Whether preparing for a camping trip or simply stocking your emergency kit, a good supply of fire starting materials is part of a crucial foundation for outdoor living and survival. Some choose mag sticks, windproof lighters, and even tinder that lights when wet, but you can’t go wrong with a package of waterproof matches.
Ordinary matches can absorb moisture from the air over time, which can render the match head useless. Waterproof matches have been specially treated to keep the match head fresh and flammable, even if exposed to wet conditions. They can be bought easily at any camping supply store, but you can even more easily prepare your own at home that will work just as well.
- Use wooden matchsticks, which are sturdier, preferably new matchsticks that haven’t been exposed to humidity.
- Prepare your work area by spreading out some newspaper or waxed paper to catch any drips from the waterproofing materials.
- Make sure that you have an airtight container ready to store your freshly made waterproof matches. This can be a film canister, an old prescription bottle, or any container with a tight-fitting lid.
Clear nail polish is another highly flammable substance that acts much like amber over the match head, solidifying over any surface it touches and keeping its contents free from contamination.
- Dip the match, just past the head, into clear nail polish, right into the bottle.
- If you have a sponge or other material that you can stick the match in to dry upright, this would be ideal. Otherwise, your paper will suffice.
- Allow to dry thoroughly before placing in your watertight container.
Turpentine is an item that many family homes will have tucked away in a garage or shed, and in addition to being a terrific waterproofing agent, it is highly flammable.
- In a glass container, soak the heads of the matches in turpentine.
- Remove them after 5 minutes, and spread them out on the paper to dry for at least 20 minutes.
- Once they are dry, store them in a waterproof container. These will keep for several months.
Note: Do not drink from any container that held turpentine.
Matches can also be made waterproof by using hot candle wax. This method is perhaps the most efficient, since you probably have at least one used candle laying around the house. If you can no longer light the wick, you can melt chunks of the candle using a double boiling method.
- Light a candle and let it burn until there is an ample pool of hot wax, and then extinguish the flame.
- Dip the matches, again just past the head, into the melted wax and let drip. You can complete this step twice if it looks too thin.
- Dry upright in a spongy material or flat on your paper.
- Before completely cool, pinch closed the soft wax around the matchstick. When completely hardened, store in your container of choice.