Waterproof matches are expensive, but you can make your own for only a fraction of the price. Listed below are a number of effective and proven ways to make waterproof matches you can use for camping, backpacking, and emergencies.
METHOD 1 OF 4: USE TURPENTINE
The BEST & SAFEST Method is to use Turpentine. (Turpentine has a higher “flash point” relative to Acetone, which is commonly used in nail polish and does not involve the use of flame as is needed in the Wax or Paraffin methods.)
1. Pour 2 to 3 large tablespoons of Turpentine into a small (Tumbler sized) glass.
- If you do not have a double boiler, you can melt the paraffin wax using a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water. You can also melt the wax in a pan on low heat, but this increases the chance of causing a fire.
- Do not use a plastic cup to sit turpentine in, as it may be melted by the chemical itself.
- Turpentine effectively displaces all hygroscopically absorbed moisture content. So any wood stemmed matches (regardless of age) can be used.
- Turpentine has a relatively high “flash point” in comparison to Nail polish, therefore it is the safest to use. Mineral Turpentine, Pine, or Citrus turpentine all have the same waterproofing capacity.
- The matches may also be completely covered with the wax to make sure water can’t migrate up the matchstick.
- The Nail Polish method is more volatile than Turpentine, but is better than wax that can more easily break or be scratched.
- Even though the matches will be waterproof, it is a good idea to store your finished matches & striker patch in a waterproof container, such as a small 35 mm film container, or any other sealable & waterproof canister.
- This should be done soon after buying the matches so that the matches don’t pick up too much moisture from the air.
- The candle method works best with wood stemmed matches. Do NOT USE with Plastic or Waxed stems.
- Decant the remainder of the unused Turpentine back into the original container.
- Make sure to transfer unused turpentine into recyclable plastic water bottles for safe storage, it is best to transfer outside in case of spills.
- Wax in its liquid state is very hot and may cause severe burns. It may also catch fire.
- Turpentine is poisonous if swallowed. or inhaled intensely over a period of time.
- Always use caution when working with fire.
- Paraffin wax is incredibly hard to remove from a pan. Use an old pan/double boiler or purchase one second-hand for this purpose. Alternately, use an old coffee can or #10 tin can set in a pot of water. Paraffin Wax is also highly reactive in the presence of introduced water droplets.
- Nail polish (and wax) can stain fabric and surfaces, so it is a good idea to cover your work surface in newspaper. Nail Polish is also highly flammable. Nail Polish is also a known carcinogenic substance.
- Sturdy wooden matches (preferably the strike-anywhere sort)
- Candles, Paraffin Wax, Nail Polish or Turpentine.
- A saucepan or double boiler
- Tongs or fork to dip matches into wax
- Newspaper or other table covering
- Small glass tumbler.
- Fire extinguisher or fire rug.
- Life insurance.
Not being able to start a fire is not only frustating, it’s also life threatening. Fire is the key to survive in the wildnerness, in case of emergency and even in everyday situations when normality won’t come back again. It provides lights, warmth, protection against predators and heat for cooking.
Waterproof matches are really useful and essential for survival. But you can’t rely on matches alone. You need to know at least 3 different ways to start a fire !
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