Matches are one of the oldest and most reliable tools when it comes to lighting. It uses the heat generated by rubbing a rough ignition surface to ignite a small amount of flammable fuel. While it is generally easier and safer to light a match with a match, if you come across an unfamiliar type of match, it may be useful to know a few different ways to light it.
Grip the middle of the matchstick tightly. Use your index finger and thumb to pinch the approximate midpoint of the matchstick. If necessary, press the bottom of the matchstick with your other fingers for more stability.
If this is your first time trying to light a match, you'd better start with a "strike box" wooden match - this is usually the easiest to light for beginners. Once you're familiar with the method, you can try paper matches and "swipe" matches.
Press the end of the match against the ignition surface. Find the red or brown rough sides of the matchbox. This side is called the "fire side". Hold the matchbox with the hand that isn't holding the match, and press the end of the match—the colored rounded end of the match against the burning surface, but don't strike the wooden match to either side yet.
Run the tip of the match quickly across the ignition surface. Without letting go, quickly strike the end of the match from one end of the ignition surface to the other. The movement has to be quick and forceful, like you want to wipe off the end of a match in one fell swoop.
As long as the operation is correct, the match head will ignite immediately, so don't panic! The amount of force required to light a wooden match will vary depending on the match and the firing surface.
If you use too much force, the match will break, and if you use too little force, the match will fail to ignite. The appropriate amount of force should be somewhere in between. After a few tries, you'll get the hang of it.
If necessary, try again. It is normal for a wooden match to fail to light the first time you try it. If you don't see a flame right away, don't worry, you can repeat the ignition again until you succeed. If you're concerned that you're going too light the first time, go harder.
After a few failed attempts, some of the match head will be wiped off. They are usually a mixture of potassium chloride and red phosphorus. If this happens, try rubbing the ignition surface with the other side of the match head.
Keep lit wooden matches away from matchboxes. You'll know right away when the match is lit successfully. Because the instant it is lit, it will smoke and burn.
At this time, it is best to pinch the bottom of the match to avoid burning your fingers from the flames, and then use the match for the desired purpose. You should put the matchbox somewhere else safe so you don't accidentally set it on fire.