MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: How come some matches need to special surface and not others?

Date: Tue Mar 9 05:53:53 1999
Posted By: Jeremy Starr, Grad student, Organic Chemistry, ETHZ
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 919892204.Ch

Hi Miranda,

There are two types of matches. "Safety" matches can only be ignited on a special surface (provided with the match book) while "strike anywhere" matches can be ignited on any rough surface. The difference between them is the location of the red phosphorous used to ignite the match. A safety match has only sulfur, powdered glass, and an oxidizing agent in the tip. The red phosphorous is mixed with sand and powdered glass in the striking surface. A strike anwhere match has some red phosphorous on the tip so it does not require a surface containing red phosphorous.

This concept is explained nicely at the following website:

I hope this was helpful!


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