How Are Matches Made?


Quick Answer

Manufacturing matches has three main steps: cutting the matchsticks, treating the matchsticks and forming the match heads. The common woods typically used for matchsticks are white pine and aspen. In particular, aspen is used due to its soft but resilient nature and low flammability.

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Full Answer

The initial process in making matchsticks requires logs of wood to be debarked and, in several steps, cut into the small sticks that form the base of a match. These small sticks are soaked in ammonium phosphate, which acts as a fire retardant. After the sticks are dried, they undergo a polishing process to remove any splinters or rough edges. The sticks are then placed on a special conveyor belt called a VPO machine where they are organized and an assembly line is created for the final two steps in the match formation process. First, the line of matchsticks is covered in a layer of molten paraffin wax. This wax helps to ensure that the matches burn evenly and fully. The second step involves dipping the matchstick heads into a vat containing the chemical mixture that forms the head. At this point, the matches have been fully manufactured. All that remains is for the matches to dry before they are sent for packaging.

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