In making wax vestas, the first process is the coating of the cotton. A number, say 20, of strands or wicks, composed of 15 to 20 threads each, are led from a bale placed upon the ground, through guides arranged overhead, down into an oval steam-jacketed pan, filled with wax composition, underneath a presser arranged in the centre of a pan, and through a draw-plate pierced with holes of the required gauge of the match-body; thence it is led some 15 or 16 ft. over a drum 5 or 6 ft. in diameter, and then to a similar drum on the opposite side of the bath, from which it is repeatedly passed through the paraffin, wooden guides being arranged to support the wick wherever necessary. The distance traversed after the cotton has passed through the bath is made as long as possible, since the composition neither dries so readily, nor adheres so uniformly to the strand, as 2 in the after-dipping. It is passed and repassed about 6 times through the bath, until the wax coating is of sufficient thickness, and just passes the holes in the gauge-plates. Considerable care is necessary to ensure evenness in the first coating, and to watch against broken threads.
The drum has a metallic plate on one part of its circumference, and here the wax taper is cut into lengths of the circumference of the drum, is tied in bundles, and is carried to the table having partitions to hold each bundle of lengths. The lengths are pressed against a gauge, and cut up by means of a kuife working on a pivot. The match-bodies so cut off are carefully transferred to shallow zinc frames, constructed of the required depth, and made with a lid which is slid down when the frame is filled; they are then carried to a filling-machine of a small size, and usually worked by hand. Here they are filled into dipping-frames in the same way as ordinary matches, the machine having its hopper arranged to suit the size of the bodies. Wax matches can be dipped in the same way as those of wood; but some years since, S. A. Bell devised a machine in which frames are attached to two chains running on either side of guides. Between them, a flannel roller revolves in a pan of liquid composition. The frames, with the splints arranged downwards, run over this roller, and the composition is thereby added to the bodies with considerable regularity and dispatch.
The machine will dip 3500 to 4000 frames a day, and since each frame holds about 4500 splints, it will dip about 18,000,000 splints in that time. The drying is effected, when practicable, in the open air, the frames standing together in twos or fours. At other times, the splints are dried by hot air, distributed by means of revolving fans, in rooms set apart for the purpose. After drying, they are sorted and packed in boxes of various size, pattern, and capacity.