The Birth of the Friction Match

In 1781 a man who made one of the most accidental discoveries in the history of the world was born. John Walker is the man who invented the match, even though he did not set out to. During the early 1800s John Walker was a scientist working in a lab attempting to create a lighting component. He was mixing the chemicals with a wooden spoon. When he was finished he went to rub the excess chemicals off of the spoon. At this moment, the friction cause a spark and the first match was born. His partner in the laboratory, Samuel Jones, then went on to create the brand “Lucifers.” Lucifers were sold in London and most commonly used to smoke tobacco.

The History of The Match

The original match was created out of antimony sulfide, potassium chloride, gum, and starch. John Walker was not able to make a large sum of money off of his invention. The independently wealthy scientist refused to patent what he had created. Without a patent, any individual was left free to recreate Walker’s invention, creating a wealth of competition. Isaac Holden tried to take credit for Walker’s invention. Holden made his idea public in October 1829, about two and a half years Walker took his invention public.

Throughout the years, matches have changed quite a bit. The original chemical components were antimony sulfide, potassium chloride, gum, and starch. Since then, Isaac Holden’s version were sulphur based, Charles Sauria’s version of matches were white phosphorous-based. Sauria’s version came to an end when white phosphorus was banned for toxicity. Today’s current matches are composed of phosphorous and with potassium chlorate. The reaction occurs when the match is struck against a rough surface in order to generate friction. Today, there are also “strike-anywhere matches”. Strike-anywhere matches have an added amount of powdered glass which cause friction against multiple surfaces.

Fire Prevention

Fire is not something you want to play with. Matches, if left unattended or treated with careless behavior, can turn a small fire on a wood stick into a massive blazing fire that puts people’s lives in danger. When you are dealing with fire, it is important to follow standard safety procedures and make sure the flame is completely out if the fire is left unattended.