Back

Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #23: Matches

  

****

Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #23: Matches

 

****

****

This week's subject is matches. This is the 23rd in our articles series and I hope this information is helpful!

All previous articles in the series can be found in our library and in the magazine archives.  Upon request, reprint permission and an addendum of substantiating resources are available for all magazine articles. When requesting reprint permission or addenda, please include the issue date and full issue title. All magazine articles are copyright © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself ™ International. All rights reserved. ISSN 2474-820X. 

****

 

 MATCHES  

 

****

Harrier Whittier Frees photograph, 1900: Kitty Birthday Cake With Candles

****

 

Why are the recently introduced poorly performing 'green headed' kitchen matches such monstrosities?

And monstrosities they are. 
 

****

Matches and candles are now so poorly made, they've become dangerous.

****

Match heads contain red phosphorus, sulfur and potassium chlorate. The heat generated by phosphorus breaks down the potassium chlorate, and in the process, releases oxygen. Oxygen mixes with sulfur, producing a short-lived flame that we use for lighting things.

 

A functional, working match head.

****

A third of the matches in a recently opened box of Diamond safety green matches were missing their double tips, and those that had correct tips were unevenly dipped. More than half had dangerous defects in their wood shafts: many were obviously bent at angles of more than 5 degrees, some had obvious knot holes, and many were split, or splitting. 

 

Diamond Green Safety Matches; obviously a lack of quality control is not the only problem.

****

 

The information here should enable you to draw your own conclusions about precisely what has happened to what were, until recently, safe-to-use matches.

 

Frites "Végétaline" deux fois plus légères, deux fois plus faciles a digérer.
.

****

 

A match uses an igniter (red phosphorus), a fuel (once sulphur, now wax), and an oxidizer (potassium chlorate) plus some additional compounds. Strike-anywhere matches also use wood for the shaft, and safety matches use wood or cardboard for the shaft.

 

Ce que disent les allumettes; carte postale début du XXe siècle. 

****

This definition for "Match" comes from the entry "Match" in the 14th Edition, 1929, Encyclopedia Brittanica:
MATCH. A piece of inflammable material, such as wood, cardboard or waxed thread, provided with a tip which ignites by friction. From the very earliest ages some means of bringing fire into existence has been of primary importance. During the evolution of fire-producers, other methods than that of friction - both chemical and mechanical - have been employed but the most successful agency for obtaining fire has been the friction match."

****

Allumettes de la Régie contre les allumettes de contrebande. 

****

Phosphorus comes in a variety of forms, many of which can convert back and forth between each other. One form of phosphorus ignites on contact with air, another form doesn't, some forms are safe, while some forms have long histories as health-hazards. In 1906, an international convention at Berne agreed to prohibit the use of the yellow phosphorus form, also known as white phosphorus. The website for the former state match factory at Aubervilliers in France presents a comprehensive history on this topic. For more information: 
https://insitu.revues.org/12871
L’ancienne manufacture d’allumettes d’Aubervilliers.

****

How to create allotropes of phosphorus starting with white phosphorus. 

****


Our modern matches use a phosphorus polymer, an allotropic form of phosphorus known as red phosphorus. 

****

Phosphorus monotropic allotropes: structures of red phosphorus (left) and white phosphorus (right).

****

Sesquisulphide of  phosphorus can be used without any deleterious effects and has now supplanted the poisonous phosphorus throughout the civilized world. It's also known as P4S3, sesquisulphide of phosphorus,  phosphorus sesquisulfide, amorphous phosphorus, phosphorus sulfide, phosphorus trisulfide, and tetraphosphorus trisulfide. 

****

Phosphorus sesquisulfide, P4S3.

****

In a strike-anywhere match, all the reactive components are compounded together with a glue binder and 'dipped' onto the head of the match, including the red phosphorus component. The potassium chlorate, lead dioxide, or some nitrate, is the oxygen-releasing compound. The ground powdered glass component provides friction that aids in striking anywhere, and helps bind the materials evenly to create an even burn.

For a safety match, the ignitors are located separately, in a "match striking surface", a separate strip on the outside of the match box or matchbook. This separate strip contains a mixture of red phosphorus, glue binder, and ground glass powder. Upon striking, the red phosphorus component heats up and reacts with the oxygen-releasing compound (potassium chlorate, lead dioxide, or some nitrate) located in the 'dipped' head of the match, igniting the flammable material of the head and shaft. 

The ground glass powder component in either type of match is there to increase friction, so BEWARE: friction that results from striking against or with the powdered glass component generates enough heat to convert some of the red phosphorus back into white phosphorus, leaving a white phosphorus residue. White phosphorus is a health hazard. Dispose of BOTH used strike-anywhere matches and used safety matches promptly and carefully, and don't leave them lying around.
 

****

Enlarged match striking surface, made of a mixture of red phosphorus, glue and ground glass. The glass powder is used to increase the friction.

****

The wooden match stick, or cardboard shaft for matchbook matches,  is impregnated with monoammonium phosphate, to prevent an afterglow when the match is burned. And it's ammonium dihydrogen phosphate (ADP), which is also, and better known, as MONOammonium phosphate (MAP ), and NOT to be confused with adenosine diphosphate (also ADP) or with ammonium phosphate!

The wood match stick (or cardboard stick) is also dipped in paraffin wax, or a similar material, so the match will catch fire readily when lit;  the wax takes the place of the sulphur formerly used.

The binder glue in the head both binds the materials and serves as extra fuel.

Below are illustrations from Chemistry Of Hazardous Materials by Eugene Meyer, 1977, Prentice Hall.
 

****

Strike Anywhere Match, Chemistry Of Hazardous Materials by Eugene Meyer, 1977, Prentice Hall.

****

Safety Match with legend for both strike anywhere match and safety match, Chemistry Of Hazardous Materials by Eugene Meyer, 1977, Prentice Hall.

****


In 1929, here's the United States match manufacturing process, according to the 1929 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

"Modern matches are prepared from two species of wood: viz.: American pine and aspen. 

United States - The process of matchmaking in the United States differs radically from that common in England. The planks for the matches are sawed 2 in. thick, seasoned for two years, and then sawed into match blocks, of which those free from knots and with a straight grain are selected to be cured and fed into the match machine. At the head of the match machine, which is about 50 or 60 ft. long and 20 ft. high, is a frame which holds rows of solid dies, which descend vertically and cut out splints from the match blocks. Some machines cut 50 splints at each revolution, and, with a speed of over 300 revolutions a minute, have produced 10,000,000 matches in a working day.

Square stick matches are not popular in America and their manufacturing is virtually discontinued. Of all wood matches made in the United States, 97 1/2% are of the round grooved type - both strike-anywhere safety and strike-on-box safety types.  These splints are automatically forced out of the dies into the perforations of a cast iron plate. This forms part of an endless chain on which the splints are passed through a chemical solution, containing monoammonium phosphate, which impregnates the wood and prevents an afterglow when the match is burned. After drying to evaporate the water from this chemical bath, the machine carries the splint through a bath of paraffin wax, or similar material, so that they will catch fire readily when the match is lighted, the wax taking the place of the sulphur formerly used.
    
The machine then carries the splints through two dips to put the head on the match. The first dip gives the match the bulb, which is inert to ordinary friction and protects the tip of the match. The second dip forms the eye of the match, which is much smaller than the bulb and ignites when the match is struck. The modern match head contains a large number of chemicals, and other ingredients, such as phosphorus, chlorate, potash, zinc oxide, glue and forms of gums, ground glass, quartz, whiting, etc. which must be thoroughly compounded for several hours in large mills by means of special machines and under expert supervision. After being tipped the matches travel through blasts of air where they are dried. On their return to the head of the machine, punches drive the sticks out of the plates into a mechanism that packs the matches in cardboard boxes in two layers, with the heads in the opposite direction. Strips of cardboard are put over the matches and the covers sealed on the boxes - all by machinery. The book matches, which are supplied to smokers to be carried in the pocket, are safety matches, and are also made automatically by a machine that slits and dips the cardboard, puts the composition on the cover, and binds and cuts apart the books."

****

Larousse France, archives, Grand Encyclopedie, Allumettes.

****

~ Always be careful when playing with matches! ~

****

Risques; accidents domestiques en l'hiver!

****

 

I sign our magazine articles "See Into The Invisible". Thanks for reading.

Best Wishes, 
Debra Spencer

All Content is © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself™ International. Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.
Top
All Content is ©2019 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at www.suityourself.international Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.

Read Our Magazine! A Fortune Cookie Once A Week.

Enter your e-mail address to receive our magazine.
Email
Country
Please enter a valid email address.
Email address already subscribed.
All Content is ©2019 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at www.suityourself.international Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. ~ Winston Churchill