Monday, February 27, 2012

Doomsday Trading and Precious Metals

   Should paper money become just pretty paper, the lack of refined oil brings the trucking industry to a screeching halt, a devastating terrorist attack cripples our infrastructure, the Yellowstone Super volcano erupts, or any one of a Doomsday Prepper’s concerns unfolds, all manner of supplies will fly off the shelves and soon be unavailable to the average consumer. Unless you have an underground warehouse and the means in which to fill it, you will not be able to stockpile every supply, in sufficient quantities, that you may eventually need. Bartering may very well become the only means of obtaining new resources if left to our own devices. You may be planning to lock yourself away from the rest of the world and wait out whatever storm befalls you, but again, unless you’re held up in an underground, fully stocked fortress, the odds are you’ll eventually need to interact with what’s left of your community. Here are some things to consider that might give you some extra bartering power, but just use your imagination.

-Alcohols like rum and whiskey are relatively cheap and have many uses other than recreational consumption. It wasn’t all that long ago that whiskey was the standard anesthesia for major surgery, as well as being the preferred tonic for whatever ails you.
-Sugar and spices may become highly sought after luxury items.
-Medications and medical supplies of all nature are guaranteed to be extremely valuable trade items.
-Toilet Paper may seem like a mundane purchase now, but I bet no matter how much you’ve already stocked up, many of you haven’t even considered toilet paper until now…
-Precious Metals. Both for trade and for rebuilding a financial life after a collapse, raw gold and silver will ensure you have something of worth to work with. If you’re looking to purchase precious metals research the up-to-date value of the metal you’re interested in so you’ll know exactly how much extra you’re paying for the aesthetics of each product, which can vary greatly. If you enjoy a good science project you can recycle your old jewelry at home.


Materials needed-
-A large, untreated charcoal briquette
-A small stainless steel knife
-A small propane torch for soldering, jewelry making etc.
-Borax (In the household chemical isle)
-Bucket of water, or piece of wood with a shallow carve to mold your metal
-Safety glasses and heavy leather gloves
-Metal tongs
-Wire cutters or hacksaw to chop up large pieces
-A digital scale to verify finished weight

   Do this outside in a well-ventilated area. Work on a board or fill a baking sheet with dirt to protect surfaces from mishaps.
   Only mix like valued metals. 24 karat gold and fine silver are the purest. If you mix 24k gold with 10k gold, which has other metals in it and thus less gold, you’ll end up with a product of unknown purity. The same goes for fine silver (.999) if mixed with sterling silver (.925) will lessen its value. Gold and silver plated objects have miniscule amounts of the precious metal you’re looking for and this method is insufficient to separate them. If you’re unsure about what you have there are testing kits available to determine exact values.


1. Use the knife to scoop out the charcoal until you have a bowl indentation large enough for the material to be melted.

2. Make sure the charcoal briquette will stand securely upright. You may need to scrape the bottom flat if you’re working on a hard surface.

3. Use wire cutters or a hacksaw to cut rings and larger items into smaller pieces. Remove all non-precious metal parts and stones. Place the gold or silver material in the charcoal briquette bowl.

4. Don your safety gear.
5. Sprinkle a pinch of borax onto the material to be melted (it might help to have this ready on a spoon)  
6. Light the propane torch, low to medium flame, and slowly bring the flame fully onto the metal. You don’t want to blow away the borax or any small, valuable particles. Gradually increase the heat.
7. Heat until the material is fully melted, which may take 10 minutes or longer. Use the stainless steel knife blade to break up any stubborn particles if some seem to be clinging to form.
8. Once the metal is a fully molten blob, turn off the torch and quickly lift the briquette with the tongs and pour the contents into the bucket of water for rough nuggets, or into the hollowed space in a piece of wood for a custom molded shape. You can also just let the new gold or silver “button” cool in the charcoal.

   If you want to work with larger quantities of metal, you can use a high temperature clay pot (Gold melts at just under 2000 Degrees Fahrenheit, silver a bit colder), or purchase a crucible specifically designed for this purpose. If you want to get really creative there are instructions available everywhere on-line on how to cast your own rings using the “Lost Wax” method of casting.

   I probably don’t have to advise that you keep your stashes secret, but I will anyway. Always keep the extent of your resources a closely guarded secret, no matter how proud you are, especially when bartering with someone who needs what you have. It’s a good idea to keep the impression that you don’t necessarily have these things hidden in your closet, but you know how to get ahold of them instead, possibly through other sources. Never bring your goodies to the trading circle if you can keep from it, other than minimal samples to prove you can produce what you promise. It’s always safer to barter empty handed and make arrangements for trade at a later time, at least until you know who you’re bartering with; and bring as many people as you can along with you to discourage being robbed.

   There’s no doubt that if left to our own devices there will be those seeking to capitalize on everyone else, even more so than during these “good times”. Tragedy tends to bring out the best in some of us and the worst in others. I can only hope that helping out your neighbor simple because it’s the right thing to do never truly becomes a lost mentality, no matter how lost the structure of our society may become. Trade when you need to, help out when you can, and we may yet retain some sense of fellowship throughout our darkest hours.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! We can never be sure what we will need after doomsday. All we can do is seek as much knowledge as we can, prepare to be as self sufficient as we can be, and have plans for things that we can trade.



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