View Full Version : Sulphur matches?
I have had a search here and not found what I am looking for. Has anyone experience of making sulphur matches and if so how did you do it?
I was planning to use pine resin and mix in sulphur powder (flowers of suphur), but open to suggestions and help from others.
I've not made sulpher matches before, but I would just say (and apologies if I'm teaching granny to suck eggs) that sulpher is toxic by absorbtion through the skin, so make sure you take care handling it.
I usually make them from thin splints of wood sharpened to a point. I then dip them or just the ends in molten sulphur. I melt the sulphur over a gas stove, outside in a tobacco tin but switch the gas off when the sulphur has melted or just before, if it is heated for too long the sulphur will burn (cover with lid switch off gas) so I try to keep the heat down and the quantity small, no more than a level table spoon. Sulphur is available as sulphur or sulphur candle fron garden shops. I first saw/heard about sulphur matches from a display and postcard in the British museum they were more like lollipop sticks with a bluntly pointed end rather than a rounded end. The picture surfaced last year but I don't know where it is now and havn't got a digi-cam to post here anyway.
I use them to demonstrate fire from flint and steel- once you have a glowing ember on the charcloth just touch the end of a sulphur match to it and within a few seconds you will have a blue flame. It saves all that huffing and puffing into a tinder bundle to get a flame.
My chemical dictionary says HAZARD FROM FIRE AND EXPLOSION OF FINE POWDER not from absorbtion however the sulphur dioxide from the burning sulphur is TOXIC BY INHALATION AND IRRITANT TO EYES AND MUCOUS MEMBRANES, I think you will react violently enough with one whiff not to take a dangerous dose.
Once burning it seems to burn very hot SO BE VERY CAREFULL.
I don't expect there is much interested here as it hasn't been shown on the pukey.
Kimboko beat me to it really, I would just add that some nice resinous pine is just the job for the matchsticks.
Split it down until they are about the width of normal matches then shave the ends to a fine point before dipping.
I usually point and dip both ends then you can get two lights from one stick.
Normally I use linen tow to get a flame (http://www.lore-and-saga.co.uk/html/firelighting_with_flint_and_st .html) but sulphur matches are easier to light a candle with.
Beware : Sulphur fumes can trigger an asthmatic attack if you are the least bit prone to them. :eek:
Thanks guys. Reflecting back on some of the obnoxious things I did in A level chemistry many years ago, I do recall molten sulphur now. In any event I'll give it ago when I get the chance and perhaps post some pics. As has been said, it may save the fiddly bit of huffing and puffing to get from ember to a flame.
Not really much to add to this other than there was a woman on radio 4 (I must be getting older to listen to that instead of radio 1) the other day that was living as she would have in the 18 century.
She was talking about using sulphur matches to light from an ember also.
To be honest, if I was going to all the bother of buying sulphur I think I would just buy matches instead.
She also mentioned about rotten wood punk as well but I didn't hear much after that cos the diggers started up at work and it got too noisy :rolleyes: