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Crude oil — black gold as it's known — is not as simple a commodity to turn a profit on as actual gold.

Sure, with volatility in the oil market it might seem tempting to buy a few barrels, store them in your garage and wait for the price to go up.

But as Bloomberg's Tracy Alloway found out, it really isn’t all that simple. She ended up with more like a jar because a barrel would be just too dangerous to store . And even acquiring that took some harrowing work on her part.  Alloway also  learned how the hydrogen sulfide gas emanating from her crude could silently suffocate a person. The black gold  smells like rotten eggs too, she points out.

Once Alloway finally gets payment for the oil (which she’s storing in her New York apartment) she expects to make about seven cents. And, of course, that seven cents does not take into account insurance, transportation and the myriad other factors that go into trading crude oil futures.

Alloway wrote about her experience trying to buy a barrel of crude oil for Bloomberg, and spoke with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal about what she found. 

Click the above audio to hear the full interview. 


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Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal