Striking a match?

So, I got to thinking tonight, how do you strike a match on your thumb?

This line of thought was actually started a few months ago, when I watched El Mariachi, and the bad guy, Moco, tended to strike matches using his main henchman’s face whenever he needed a cigarette. After some experimentation, I figured out the best surfaces for striking matches in my house are the doorframes, painted walls, and the bathroom cabinet. (Well, the matchbox too, but who uses those, anyways?)

So, back to the topic, any suggestions on the best way to strike a match using your thumb and/or a nearby henchman?

Well, there are two classes of matches: the strike-anywhere ones with a white or yellow tip and safety matches which have solid red heads. What ignites a match is the phosphorus; what makes it burn is a combination of ingredients but particularly sulfur.

The head of the strike-anywhere match has phosphorus; on the safety match, it’s in the striking strip on the matchbox or matchbook, which I believe also contains some sort of abrasive to produce the friction that does the mechanical element of the igniting.

Well, the matches in question are strike-anywhere, obviously, or else they wouldn’t strike on my bathroom wall, right? :dubious:

I used to strike matches on my thumbnail; you run the match along the edge of the nail. with a little practice, it is rather easy, and you can do it one handed; hold it by curling your fingers around the stick, and quickly slide the edge of your thumbnail across the white part. You can also strike them on your teeth, by starting with it behind your front tooth - hold it so the white tip is touching the edge of the tooth, and flick it quickly to the front side of the tooth. The latter technique can give you a nice little blob of flaming phosphorous in the back of the throat or somewhere else in your mouth, so I can’t really recommend it. In fact, I don’t really recommend lighting them on your thumbnail either - just use a zippo.

Whadya know, you CAN light a match with a Zippo lighter!
Kinda defeats the purpose of the match though… scratches head

Believe it or not, you can also light a match with another match. :cool:

And from personal experience, don’t use too much force with your thumb if you use the thumbnail technique. Getting that same flaming blob of phosphorous stuck under the nail isn’t a whole lot better than swallowing it.

In the UK the strike-anywhere matches have red heads (Swan brand) while the safety matches have brown heads.

It’s not as hard as it looks- just practice until you get the feel for it.

I used my thumb nail about three quarters of the white tip away from me, and “flicked” my nail across the top towards myself. Fingernail biters cannot do this.

Another fun “strike anywhere” trick is to paint the red part of the match and some of the wooden stem with india ink to make the match look used. Don’t paint the “strike anywhere” part. The you can pull a “used” looking match out of the ashtray and “restrike” it. Your friends may well attempt to strike all your used matches. You can throw them a bone by leaving the occasional trick one lying around.

Or you can hold the stem of the match with four closed fingers, the head sticking out and reachable with your thumb. Put your thumbnail at the bottom edge of the striking mixture, and pull it down like you’re flipping a tiddlywink. There’s a sweet spot. Get it right, and the match will ignite with a satisfying crack. Do it wrong, and it either won’t light, or you’ll impact a ball of flaming chemicals under your fingernail.

A couple of years ago we had a box of matches sitting on top of our refrigerator. When my son closed the fridge door, the box of matches fell off and ignited when it hit the floor. Gave a whole new meaning to “strike anywhere.”

Yep, strike anywheres can be dangerous. In fact, when I was looking for them recently I found that very few places in my area carry them. I like to light them on my zipper. :smiley:

We played with them a lot when we were kids, but I haven’t seen them in probably close to a decade (and I’ve looked. Extensively.) A lot of people have told me they quit making them (I don’t know who “they” is but could it be true that their sale was banned in my state?)

Whenever we would get a box of strike anywhere matches, we loved to test that “anywhere” theory. Repeatedly. We would strike them on our teeth, our thumbs, our jeans, our arms, our toes, our friends’ heads, etc.

We tried the thing once where you cut the heads off of a few hundred and fill a tennis ball with them, but it was prettty underwhelming. When it bounced, it just looked like a tennis ball with a little flame coming out of it for a few seconds.