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How to Light a Match Safely

Updated November 21, 2016

Matches are commonplace in many homes and workshops and are used for a variety of lighting tasks. From lanterns and candles to campfires, matches are a convenient and easily stored means of quickly and efficiently starting a fire. Lighting a match involves striking the match head across an abrasive surface to generate a spark. Abrasives in the match head help with the striking process. The spark in turns ignites the head of the match, which contains sulphur that burns hot enough to ignite the match stick.

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Hold a wood safety match between your thumb and middle finger. Position your fingers near the base of the match or at the opposite end from the match head.

Place your index finger just below the match head for support when striking the match.

Touch the match head against the strike on the side of a match box or against a rock or similar abrasive surface.

Move the match head briskly across the surface to ignite the match head. Slide your index finger down and away from the match head as it sparks and begins to burn.

Cup your hands around the match as it begins to burn the wooden stick. Continue to protect the flame from wind until the flame burns strong. Move the match to the candle, kindling, lantern or other item to be lit.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wood safety match
  • Abrasive striking surface

About the Author

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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