Watch: 6,000 Matches Igniting Each Other in Chain Reaction

May 16, 2019 Updated: May 16, 2019

A video showing 6,000 matches igniting each other in a chain reaction has attracted lots of attention online.

The fire starts with a single flame, but slowly builds up until it is quite large.

Viewers were quite taken with the footage.

“That was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed,” said one.

“This video was satisfying to watch,” said another.

“I like but I think you could do more extreme,” added yet another.

The first modern, self-igniting match was invented by Jean Chancel, assistant to Professor Louis Jacques Thenard of Paris, in 1805. The match head was made from potassium chlorate, sulfur, sugar, and rubber.

(Public Domain)

History of Matches

Meanwhile, the first depiction of a match was possibly in China. In 1366 AD, the Cho Keng Lu describes what may have been a match in 577 AD.

It says, “If there occurs an emergency at night it may take some time to make a light to light a lamp. But an ingenious man devised the system of impregnating little sticks of pinewood with sulfur and storing them ready for use. At the slightest touch of fire, they burst into flame. One gets a little flame like an ear of corn. This marvelous thing was formerly called a “light-bringing slave”, but afterward when it became an article of commerce its name was changed to ‘fire inch-stick.'”

In 1270 AD, the Chinese text “Wu Lin Chiu Shih” describes matches sold in Hangzhou.

The first friction match was invented in 1826 by Englishman John Walker. His matches consisted of wooden splints or sticks of cardboard that were coated with sulfur and tipped with a mixture of sulphide of antimony, chlorate of potash, and gum.

Meanwhile, there is a difference between safety matches and “strike anywhere” matches.

Safety matches typically only have “potassium chlorate” and strike anywhere matches have phosphorus sesquisulfide and potassium chlorate.

The “special striking surface included with matches (e.g. side of matchbox)” is what safety matches use to ignite. And “any rough, hard, and dry surface (e.g. side of matchbox, wood, rock, brick)” are viable options for strike anywhere matches, according to a writeup of the two.

“If so, I recommend you buy safety matches. However, not just any old safety matches, but high-quality ones such as waterproof matches or, even better, stormproof matches (stormproof matches are waterproof and windproof),” the writeup says.

There’s a reason why safety matches are recommended.

“Strike anywhere matches are hard to come by nowadays. Many brands have been discontinued. The only brand widely available in the US at this time is Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Matches,” it says.