Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Cheap Way To Make Waterproof Matches For Disaster Preparedness

Fire is Essential for many emergencies. Cigarette lighters and matches may not be available for some emergencies. Floods are a common disaster where you would want a fire to purify water, cook, and get warm. That is a disaster that will be likely to leave your matches too wet to start a fire and probably the same for your cigarette lighter.

You can easily make your own waterproof matches for your disaster preparedness. You will need a few things to make your waterproof matches:

Wooden strike anywhere matches.


A container to melt the paraffin in. (I like a tin can because it is almost impossible to get paraffin off of things.)

Heat source for melting and keeping the paraffin                         liquid while you work with it. (I like the tea light candle holder for this purpose.)

A waterproof container to store the waterproof matches (It needs to be a little deeper than your matches and corrugated cardboard.)

Strips of corrugated cardboard that the bottoms of the matches will fit into (optional)

Something to cover your clothing to protect it from paraffin, that does not need to be dried in the dryer

A stick or other item that can be disposable to stir the paraffin with
Assemble all of your items listed above. 

Put on your clothing protection. This is important because once you get paraffin on something, it is unsafe to put that item in the dryer ever again. It can catch fire or even explode.

Cut or shave the paraffin into the melting and warming container. The smaller the pieces of paraffin the faster and more evenly it will melt. You do not need much paraffin to cover a lot of match heads. You can always put out your fire and shave more paraffin into your melting container if you run out. 

Stir the paraffin until all of it is melted. Pick up a match and dip the head into the liquid paraffin. Place the match bottom into a segment of the corrugated cardboard strip. If you are not using the corrugated cardboard strip, you can place the matches along the edges of a table on pieces of paper to dry. Repeat the process until you are satisfied with the number of waterproof matches you have created.

I like the strips of corrugated cardboard because they not only make handy holders for the matches while they dry, but are good for storage. It is not as good for your go bag because it is extra weight. You can use it to start fires too, though.

I saved some face cream containers with screw-on lids to use for my waterproof matches. Coil the strips of corrugated cardboard with the matches and place them into the face cream container. Close the lid securely and you now have a waterproof container full of waterproof matches.

When you need to start a fire with your waterproof matches, scratch wax off the ignition tip of the matches. Save the wax to use to help start a fire going. It burns well. After you have your fire area cleared (preferably using some kind of rocket stove,) put your kindling, tinder and fuel nearby where you can reach them quickly and easily, but they will not ignite until you are ready for them. Strike your match on a hard, rough, dry surface. I have seen people strike a match on their bluejeans where they were stretched taut. I don't recommend this, however, if you have other choices. The bottom of a leather shoe, a rock, or cement, are possible choices.

Apply the burning match to your tinder, including the scratched off wax on top of it, until it lights. When enough of your tinder is lit, you can add kindling and once that is going well, at last you can put on regular fuel like larger wood pieces.

I will post more about fire starting including links to videos about it. There are other easy ways to start fires and you may prefer something other than the waterproof matches. Some of the simpler ones involve batteries and that can give off unpleasant and dangerous fumes, however. I like the waterproof matches better. The disadvantage of waterproof matches is that there is a finite number of fires they can create. Some other fire starting methods do not have that limitation.

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