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Matches igniting. Close-up of a set of matches igniting. Matches are made to ignite when their heads (red) are heated by friction. The tip of each match has a layer of the chemical phosphorous trisulphide, which burns at low temperatures. This in turn ignites the rest of the match head, usually made from paraffin and chemicals which support burning. Matches of this type were first made in 1827. Safety matches have the phosphorous trisulphide on a separate striking board on the box. This prevents them igniting by accident.
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