How do Matches Work?

Did you know you wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for fire? Okay, that may seem obvious, but it’s really important to the survival of the human species, it allowed humans to travel to climates that would’ve otherwise been uninhabitable to humans because of temperatures. It also allowed humans to spend less time hunting, as the fire that was used to cook raw meat and vegetables, also assisted the body in the digestion process. Alright, so now that we’ve established that fire is important, it might be beneficial to know how it’s created; here’s how: High amounts of energy can cause fire, but how does an item that weighs less than a penny create something so powerful like fire, yes we’re talking about matches.

Alright, let’s get scientific. A match head is made of a handful of ingredients, like sulfur, potassium chlorate, and crushed glass. When the match head strikes a substance that’s infused with sand and red phosphorus, it creates a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction is cause by energy that’s produced as a byproduct of the head of the match running along the abrasive sand and red phosphorus surface. This chemical reaction causes the red phosphorus to turn to white phosphorus, which releases enough energy to create the flame. After all, fire is the expulsion of energy. The other chemicals in the match head, like potassium chlorate, serve there purpose to assist in the ignition process. Since fire needs oxygen to maintain it’s combustion, the potassium chlorate serves to break down and release oxygen as the energy is expelled during the phosphorus reaction. Oxygen then works with the sulfur to keep the flame burning bright, well; as long as a strong breeze doesn’t extinguish it.