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Chemical Reaction, Striking a Match

Chemical Reaction, Striking a Match

C036/3697

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Credit

RICHARD HUTCHINGS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RICHARD HUTCHINGS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Striking a match starts a chemical reaction. There are two types of matches: safety matches and strike anywhere matches. A safety match can only light when someone strikes it against the striking surface on the side of the match box. A strike anywhere match can be lit by striking the match on anything solid. A striking surface is made of sand, powdered glass, and a chemical called red phosphorus. The head of a safety match is made of sulphur, glass powder, and an oxidizing agent. An oxidizing agent is a chemical that takes electrons from another chemical. When a match is struck on the striking surface of its box, the friction caused by the glass powder rubbing together produces enough heat to turn a very small amount of the red phosphorus into white phosphorus, which catches fire in air. A strike anywhere match works in a similar way, but instead of phosphorus being on a striking surface, it is added to the head of the match. You can tell the difference between the two types of.

Release details

Model release not required. Property release not required.

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