How to light a match in the wind

Issue 2

A small box of matches may contain around forty matches so you may wonder what all the fuss is about. If one goes out before you've lit your tinder or whatever else you're trying to light then just try with another, then another, then another, then....oooooh! Before you know it you're down to your last match and a hot meal is looking like a distant dream. Think of each match as a stick of gold and make each one count. It is possible to buy wind resistant matches but if you don't have any to hand there is a good solution that doesn't involve lighting three or four together at the same time. This may give a good flame for a few seconds but will often then go out as the flame is not sufficiently intense to keep the mass of match stick stems alight. The solution is to turn your matchstick into a fuzz match.

You will need a penknife / small sharp knife. Hold the match by the non-head end vertically down with the head resting on a solid surface. With your other hand slice downwards into the matchstick on the four corners, starting just above the head. Work around and halfway up the stick until you have what looks like a mini palm tree leaf. Now when you strike the match the flame will quickly burn the shavings and give a much brighter flame.

Top tips for lighting matches

1. Strike the match away from your body. (For some reason this is something that females instinctively do more than males.) This is because small molten balls of phosphorus sometimes fly from the head.

2. Once lit, point the lit end down so that the flame can climb up the stick as fire burns up. It will burn too quickly if vertical (although you will get a great flame for a short while) and could easily burn you while holding the head up will usually lead to the flame going out so holding the match down at a forty-five degree angle is a good compromise.

3. If it's a windy day and you, unbelievably, don't have a sharp knife to hand then wait for the wind to die down. It tends to move in cycles and so even on quite blustery days there will often be breaks when you can light your match and keep it alight just long enough to light your tinder.

4. With a light wind shield the lit match with the cupped palm of your hand against the wind direction like a mini windbreak.

Do not...

...put a lit match in a box of unused matches. It will produce a load of smoke, go out quickly and waste the whole box. Good fun though.

Did you know?

Over 1,400 years ago the Chinese were using a type of match that comprised small twigs of pine that were impregnated with sulphur. It wasn't until 1805 that the first self-lighting match was invented. However they didn't take off as they had to be dipped into sulphuric acid to ignite. Friction safety matches were not mass-produced until the 1850s.

Now that you have used just one match to light your fire etc. you may be wondering what to do with the remaining thirty-nine...

Move two matches in each equation in the above photo to make the sums correct

Answer: 8 + 5 = 13 and 8 - 5 = 3


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