|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Hi, Dan – safety matches contain potassium chlorate in the head, and phosphorous sesquisulphide in the strip for striking the match. It is almost certainly the latter or a product from it, which is causing the effect you see, which is probably chemiluminescence. You are right to be somewhat concerned about the safety of this – I would suggest not doing this experiment on skin… Here are a couple of web-sites to visit about matches and their evolution, as well as a hazard data sheet relating to the classification of chemicals to which phosphorous sesquisulphide belongs. http://www.people.virginia.edu/~shj2n/case/class2/case3/matches.html http://www.pipe-smokers.co.uk/Yester_Year/First_Light_1/first_light_1.htm http://hazmat.dot.gov/erg2000/g139.pdf If I were you, I’d pose your question direct to a manufacturer of safety matches and see what they have to say – especially about the safety issue but also they can probably be specific about the reactions you are causing. If I can be of further help e-mail me at adamhh@dial/pipex.com
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