How to Light a Match with Your Fingers

Written by alex huebsch
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How to Light a Match with Your Fingers
Take extra precautions with matches and finger-lighting (match image by Rich Johnson from

Matches have been used for lighting fires for centuries. There are two different types of matches: the safety match and the strike-anywhere match. Safety matches need to be struck on a match box, but strike-anywhere matches can be lit by striking it against any rough surface. Strike-anywhere matches can even be struck by using a person's fingers. This makes for a quick and effective way of lighting a match and also works as a party trick to show other people.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Hold the matchstick with the thumb and middle finger of one hand. Make sure it's held tightly.

  2. 2

    Hold the match head between the thumb and middle finger of your other hand, so the match, when pulled from the stick side, slides through the fingers against the grain of the fingerprint. This adds more friction and greater possibility for striking the match.

  3. 3

    Pull the match through the fingers while holding it on the stick side, and it should light. If it doesn't light, try drying the fingers or even rubbing them with a rough material like sand.

  1. 1

    Open the matchbook and bend a match down towards the bottom of the book. Keep bending the match around the book without letting the match break off.

  2. 2

    Bend the match all the way around the match book, so the match-head is touching the striking strip on the back of the match book.

  3. 3

    Hold the match-head against the striking strip with your thumb and place your middle finger on the other side of the match book, so the book is held tightly between these two fingers.

  4. 4

    Snap the fingers, so the match-head is struck on the striking strip, and it should light.

Tips and warnings

  • Try again if it doesn't work the first time.
  • Make sure your fingers aren't moist or have lotion or anything liquid on them as the match needs a rough, dry surface to strike against.
  • Strike the matches fast because when playing with fire, you can get burnt.

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