3 Ways to Light a Match

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3 Ways to Light a Match
3 Ways to Light a Match

When it comes to making a fire, matchsticks are one of the best and oldest options available. In Brazil, with few exceptions, matchsticks do not contain the phosphorus element itself, which is in the sandpaper box; the friction of the toothpick head causes the flame to ignite. As simple and safe as it is to light a toothpick, there are a few different techniques that can be useful if you come across a different toothpick. Once you've mastered the basics, you can learn a few tricks on how to light matchsticks that contain matches on different surfaces to impress others.


Method 1 of 3: Learning the Basics

If you already know how to light a regular match and want to learn some tricks, click here.

Lighting a wooden toothpick

Light to Match Step 1

Step 1. Firmly grasp the toothpick

Use your index finger and thumb to hold the toothpick securely. If you need support, wrap his base between your other fingers.

If it's your first time lighting a toothpick, use the standard type, which only works when scraped against the box sandpaper, as it's usually easier to light for beginners. Once you're more confident with your skills, head for paper matches and toothpicks that can be lit on any surface

Step 2. Press the toothpick head against the box

The sides of the toothpick cases usually have a rough red or brown band, which is used to ignite the head. Hold the box firmly and press the colored toothpick head against the sandpaper.

Step 3. Scrape the toothpick against the sandpaper

Without releasing the pressure, slide the head from one side of the sandpaper to the other with a quick and precise movement, as if you wanted to rub the head of the toothpick all at once. If you do everything right, the toothpick will light up. Be careful not to get scared!

The amount of pressure needed will depend on the type of toothpick and box. A little care needs to be taken: pressing too hard will break the toothpick, while pressing too little will not light it. With a few tries you'll definitely get the hang of it

Step 4. Try again as many times as necessary

The toothpick will not always light up on the first try, but there is no reason to be ashamed. Repeat the movement until you manage to light the toothpick, varying the pressure as needed. If the first toothpick broke, apply a little less pressure. If you didn't light the toothpick but didn't break it, try putting a little more force into the movement.

After a few failed attempts, the flammable material on the toothpick will disintegrate, making it useless. Turn the side of your head and try again

Step 5. Hold the lit toothpick away from the box

When you manage to light the toothpick, it will smoke and flame quickly. Now, take it by the base, so as not to burn your fingers and use the toothpick to light what you want to light. Move it away from the box so you don't accidentally set it on fire. Congratulations! You've just lit your first matchstick.

Do you want to learn how to hold your toothpick better, to make the most of it and avoid burns? Click here

Lighting a paper stick

Light to Match Step 6

Step 1. Take a single toothpick out of the box

Paper sticks usually come in cardboard "booklets"; open it to find several paper sticks stuck to the base of it. To light one of the toothpicks, pick it up, bend it away from the others and pluck it from the base.

Lighting the paper sticks is a little more difficult, but it takes a little practice to get the hang of it. Don't worry if you have to experiment with several different methods until you can light a toothpick

Step 2. Hold the toothpick against the sandpaper in the box

There are several methods for lighting paper sticks; the simplest is slightly different from the method used to light wooden sticks. Leave the toothpick on the sandpaper, usually a colored strip on the back of the box. The head of the toothpick should be in the center of the sandpaper, with the base of the toothpick out of the box.

Step 3. Fold the paper flap of the box over the toothpick

Without touching the toothpick, fold the "cover" of the booklet back over the sandpaper. Now only the base of the paper stick should be visible. Try to find the toothpick head using touch; catch it with light pressure, pinning it between the sandpaper and the box flap with your index finger and thumb.

Cover the toothpick head tightly. If it's exposed when you pull the toothpick, you could get burned

Step 4. Squeeze and pull

Use one hand to hold the box firmly, pressing against the toothpick head. With the other hand, grasp the base of the toothpick and pull it out in a single movement. If done correctly, the friction between the sandpaper and the head should cause ignition.

  • As with wooden toothpicks, even if you do everything right, the toothpick may not light up. Repeat the above Steps a few times and if you still can't, turn the toothpick to scratch the opposite side of the head.
  • Be careful not to tear the toothpick head off using too much force, or you will make it useless.

Step 5. Try lighting the toothpick without folding the booklet

It is possible to light it without having to squeeze it between the paper and the sandpaper, but be aware that the process is a little more complicated for beginners. Although faster, you are more at risk of getting burned. To try the method:

  • Hold the toothpick in your dominant hand, using your thumb and middle finger. Place your index finger behind the toothpick head and hold the box with your other hand.
  • Apply pressure with your index finger and drag the toothpick over the sandpaper, making a single movement, as you would with a wooden toothpick.
  • Remove the forefinger from the top of the toothpick as soon as it lights up or transfer the toothpick to the other hand. Be quick not to burn yourself.

Method 2 of 3: Learning Some Tricks

Light to Match Step 11

Step 1. For best results, use matchsticks that actually contain match in the head

Such products do not need to be lit in the box - just enough friction against any dry surface to heat the head and ignite the flame. Since the match is usually found in the sandpaper in the box, the tips below may not work with any toothpick.

  • There is usually an indication on the box that the toothpick can be lit on any surface. The boxes of these toothpicks are not usually more expensive than the normal ones.
  • The toothpicks will only work on dry surfaces.
Light to Match Step 12

Step 2. Light the toothpick on a stone

This is a good option for campers and people who want to improve survival skills. For best results, look for a dry, flat stone with a slightly roughened surface. Its texture should be similar to concrete. In the absence of a dry stone, find a suitable wet stone and dry it.

Hold the toothpick between your middle finger and thumb, pressing it against the stone with your index finger. The technique is similar to that of a paper stick without bending the flap of the box. The rougher the surface, the less pressure must be exerted to achieve the required flame friction

Light to Match Step 13

Step 3. Light the toothpick on rough surfaces

If you're still in civilization but don't have a matchstick box, you can use a variety of materials to make fire. Scrape the toothpick as you would the stone, using the appropriate pressure for each material. For the technique to work, the surface must be completely dry. Some materials that might work:

  • Concrete.
  • Grout between tiles.
  • Bricks.
  • Ceramics.
  • Remember that the toothpick can leave a slight mark on the surface; try not to use the toothpick on other people's objects.
Light to Match Step 14

Step 4. Light the toothpick with sandpaper

This is an excellent option when you don't have a box to light a match in a workshop or garage. Fine-finish sandpaper works best - those that are too coarse can remove the toothpick head without lighting it. Place a small strip of sandpaper on a flat surface, press the toothpick head against it and drag it as you normally would.

Never light the toothpick near dry wood chips (very common objects close to where a sandpaper would be used). It is a highly flammable material

Light a Match Step 15

Step 5. Light the toothpick on a zipper

A fun option that can be used to impress others, as long as you are careful not to hurt anyone. Unfold the pants to expose the zipper. Stretch the fabric with one hand so the zipper is as straight and flat as possible. Hold the toothpick with your other hand and press it against the top of the zipper. Do a downward movement with light pressure - it may take a while to get the pressure and speed right, so don't give up on the first few tries.

  • Ever take the toothpick down, not up. That way, if you lose control of him, the fire will fall to the ground, not your shirt.
  • Only try to light a match if you are wearing pants made of firm, thick material that have little chance of catching fire, as is the case with jeans and serge. Do not try to light a match if you are wearing shorts or an open shoe.
Light to Match Step 16

Step 6. Light the toothpick in a window

Believe it or not: the smooth glass in the windows is also capable of lighting matchsticks. You'll need a lot of pressure to succeed, so place your index finger behind the match head to put a little more force on the match. Press his head against the glass and scrape him down in one quick, pressured motion. Take your finger away from the toothpick as soon as it lights up so you don't burn yourself.

The process can leave a streak on the glass, so don't do this in a place where marks can be seen. It is possible to clean the marks, but it is better not to take any risks

Light a Match Step 17

Step 7. If you like a challenge, light the toothpick in your teeth

The trick will certainly attract the attention of others, but you need to be aware of the fact that you can hurt yourself and those around you. Dry the surface of your teeth with a clean cloth or paper towel. Place the match head against your teeth and scrape over them with good pressure. Take the toothpick away from your mouth immediately, even if you think you couldn't light it. Rinse your mouth with water when finished.

  • A variation on the trick: place the toothpick behind your front teeth and pull it down and forward.
  • It takes great care to be successful safely. It is quite possible that you will end up burning your mouth and lips. Do not repeat the procedure too often, as the effects of the chemical substances in the toothpick on teeth are not very well known.

Method 3 of 3: Holding the lit toothpick securely

Step 1. Slightly tilt the toothpick down to keep the flame burning

Fire always burns best when it goes up, even on the small scale of matchsticks. Therefore, holding the lit toothpick pointing downwards will allow it to rise a little while consuming the wood.

You will keep the flame burning without it reaching your fingers too quickly. If you need more time, adjust the toothpick angle to slow down the burn rate

Step 2. To increase the flame, tilt the toothpick down a little more

Tilt it down for a second to instantly increase the flame. The fire will rise quickly, also increasing the temperature and approaching your fingertips. Be careful!

Do not point the toothpick straight down as this will cause the flame to rise to your fingers

Step 3. To keep the flame small, hold the toothpick up

The position will make it difficult to consume the flammable materials in the toothpick head, causing the flame to burn slowly. In time, it will reach the end of the toothpick or it will go out on its own.

Step 4. Remember the wind

Even a light breeze can erase the toothpick outdoors, wasting it. Head to a place with no wind or wait for its strength to fade before trying to light a match.

If you need to light a match in the wind, protect the flame by placing yourself between the toothpick and the wind


  • In addition to the above tricks, you can light a toothpick by holding it over a burning flame, whether from a stove, a fire, or another toothpick.
  • When using large matchsticks, hold them about two fingers away from your head so you don't break them in half when lighting them.


  • Never light a match near flammable materials such as fuel, chemical solvents, sticks, etc.
  • Always strike the match away from your body and down so you don't burn yourself.
  • The sticks remain hot even after the flame has ended. After using a toothpick, place it under running water to prevent it from lighting up.
  • Observe your surroundings when lighting a match. Do not place fire near children, pets, and objects that could burn.
  • Do not let children play or handle matchsticks.

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