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Science & Technology

Why does matchstick light up when it is struck?

Did you know that striking a match causes a chemical reaction? A safety match can only light when someone strikes it against the striking surface on the side of the match box. A’ striking surface’ is made of send, powdered glass, and a chemical called ‘red phosphorus’.  The head of a safety match is made of sulfur, glass power, and an oxidizing agent. An oxidizing agent is necessary to keep a flame lit.

When a match is struck on the striking surface of its box, the friction caused by the glass power rubbing together produces enough heat to turn a very small amount of the red phosphorus into white phosphorus, which catches fire in air.

This small amount of heat is enough to start a chemical reaction that uses the oxidizing agent to produce oxygen gas. The heat and oxygen gas cause the sulfur to burst into flame, and the heat of the match then burns brightly.

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