then STAY the poor guy at all times and be aware that others may be watching you. This happens today at things like Gun shows. A buddy pulled the “all I have left” angle and then was spotted buying an expensive item at another seller. The guy confronted him about it. ALWAYS assume you are being watched, if you are unlucky to be in SHTF, you ARE being watched no matter what you think. Maybe mot a seller, maybe someone that sees that you bought 5 items from 5 different people… Hey you got resources and are probably worth robbing.

    1. I do not understand why a cheap made-in-china pocket knife would be in demand no matter how bad it got in SHTF. Everyone has a kitchen drawer full of butter knives. Take 2 or 3 out and sharpen them to stiletto points if you need a knife that bad. I used to carry exactly that in the side pocket of a pair of painters pants for years…an old worn out antique butter knife sharpened up.

      1. I agree with most of that advice, but do caution that Chinese MULTI-TOOLS are not a bargain at all. Not only are many shoddy manufactured, the tool design themselves – BAD. You can find used QUALITY multi-tools in pawn shops for 1/3 – 1/4 their original cost. If you don’t push them – they will last a long time.

        Definitely pick multi-purpose items tha are lightweight. A hammock is not only something you lay down in. It camo net, rope,chair, and can be configured in many different items than a bed. For a small package, well worth having some extras for trading.

      2. Butter knives are stainless steel and cant hold an edge longer than 5 minutes. Cheap China $1.00 folding knives are actually carbon steel and hold the edge a far longer time time (at least the folders I found are).

        Plus a folder is easier to carry without stabbing your leg or cutting through the pocket and ending up on the ground.

  11. Bars of soap (3 for $1 today) and liquid laundry detergent are among my stock-up items for future barter deals. Fishing hooks and sinkers, fishing line and inexpensive lures are other items to consider.

    1. I don’t remember if it was selco or some other source that recommended this…women’s niceties.

      in WW2 the things that make a woman a woman were second only to weapons, parts and booze. stockings, makeup, perfume, lotion, scented shampoo, feminine hygiene, birth control, etc. These are things that will make a man a king in SHTF.

  12. SUPER INFORMATION! I am highly grateful for all that shared. We have been prepping for a while and have some basic necessities to last a few months. I have serious concerns with security, even though we have a capable arsenal and ammunition. I really want a fence around my property. An 8 foot rod iron would be ideal, but I cannot even fathom the cost. I have considered obtaining both concertina and barbed wire, as a back up if I can afford a chain link fence or as a primary if we don’t have a fence by the time SHTF. We put aside of many of the items suggested above, but did not earmark anything as barter. I smoke, and thus would be less likely to trade tobacco products away. I look at toilet paper similar to ammo in that you can never have enough. I do want to buy more feminine hygiene products, even though my wife no longer needs them. I would consider these items “barter only”. I believe that the maxipads can be used as bandages in a pinch. As I see it, it will be near impossible to barter items without being a target for theft. I think that the single thing that worries me most about TEOTWAWKI is that every stranger is a potential adversary. I can foresee a lot of unnecessary violence just because everyone is on edge, worried about getting robbed.

    1. “I look at toilet paper similar to ammo in that you can never have enough.”

      Concerning the above quote: Selco, you have medical training and experience, also of wartime death due to drinking non-potable water.

      On European/N. American blogs toilet paper before and after SHTF is viewed as absolutely necessary. But the opposite is true in Asian countries. In India, the lota is used for perineal care. The left hand is used for cleansing, hence the taboo on greeting people with it.

      See also

      Some time ago I started to experiment with only a 100 millilitre plastic supermart squeeze bottle previously used for holding lemon juice, for perineal cleaning. As the water is ejected from the bottle at pressure, and I can direct the flow and timing, this is advantageous for cleaning.

      My toilet paper useage ahead of SHTF has thus dropped by about 80%. Toilet paper is like water, you need a lot of it after SHTF and it cannot be compressed to save storage space except by removing the cardboard tubes.

      I read in one US survivalist forum that a lady had transferred to using a perineal squeeze bottle and some clean rags for drying, which she boiled at weekly intervals. She doubtless uses drinking-water i.e. potable water for this.

      However, potable water may be unavailable at SHTF.

      So my question, Selco, is this:

      the anal sphincter is sensitive to infection. Would you recommend using any water of less than drinking-water quality for perineal cleansing? Because I am not sure about the effect of herbicides/pesticides/bacteria/viruses.

      Or would you say that if the perineum is then dried quickly, infection risk is low?

      1. To say it on very short way-places on your body that are get wet and warm are (very) prone to infection. So extra care is always welcomed.
        But in my time and for me most of the time water and wet, clean (more or less) rag did job and i did not had problems. Also you need to understand that it was not my choice, i did not have better options most of the times.
        Answer is simple: if you have enough resources go for the best and safest way (cleanest), and as situation worsens (if) you ll be forced to do it on less safe ways. I did, and i survived.

        1. Thanks for your reply Selco. I have questions which are not about bartering, maybe it they are worth a separate blog.

          1. Background
          2. My questions


          As English-language survivalist blogs are mainly visited by men, who often were or are soldiers or police, topics such as domestic tasks or child/parent care are under-represented.

          You write that you had “more or less clean rags” and “most of the time”, which for you was about 12 months.

          I think I remember from 2011 or 2012 that you were living with extended family in an apartment block in town. But there was no electricity, you wrote how a relative said when the power and hence the lighting came back on, “we have been living in a pigsty”.

          So these rags had been cleaned and dried without power in all types of weather (cold, wet, hot, sunny) over 1 year at your location.

          At SHTF when the power grid fails, cleaning and drying clothes becomes very, very time-consuming and causes problems for hands, fingers, elbows, if there are no manual machines to reduce the time and medical problems. But the manual clothes wringers of 1900 are no longer manufactured in many countries.

          If SHTF means that men under 45 have to fight/trade/garden, clothes-washing becomes the task for older people and women and children, unless the group splits all tasks equally.

          In many countries, the average age is rising due to low birth-rate, so there is an incentive when thinking about SHTF to plan for enabling older people to perform useful tasks in the survival group. This means e.g. planning raised garden beds only.

          However, extracting water from clothes manually is a great strain on hands, fingers and elbows over time, and older people with arthritis or rheumatism cannot do it.

          The women living above Lima, Peru in very bad conditions spend 6 hours per day hand-washing. This is why a manual washer and spin dryer:

          is being developed.

          There are similar rotary drum solutions using a bicycle drive on Youtube.

          My questions:

          Selco, I am interested in how your female relatives (?) cleaned and dried clothes without power.

          – I assume they had electric automatic or semi-automatic washing machines before the war but no electric tumble driers?

          – So did your family use clothes lines when it was sunny/warm? and in winter?
          did you have a shared attic with other apartment owners/tenants attic in which the warm air from the apartments below allowed people to dry clothes in winter? If so, how did that work if there was only some wood heating coming up from the apartments in the winter?

          – was there an increase in skin disease because you had to wear clean clothes that were still damp?

          I do not think you wrote about this in 2011 or 2012.

          Concerning wringing water out of clothes without the spin-cycle in the electric washing machine, to speed up drying:

          in your part of Europe, stone fruit grows well (slivovitz, raki). You had relatives outside town. Maybe they had a stone fruit press for fruit juice or distillation like these?

          Some time ago, E-Bay showed a photo of a stone fruit press 100 years old that had obviously been used for wringing water out of clothes. It means being able to press water mechanically out of many clothes at once instead of having to do one piece at a time by hand in a way that attacks the wrists, fingers and elbows.

          Did you or your relatives ever use this method?


          1. Expect child and elderly mortality to rise sharply. Many cities suffered several Cholera epidemics back when sewage and drinking water went in and out of the same river. Todays high age for the elderly and high survival rate for infants is largely a result of modern water treatment. Having unscented chlorine on hand and diarrhea medication is a good precaution.

            Get a copy of “Where there is no doctor” today. It will save someones life.

            If legal, get a still for making alcohol. If not legal get the parts to build one. The uses for alcohol are numerous. Read up on what manufacturing processes where alcohol is essential.

          2. Interesting thoughts on washing. Here on our farm in NZ we hang our washing on a clothes line made of fence wire stretched between two trees. You need to find a site which has exposure to wind ( makes a big difference) and of course to sun. In winter I try to get the washing on the line as soon as the sun is up.. and get it off just before the sun goes down. You plan your washing around the weather.

            The old style “wringers” went out in the 50s around here and are now like hens teeth. I got lucky one day recently on our E bay ( I had a search for listings) and found a guy selling two for a good price. I bought both. I pulled them apart to clean and oil them.. and found that they have wooden bearings for the rollers.

            Anyway.. these “treasures” can still be found if you are lucky. I do believe there are new ones on sale.. but the old ones are far better.

            If you have to do washing by will be a huge task…

          3. On washing, I think I can offer one thing useful here: I bought a washing “plunger” type tool that you use to manually agitate clothes. Looks similar to a toilet plunger (which you can use too) but it is designed to flow the water and agitate more. Very cheap, very dependable and will be something anyone can use.

            On squeezing the water out: You don’t need a wringer like the old days. Get a nice, clean industrial or utility mop bucket with the mop wringer built in. It will take out almost all the water easily, collect it in the bucket and can be used again if decent water is scarce.

            I bought both of these items new online and probably paid less than $30.

            Hope that helps…

          4. as far as finding wringer washers goes your best bet is in an area where theres lots of amish like pennsylvania, ohio, indiana and michigan. they still almost exclusively use these type and run them with gas motors. theres even dealerships near me where they rebuild and sell them along with other appliances that the amish are allowed to have

      2. I think you beat the dead horse regarding wiping your butt. You might be over thinking that issue. BTW, as far as compressing a roll of toilet paper goes…lay one on the floor sideways and stand on it. Then put it in a ziploc bag…done it many times for camping, hiking, and even run of the mill travelling. removing the tube is a waste of time.

        1. I just remembered something I used to do…I used to save my half used rolls of toilet paper from my house and stand on them to make them flat. Then stash them in a plastic bag for travel use. My job at the time required that I travel a lot to places of no cities and I only had choices between small town motels or camping. Small town motels are often very expensive because they know they are the only option around for many miles and they often are not very pleasant to stay in. I learned by experience how to do things without motels.

        2. @John: “prefer to beat butt to beating a dead horse”, LOL.

          You write about your camping and hiking, but why will SHTF last only as long as your trips? I will not be delivering diesel and power to the toilet paper factory post-SHTF,either.

          Selco and others advise storage for the longer term.
          Survivalists often work on the 12-month garden harvest cycle, i.e. 12 months storage.

          Average annual toilet paper consumption in your country, apparently USA; is 23 kg (Wikipedia). A set of 8 rolls weighs 1kg, so 23 kg is 23 x 8= 184 rolls.

          The set of 8 rolls is ca. 40cm x 28cm x 10 cm.

          So your 23 kg for the first SHTF year for one person only is 23 x 10 cm= 2 meters 30 cm high. Who has that sort of storage space for a family of four, say? I don’t. And if you have to bug out, are you taking that much paper along?

          Wikipedia says consumption is 50% less in Europe or Japan, but that still means 11.5 kg per annum per person and a pile 1 meter 15 cm high per person.

          By contrast, non-potable water falls out of the sky into a tarp laid in a hole in the garden. There are creeks and rivers.

          I estimate 1 liter of cleaning water per butt per week is needed.

          Selco used clean rags and presumably non-potable water.

          Gathering non-potable water is dual purpose, because it can become drinking water too.

          But unlike paper coffee filters with many uses – they are in my preps – I do not see toilet paper storage as sensible, also because of the unnecessary waste disposal problem.

      3. The use of a squeeze bottle for toilet cleaning is a good idea. There is a bottle we call a “Toilet Duck” which has a “Z” neck for squirting under a toilet rim. These are ideal for holding in your right hand and squirting up and washing with your left hand. ( Which is why food in your left hand is a no-no in Muslim countries). Then use a small piece of cloth to dry.
        You could put some antiseptic into the wash water. I once used a few drops of a liquid antiseptic hand wash. Iodine (proviodine) would also work, both to disinfect the water and to protect against infection ( ??? ) .
        Stock up also on simple absorbant cotton cloth. Something like the old baby diapers ( nappies).. which dry quickly and wash easily ( you could boil them to sterilize). You really have to have a plan to do without toilet paper.. eventually.

    2. @Irish. A traditional fence is just too easy to overcome. A better and cheaper solution would be to plant a thick wall of thorny plants about 10 feet thick if you have the space. If its high enough and thick enough the only way to overcome it is to hack through it which takes time and makes noise. They lose any advantage because of noise and time required to get through. Then if you need to take pot shots at the invaders there is no cover and they will have to depart the area. Where as any fence can be over come by climbing over which may only take a minute or two, quicker if they have a ladder.

    3. Why iron fences? do you need to defend from hordes right now? IF you have a couple of years to wait simply plant the right type of hedges. Some super thick bush type hedges that have pickers and then also plate with them other types of thorny bushes.

      During WW-II even our tanks could not make it through most of the Hedgerows in Europe and we had to design a special plow for the front of the tanks to even make it through. Plant hedges, heck even bury barbed wire inside of them for even more defense or standard chain link No fence you can build short of poured concrete 12 feet high will stop a full on assault, but good hedges with a lot of evil plants will really slow down an attacker trying to sneak in, But you will get no warning. what you need is people to regularly patrol your perimeter or 6 very good guard/attack dogs to act as the worlds best alarm system. I recommend both.

      Even your idea of iron fences, someone clever can easily get past them while you are sleeping or your attention is elsewhere, like dealing with that family at the front gate asking for food… 2 guys sneak through from another side and then attack from behind….

      1. iron fences with razor wire on top or something similar means you have something worth protecting which means its worth taking. the hedge idea would be way less conspicuous also

    4. Irish – A stack of “T”-posts, a T-post driver, and a couple rolls of stock fence and barbed-wire won’t cost so much to acquire that it would delay plans for a more permanent barrier, and can allow you to erect an emergency fence in a day or so if you have to. If you are considering a hedgerow, this could be set up for the hedges to grow over, which would make it more difficult to cut through – especially if you ran loops of barbed-wire along with the stock fence, and let the hedges engulf it all. Neither pruners nor wire-cutters would be able to do the job; it would take both, together.

      Chuck B.

  13. What are you thoughts on condoms as a prepping item Selco? I have recently stocked up on bricks which are great for stoves and blockading doors and windows.

    1. Sure condoms are important, much more important then usual, and can have different use too. Yea it make sense to store items for blockading openings, i do that too.

  14. I have gathered a pile of cheap reading glasses. I have kept them as my eyes get progressively worse over the years. Let a customer pick which prescription works, then trade for what you need.

  15. I read other survival blogs, but when I read your writing, because of
    your broken English, I feel like you are speaking directly to me. Don’t
    change a thing you’re great!!

  16. As to the Toilet Paper Controversy, I can’t see anybody stocking up enough for a lifetime, especially for a family, unless you happen to own a missile silo. On the other hand, stocking up enough for “a while” can make the initial transition to SHTF a little easier for some simply by postponing having to deal with one more issue. A couple cases stored in the attic amounts to very little investment; if you live in an apartment, you might acquire some of those enormous commercial rolls, each of them equals several “standard” rolls.
    (The definition of “a while” depends on each individual’s available space, resources, opinion, and disposition.)

    Chuck B

    1. @Chuck B: I am afraid I do not agree. You mention a family. That means wife plus children.

      You wrote:


      But if you “postpone” getting wife/children becoming used to using water and cloth rags instead of paper until after SHTF has happened, a husband is storing up big trouble.

      Because dealing with human waste is a very emotional topic in all cultures. People love their tried and tested habits. Check out the horror expressed by water-using South Asians on Youtube at the Western habit of “smearing the stuff around” with toilet paper.

      By analogy, you do not start planting a garden or gathering rainwater only at SHTF.

      As I wrote, I need ca. 1 litre of water per butt per week per person. Unless non-potable water and fuel for boiling water to sterilise the rags is scarce – this could be in a treeless semi-arid zone – I would not stock TP.

      However, storing a couple of weeks TP per person is reasonable in my view, as many SHTFs will not last that long.

  17. Hey Selco

    Would you perhaps put up an article about the top 10 things/services that were most sought in a post SHTF situation and why?


  18. TP or not TP, that is the question.

    Some TP is the answer. Don’t think of it as a comfort issue, think of it as a sanitation issue. Stock some toilet paper for when you are short on water and have to prioritize it for drinking, or for when that cholera breaks out and you’ve got 10 people with coordinated diarrhea. (That’s a symptom of mostly men on these boards; any mother could tell you when you get multiple kids sick at the same time the potty trained toddlers go back in diapers and the older kids get rubber sheets back on the beds, or post SHTF, the secret TP stash comes out.) TP has disposal issues, but if you’ve got to stay holed up in an apartment or something it can be bagged and gotten rid of later; using a wash method, once you’re out of water you can’t ‘wipe’ OR drink and then you’re screwed. There’s also many types of fecal consistency, (another things moms know about…) and some diet changes might make it a lot trickier for westerners to use a ‘wash’ method.

    Also aspirin- aspirin is one of the few OTC meds that actually does go bad. If it smells at all like vinegar or looks yellowish don’t use it. It will fuck your stomach lining up right quick, and do other bad stuff. Maybe store non-aspirin painkillers.

    1. Muslims will wipe with their bare hand , and lightly dip it in water bole ( same water bowl that others have washed their hand with ) ………….but they wont eat pork .

  19. Pet Food , Americans in particular are very attached to animals that they keep , they are literally a family member . People will want to hold on to their pets as long as they can , even if the people are suffering themselves . I watched a homeless kid ( in his 20’s ) one day , he managed to scrape up enough money to buy a hot dog , he then sat down on a bench , tore the hotdog in half , gave one half to his dog that he picked up along the way , and ate the other half . My girlfriend is Russian , and in my age group , grew up in the Soviet Union , she has a hard time understanding our devotion to our pets , dont get me wrong , she is a very loving , good woman ……but there are cultural differences , Pet food in the US will be a very good barter item . Trust me on this .

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