The actual process of striking a match seems like such a simple thing, but once you see the science behind it you’ll be awe struck to find out how much goes into it.
For more than 800 years, friction-lit matches have been evolving as the safest tools of lighting fire. With so much modern safety measures in place, modern matches are products of numerous chemical reactions that happen just within a tenth of a second. And to vividly show how these reactions take place, the American Chemical Society has produced a super slow-motion video that brings you to terms with just how astonishing it is to light up a match.
The 90-second clip stretches the flaming action that is captioned with descriptions of each individual reaction within the tenth of a second that it takes to light the match. This is probably the first video that clearly explains all the reactions that takes place when you strike the match. According to the video, the reactions that take place in modern friction lit-matches can be traced way back to the 1800s when Englishman, John Walker, mixed antimony sulfide, potassium chlorate, starch and gum. He then ignited them by striking them on a sandpaper to produce fire.
Later on, antimony sulfide was replaced with white phosphorus that made the process of lighting matches much easier and more reliable. However, White phosphorous was later banned after it was discovered that it was a health hazard and caused brain damage through a condition known as phossy jaw.
Many chemicals were later added to the modern matches such as the red phosphorus, which turns to white and ignites. The flame that comes out is maintained by a mixture of potassium chlorate, as well as other additives such as paraffin that enables it to burn faster and with ease.
The video that shows all these reactions in slow motion is utterly superb, fun-filled and you will definitely learn a thing or two from it. See we told you science could be cool.