In the textbooks of the first decade of the 19th century, matches were regarded as the most remarkable invention that changed lives, which were compared with the steamship and the Jenny weaving machine.
From a chemical point of view, matches take advantage of the combustibility of phosphorus. In 1669, the German alchemist Hannig Brandt successfully separated the element phosphorus for the first time.
The safety match flashed with a weird green fire, which aroused people's great curiosity. Because phosphorus is very active and easy to react, it has never been found in the natural environment as an independent form, which is always in the form of the compound.
The first batch of matches made of phosphorus that entered the market were the "phosphorus candles" that went on sale in France in 1781. It is made of a small piece of paper impregnated with phosphorus, which is put into a glass bottle and sealed; when it is used on fire, the glass bottle is broken into pieces and spontaneously ignites immediately.
By 1827, chemists inadvertently found the concept of friction matches, and it is still in use today. However, the early phosphorous matches were very unsafe.
Later, the more stable red phosphorus replaced the dangerous white phosphorus as the material for making safety matches, and related tragedies were greatly reduced immediately.
In the match manufacturing industry, the transition from white phosphorus to red phosphorus has not been a smooth sailing. Many manufacturers refuse to use red phosphorus to produce matches due to the difficulty of processing red phosphorus and the high cost.
It was not until the 1890s that many countries formally declared white phosphorous matches as dangerous goods, and red phosphorous matches were truly popularized.
In fact, the public has long rejected white phosphorus matches because of the endless emergence of accidents caused by white phosphorus, including deaths caused by its toxicity.
The equivalent of 100 mg of white phosphorus can cause death. This 100 mg is exactly the standard content of white phosphorus for a box of matches produced in the 19th century. Therefore, people who fell into troubles during the Victorian era often committed suicide by swallowing the head of a match.
The safety match came out in 1855. The inventor is John Ludstrom of Sweden. The safety of the match invented by Ludstrom is because he carried out the chemical amputation for the material.
He did not add all the necessary combustible materials to the match head, but treated the red phosphorus separately, mixed it with glass powder and glue, and smeared it on the side wall of the match box.
When in use, take out a safety match and rub it on the side wall. The heat generated by the friction will convert the red phosphorus into white phosphorus, and the white phosphorus will burn immediately when it meets the air.
The heat of the white phosphorus combustion ignites the sulfur and antimony trisulfate in the match head, and at the same time releases the oxygen in the potassium chloride to support combustion, so the combustion process is extremely smooth and reliable.