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All About Matches: The Important Nuances Every Smart Survivalist Needs to Know

Teaching kids survival skills is not always easy but it can be a lot of fun. One of the early hangups when it comes to making fire is that the use of many fire-making implements is really hard for kids. Lighters can be tough for little hands, Ferro rods require lots of practice, and things like a fresnel lens only work with the strong midday sun. Of course, they do not know all about matches.

All about matches

I have found that matches are absolutely the best fire-starting method for kids to use. Sturdy wooden matches work really well.

You probably don’t realize how many different kinds of matches there are out there. I am talking about everything from paper matches to metal matches. There are even matches that you can drop in the water when they are lit and just pick them up and light them again!

In this article all about matches we will walk you through each type and how to best use them.

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Why Carry Matches

So, why would YOU carry matches? If you have a Ferro rod, lighters, and whatever else you might carry to make fire, why the matches? Having several fire-starting options is always a good idea. Something like strike-anywhere matches can be screwed into a waterproof tube and basically go through anything.

You can literally swim with them tucked away safely and when it comes time to make fire you just unscrew the tub and strike them to get flame. If a lighter gets wet you need to get it dry again before it becomes viable. With something like stormproof matches, you can just wipe them dry with your shirt and fire them up.

Matches makes flames rather than sparks

Matches make a flame. They do not throw a spark. Those are two very different things. A flint and steel throws sparks, a Ferro rod showers sparks but a match head will ignite and you will have a flame.

This can be used to ignite tinder or even a fire extender to really get your fire going. That flame is a sure thing while throwing sparks can be quite a struggle in certain conditions. Matches are a great option for fire starting and that is why you should know all about matches and carry them.

Types of Matches

We have been using matches for hundreds of years and since then there have been many iterations. We are gonna walk you through some of the most popular matches on the market today.

Paper Matches

Paper matches have always struck me as a fire starting implement that worked best indoors. They are soft and even a little moisture can ruin them. You would never find these in a bugout bag or camping backpack.

50 Paper Matches

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These matches are very cheap though. You can invest in a ton of them even if it is just for starting a fire in the home fireplace or wood stove. Since they are affordable they could be a viable option for you.

Wooden Matches

There are a variety of wooden matches with different colored tips and longer or shorter pieces of wood. For me, a wooden match is very effective in lots of conditions. These matches come in a box and have a striking board on the box. If you can keep that box dry then you will be able to light these matches with ease.

Wooden Kitchen Matches

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There is something about lighting a candle with a small wooden match. It harkens back to a different age. I love to have these matches around. They are also dependable if you need something to start a fire with outdoors.

Strike Anywhere Matches

The utility of the strike-anywhere match is the fact that, well, you can strike them on any rough surface and they will ignite. These are great matches that are very reliable and are something you should consider storing in your fire kit.

Greenlight Strike Anywhere Matches

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As long as you can keep them dry they will make fire. You gotta play with strike anywhere matches if you are going to learn all about matches.

Lifeboat Matches

Lifeboat matches come in a container to protect them from moisture. They have an extended match head that will burn longer than ordinary matches and will burn through wind and rain. The matches are hand-dipped and varnished for an added level of protection.

Waterproof and Windproof Lifeboat Matches

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Each container of lifeboat of matches has 25 matches inside. These matches strike on the waterproof container that they come packed in.

Stormproof Matches

Stormproof matches have taken all of the best aspects of the matches we have mentioned till now and wrapped them up in the best match for survival that money can buy. These matches can literally be dipped in water and relit if there is still phosphorous left on the match.

UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case

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These matches burn for 15 solid seconds even in serious wind. They come in a case that carries up to 40 matches. Each pack comes with 25 matches.

These are not strike-anywhere matches and require the striker on the container. That is the one downside with stormproof matches, but their ability to light in the rain makes them an important part of learning all about matches.

Metal Match

If we are going to talk all about matches then we have to discuss the metal match. The metal match is a very cool invention that is made up of two pieces. One piece is a container for the match and the other piece is the metal match itself.

SURVIVE Permanent Metal Match

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While it is called a match this is actually a combination of fire-starting materials. None of which are an actual match. The metal match contains a wick. The main compartment contains lighter fluid and the magnesium tipped match is struck against the side of the main container. This lights the wick which is soaked in lighter fluid.

It might be something that interests you and is a part of learning all about matches, but it is much different than a traditional match.

Protecting Matches During Survival

While some of the matches we talked about were waterproof and others might be stored in waterproof containers, it is still important that you keep excess moisture away from these matches. I like to have a container that has an O ring so I know my matches will work no matter what happens. This is a very important part of learning all about matches.

If you do not have a container like this then you can place matches in a ziplock bag. That is an affordable option to add an extra layer of protection.

A waterproof container for storing matches

Learning all about matches means that you can also improve upon their design yourself!

Another popular method for taking ordinary wooden matches and fortifying them is to melt some paraffin wax and dip the matches in that wax. Then if they get wet the wax will be the barrier between your matches and the moisture.

Starting a Fire with Matches

You can learn all about matches by making a fire with them. The difference is that you do not have to be as diligent with your tinder as you do when you are dependent on Ferro rods and flint and steel. While these are great fire starters they require very fine tinder so you can turn a spark into an ember and then blow that ember into a fire.

All about matches and starting a fire with one

I am a big fan of the log cabin fire lay that basically stacks up fuel like a log cabin and you stuff your tinder down in the center with a little kindling. Light your fire with matches from the bottom or just drop a lit match down through the top.

If you have quality tinder down there it will catch right away. One of the best types of tinder that you can get your hands on for free, and it’s already processed, is dryer lint. Pack this stuff up in ziplock bags. You can even throw your matches in the same bag!

Wrapping Up All About Matches

We have been using friction-ignited matches since 1826. This is a proven technology that works to start a fire. They have fired up wood stoves, cookstoves, campfires, and forges over time. There is no reason why you would not call on matches in a survival situation.

Now that you know all about matches, which type are you going to pack in your bugout bag? Do you like the idea of being able to strike matches anywhere? What about those great stormproof matches that can be dipped in the water while they are lit and still be fired up again! That is an impressive match.

The big difference to remember when it comes to knowing all about matches is that matches bring a flame to the party. They are much different than other firestarters that depend on hot sparks. I can start a fire with a Ferro rod any day of the week but it is always easier when you have matches because the flame touches the tinder and the heat is on.

If you’d like to learn more about matches, check out the 10 Best Survival Matches to Withstand the Elements.