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The History of Safety Matches


During ancient times, human beings utilized regulated fire to make partial changes to the environment they lived in. This happened for a very long period of time; numerous millenniums prior to the invention of different means to create fire chemically. Long before history record begun, humans in distinctive areas of the world gained knowledge of creating fire through friction. This happened when they rubbed two pieces of wood together.

After some time, they later discovered that fire could be created through steel and flint and this proved to be easier than friction. However, in the year 1680, the world was rescued from its fire creation struggle and ignorance by an Englishman by the name f Robert Boyle. He did this by discovering that Sulfur and Phosphorous would effortlessly burst into flames if rubbed together instantly. This brilliant and life changing invention by Robert uncovered the principal which expedited the development of the modern match.

Robert Boyle was convinced that the resultant flames that resulted from rubbing Phosphorous and Sulfur were never because of friction, but because of the inherent nature of the elements and he was right. As a result of this scientific development by Robert Boyle, the nineteenth century commenced with the establishment of various fire starting devices chemically made in Europe. There are those who used Boyle’s knowledge of sulfur/phosphorous combination to create the devices, while others used hydrogen in its gaseous state. However, these developments in the 19th century were treacherous and complex making them unreliable.

Due to these undependable invented devices that were developed, more scientists kept trying to solve the danger menace throughout the nineteenth century. This is the century that recorded numerous though hazardous match inventions. In the year 1827, John Walker, an English pharmacist introduced his ‘sulphuretted peroxide strikables’. These were huge, yard-long sticks which can be termed as the primitive match. Actually, these sticks that he introduced are actually the precursor of the modern match. In the year 1832, tiny phosphorous matches were sold in Germany for the first time. However, these small matches carried potential danger, which made them dangerous. Four years later, in the year 1836, Alonzo D. Philips from Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States earned a manufacturing of friction matches patent. He called these matches locofocos and yet even after his invention, he did not manage to solve the danger issue.

This challenge continued up to the time amorphous or the red phosphorous was invented in the year 1845. This was a great invention by Carl Lundstrom of Sweden who discovered the first amorphous phosphorous safety matches, which he introduced in the market in the year 1855.