Several commercial, residential and industrial products contain red phosphorous, including chemical mixtures, plastics, flame retardants, striker plates, incendiary shells, smoke bombs and tracer bullets. Red phosphorous is contained in fireworks and sparklers and sometimes in trace amounts in matches and candles. It is considered a volatile and reactive substance and is only added to products in controlled environments.
Red phosphorous is relatively toxic and flammable and is produced by heating white phosphorous to high temperatures. Red phosphorous is more stable than white phosphorous and is considered to be nontoxic in its pure form, which makes it more suitable than white phosphorous for adding to a larger variety of manufactured products.
Safety matches, or matchsticks, are common household items containing red phosphorous. This element is added to the striking panel on matchboxes, and a small amount is added to match tips too. It is then combined with a binding substance, such as polyvinyl alcohol and a sulfide filler, before being applied using a special printing method.
Red phosphorous is also used as a flame retardant in plastic products, such as polyamides, epoxy resins, rubbers and polyurethanes. Polyamides generally take the form of plastic spray cans and applicators. They are used to hold abrasive cleaners, adhesives, fabric coating and more.