The "vesuvians," principally used as lights by smokers, have rounded splints, made from alder, or some similarly hard wood, the object being to prevent the ignition of the wood, and consequent dropping of the burning composition. The more expensive kinds are made on glass bodies, consisting of glass piping of small section, which is chiefly procured from Italy, and should yield some 1200 splints to the lb. J. W. Hunt and Co., of London, have an ingenious method of retaining the composition by means of a piece of wire, about 1/3 in. long, inserted by hand into the end of each splint; it answers the purpose effectually. The vesuvian-splints are placed by hand into the dipping-frames, dipped twice or three times into the burning composition, until the head is of sufficient size, and then finally dipped into the igniting composition, in the same way as an ordinary match, an interval being allowed between the operations, for drying. Compositions. - Igniting compositions are generally manufactured of some form of phosphorus mixed with oxidizing agents, with which it will readily inflame by friction. Such are saltpetre, chlorate of potash, and red-lead; these are mixed up with glue, which causes them to adhere to each other and to the wooden splints.

Most makers have a particular mixture of their own; the following practical recipes may be taken as fairly representative, the first being the best: - (1) 1/2 part by weight phosphorus, 4 chlorate of potash, 2 glue, 1 whiting, 4 finely-powdered glass, 11 water; (2) 2 parts by weight phosphorus, 5 chlorate of potash, 3 glue, 1 1/2 red-lead, 12 water.

The Germans replace the chlorate either by nitrate of potash or nitrate of lead, together with red-lead, hence their matches strike silently, without the short detonation peculiar to English goods.

The match composition is coloured either with a coal-tar colour, ultramarine blue, Prussian blue, or vermilion. In preparing the composition, the glue and the nitre or chlorate of potash are dissolved in hot water, the phosphorus is then added, and carefully stirred in until intimately mixed, the whole being kept at a temperature of about 100° F. (38° C). The fine sand and colouring matter are then added, and the mixture is complete.

(3) Dipping composition for safety-matches consists of 1 part by weight chlorate of potash, 2 glue, 1 sulphide of antimony, 12 water. For the rubber on the box, 2 parts of amorphous phosphorus and 1 of powdered glass are mixed with the solution of glue, and painted on the box.

Vestas are tipped with similar ingredients, but the taper being less rigid than wood, a larger proportion of phosphorus is added.

(4) Matches from Sweden were found to be tipped with an igniting composition made up of the following substances: -

In 100 parts.




. 7.12

Potassic bichromate

. 5.59

Potassic chlorate .

. 46.76

Ferric oxide .

. 409

Manganese . .

. 1307



It is supposed that the following proportions were employed in the manufacture of the composition: -


1 1/4 lb.


1 ,,

Potassic bichromate ...

4/5 ,,

Potassic chlorate ...

6 3/4 „

Ferric oxide ...

1/2 ,,


2 „

Sulphur ....

1 „

In consequence of the small proportion of oxygen-yielding substances to sulphur, a large quantity of sulphurous acid is evolved on igniting the mass.

(5) In another composition, likewise from Sweden, Wiederhold found to 1 of sulphur 21 of potassic chlorate; this composition yielded no free sulphurous acid, the sulphur being wholly oxidized to sulphuric acid. (Dingier's Polyt. Journ.)

(6) English Matches

2 parts fine glue soaked in water till quite soft, 4 parts water, heated together in a water-bath till quite fluid; remove the vessel from the bath, and add 1 1/2 to 2 parts phosphorus, agitating the mixture briskly and continually with a stirrer having wooden pegs or bristles projecting beneath. When the mass is uniform, 4 or 5 parts chlorate of potash, 3 or 4 parts powdered glass, and sufficient colouring matter in the form of red-lead, smalts, etc, are cautiously added, and the whole is stirred till cool.

(7) Silent Matches

Dissolve 16 parts gum-arabic in least possible quantity of water, triturate in 9 parts powdered phosphorus, and add 14 parts nitre, 16 parts vermilion or binoxide of manganese, and form the whole into a paste.

(8) 6 parts glue soaked in a little cold water for 24 hours, and liquefied by trituration in a heated mortar; add 4 parts phosphorus, and rub down at a heat not exceeding 150° F. (66° C); mix in 10 parts powdered nitre, and then 5 parts red ochre and 2 parts smalts, and form the whole into a uniform paste.

(9) Instead of phosphorus, lead sul-phocyanate mixed with precipitated antimony sulphide is treated in the moist state with an oxygenous substance, such as potassium chlorate, with indifferent colouring and rubbing agents, such as glass, quartz, pumice powder, ultramarine, etc, and with glutinous substances, such as glue, gum, and dextrine. The mixture is used in place of the materials employed for igniting sulphur matches, wax lights, etc. (H. Schwarz.)

(10) The following is the recipe given by Berzelius: - Weigh out 30 parts of powdered chlorate of potash, 10 of powdered sulphur, 8 of sugar, and 5 of gum-arabic, with a little cinnabar to communicate colour. The sugar, gum, and salt are first rubbed together into a thin paste, with water. The sulphur is then added, and the whole being thoroughly beaten together, small brimstone matches are dipped in, so as to retain a thin coat of the mixture upon their sulphured ends. When quite dry, they are fit for use.

(11) The heads of vesuvians are made up principally with powdered charcoal and saltpetre in some such proportions as the following: - 18 parts saltpetre, 19 charcoal, 7 powdered glass, 5 or 6 gum-arabic; to these ingredients are added a little scent, in the form of satin-wood, lignum-vitre dust, cascarilla bark, or gum benzoin, which render them fragrant while burning. The igniting composition is identical with (1) or (2).