3 Types of Homemade Waterproof Matches Tested for Effectiveness


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waterproof matches infographicWell, this article is a bit of a strange one for me. Originally, my intention was to show you three different methods of how to waterproof matches but things don’t always turn out the way we intend them to.

I was quite excited to write this article and I actually took a bunch of photos to document exactly how you could make these three kinds of water proof matches.

I took the time to make three test batches so that I could figure out which method worked the best. It wasn’t until the testing phase that I realized that this article was about to take a drastic turn.

Read on and you’ll discover what I learned about the three methods that are commonly recommended on the Internet. I think you’ll be really surprised when you see what kind of results I got in my tests.

Three Varieties of Homemade Waterproof Matches

Let me just preface what I’m about to write by saying that I used strike-anywhere wooden matches for this experiment while making my DIY waterproof matches.

  • Method #1: I dipped the match head along with about 1/4″ of the stick into melted candle wax and then quickly blew air on the hot wax to help it dry as quickly as possible. My thought process was that if the wax dried quickly, it would be less likely to soak into the match head and cause problems when it came time to light them. I also waited until the wax was thoroughly dry before doing any testing.
  • Method #2: I painted some of the match heads with clear fingernail polish. It’s worth pointing out that, to be thorough, I painted some more with fingernail hardener. I carefully balanced them on the edge of my counter so that the coating would dry without it being rubbed off during the drying process. With both types of coatings, I made sure to wait until they were completely dry before I tested them.
  • Method #3: I cut a plastic drinking straw so that it was 1/2″ longer than the match. Then I inserted the match into the straw. Next, I held a pair of needle nose pliers on the burner of my oven long enough for them to get hot. Lastly, I made a watertight seal on each end of the straw by pinching the hot pliers on the ends of the straw for a few seconds. The end result was that each individual match was neatly sealed in a tiny plastic waterproof package.

Drumroll Please – The Results are In!

To be quite honest, I had high expectations for the wax coated matches because I thought that they would light and the wax would give them a little extra fuel and they would burn longer or maybe a bit hotter. For my first test, I tried lighting one while it was dry. I was quite surprised to see that the match did light but it fizzled out within about a second. This variety wouldn’t even stay lit long enough for the match stick to catch fire.

I wasn’t ready to give up on this version just yet so I had the idea to use my fingernail to scrape off all of the wax before I lit it. The results that I achieved by doing this were mixed. Some of the matches actually lit and continued to stay burning. Others lit and then quickly fizzled out. I can only assume that some of the wax must have soaked into the match head, rendering them useless. Because the results were so poor with this method, I didn’t bother testing them after they had gotten wet.

When I tested the matches that were coated in clear fingernail polish, I again got mixed results. Initially, I thought I had a winner with the matches that were coated in the nail hardener. The first few lit right away and actually stayed burning. Unfortunately, I only got about a 50% success rate with this method. About half of them lit right away and then quickly fizzled out.

Again, to be thorough, I dipped the tip of some matches in water since this experiment was all about about testing waterproof matches after all. I then wiped the tips of the matches dry and tried lighting them. My results were the same. Approximately half of them lit and stayed burning while the other half lit and then quickly burned out.

I was really disappointed with the matches that were coated in clear fingernail polish. All of them lit and fizzled out within one second. These were complete duds.

And the Winner Is…

As I expected, the matches that were sealed in the plastic straws performed flawlessly. All I had to do was use my pocket knife to cut one end off of the straws and then shake the match out. I also completely submerged several of these nifty little packages in a glass of water for several minutes before testing them. When I took them out of my little homemade packages, every one of them lit right away and stayed burning just like they should.

match in straw

What Are the Best Waterproof Matches?

In my test, the clear winners were the matches that I sealed in the plastic straws. If you want to make waterproof matches, I would suggest this method based on my testing.

If you choose to do this, be very careful and don’t forget that the pliers will be VERY HOT and burn yourself or start something else on fire. Consider yourself warned! If they are hot enough to melt the plastic, they are hot enough to burn you and/or start something on fire.

My Ultimate Recommendation

My personal favorite tool for starting a fire is a butane lighter. If you have the time, I suggest that you take a minute and read my article called A Candle Can Be the Best Firestarter in Your Kit.

Bonus Tip!

If you really feel the need to carry matches with you, I would probably suggest that you buy commercially waterproof match containermanufactured water proof matches instead of trying to make your own. That is, of course, unless you want to seal each match individually in a straw. As reported, my testing of matches packaged in this manner yielded very good results.

If you do decide to carry matches with you, you might consider storing them in an empty pill bottle. However, before you put all your eggs (or matches in this case) in one basket, I would advise testing the container to make sure that it is actually water tight. As an added precaution, you could always put some white Teflon tape on the threads of the bottle before you fill it and tighten the lid. This would just be a bit of extra insurance to limit the chances of your matches getting wet.

Share Your Thoughts and Ideas With Us

I love getting feedback from my readers. Have you ever made waterproof matches and if so, did you have similar results? Tell me all about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.

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