Each factory uses its own methods and chemical mixtures, though, in a general way the latter do not vary greatly. It is impossible here to give a full account of the different steps of manufacture, and of all the precautions necessary to turn out good, marketable matches. In the manufacture of the ordinary safety match, the wood is first comminuted and reduced to the final shape and then steeped in a solution of ammonium phosphate (2 per cent of this salt with 1 or 1.5 per cent of phosphoric acid), or in a solution of ammonium sulphate (2.5 per cent), then drained and dried. The object of this application is to prevent the match from continuing to glow after it has been burned out. Next the matches are dipped into a paraffine or stearine bath, and after that into the match bath proper, which is best done by machines constructed for the purpose. Here are a few formulas:


Potassium chlorate...........2,000 parts

Lead binoxide... . 1,150 parts

Red lead........2,500 parts

Antimony trisulphide.........1,250 parts

Gum arabic...... 670 parts

Paraffine........ 250 parts

Potassium bichromate......1,318 parts

Directions: See No. II.


Potassium chlorate...........2,000 parts

Lead binoxide... . 2,150 parts

Red lead........2,500 parts

Antimony trisulphide.........1,250 parts

Gum arabic...... 670 parts

Paraffine........ 250 parts

Rub the paraffine and antimony trisulphide together, and then add the other ingredients. Enough water" is added to bring the mass to a proper consistency when heated. Conduct heating operations on a water bath. The sticks are first dipped in a solution of paraffine in benzine and then are dried. For striking surfaces, mix red phosphorus, 9 parts; pulverized iron pyrites, 7 parts; pulverized glass, 3 parts; and gum arabic or glue, 1 part, with water, quantity sufficient. To make the matches water or damp proof, employ glue instead of gum arabic in the above formula, and conduct the operations in a darkened room, for parlor matches dry the splints and immerse the ends in melted stearine. Then dip in the following mixture and dry:

Red phosphorus..... 3.0 parts

Gum arabic or tragacanth............ 0.5 parts

Water.............. 3.0 parts

Sand (finely ground) . 2.0 parts

Lead binoxide....... 2.0 parts

Perfume by dipping in a solution of benzoic acid.


M. O. Lindner, of Paris, has patented a match which may be lighted by friction upon any surface whatever, and which possesses the advantages of being free from danger and of emitting no unpleasant odor. The mixture into which the splints are first dipped consists of

Chlorate of potash... 6 parts Sulphide of antimony. 2 parts

Gum............... 1.5 parts

Powdered clay....... 1.5 parts

The inflammable compound consists of Chlorate of potash. 2 to 3 parts

Amorphous phosphorus.......... 6 parts

Gum............. 1.5 parts

Aniline........... 1.5 parts

Red or amorphous is substituted for yellow phosphorus in the match heads. The composition of the igniting paste is given as follows:

By weight Soaked glue (1 to 5 of water)............ 37.0 parts

Powdered glass...... 7.5 parts

Whiting............ 7.5 parts

Amorphous phosphorus (pure)......... 10.0 parts

Paraffine wax........ 4.0 parts

Chlorate of potash. . . 27.0 parts

Sugar or lampblack . . 7.0 parts

Silicate of soda may be substituted for the glue, bichromate of potash added for damp climates, and sulphur for large matches.

The different compositions for tipping the matches in use in different countries and factories all consist essentially of emulsions of phosphorus in a solution of glue or gum, with or without other matters for increasing the combustibility, for coloring, etc.


English.—Fine glue, 2 parts, broken into small pieces, and soaked in water till quite soft, is added to water, 4 parts, and heated by means of a water bath until it is quite fluid, and at a temperature of 200° to 212° F. The vessel is then removed from the fire, and phosphorus, 1.5 to 2 parts, is gradually added, the mixture being agitated briskly and continually with a stirrer having wooden pegs or bristles projecting at its lower end. When a uniform emulsion is obtained, chlorate of potassa, 4 to 5 parts; powdered glass, 3 to 4 parts; and red lead, smalt, or other coloring matter, a sufficient quantity (all in a state of very fine powder), are added, one at a time, to prevent accidents, and the stirring continued until the mixture is comparatively cool. The above proportions are those of the best quality of English composition. The matches tipped with it deflagrate with a snapping noise.

II. —German (Böttger)

Dissolve gum arabic, 16 parts, in the least possible quantity of water; add of phosphorus (in powder), 9 parts, and mix by trituration. Then add niter, 14 parts; vermilion or binoxide of manganese, 16 parts, and form the whole into a paste as directed above. Into this the matches are to be dipped, and then exposed to dry. As soon as they are quite dry they are to be dipped into very dilute copal varnish or lac varnish, and again exposed to dry, by which means they are rendered waterproof, or at least less likely to suffer from exposure in damp weather.

III.   (Böttger.) — Glue, 6 parts, is soaked in a little cold water for 24 hours, after which it is liquefied by trituration in a heated mortar; phosphorus, 4 parts, is added, and rubbed down at a heat not exceeding 150° F.; niter (in fine powder), 10 parts, is next mixed in, and afterwards red ocher, 5 parts, and smalt, 2 parts, are further added, and the whole formed into a uniform paste, into which the matches are dipped, as before. This is cheaper than the previous one.

IV.   (Diesel.)—Phosphorus, 17 parts; glue, 21 parts; red lead, 24 parts; niter, 38 parts. Proceed as above.

Matches tipped with II, III, or IV, inflame without fulmination when rubbed against a rough surface, and are hence termed noiseless matches by the makers.