MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What causes luminescence from residue of burned match striker

Date: Mon Mar 6 17:02:44 2000
Posted By: Harry Adam, Research Associate, Research Division, Kodak Limited
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 951679678.Ch

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.

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/

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