How to make waterproof matches

These easy-to-make fire starters offer an all-in-one solution to starting a flame: ignition, accelerator and fuel in a single, handy, inexpensive package. To use, scrape the wax off the top and hit it with a rock. Each match will burn for five minutes or better.

What you need

  • Strike-anywhere matches
  • Paraffin wax
  • Cotton thread or thread
  • Straight pins
  • Aluminium paper


  1. Tie a top knot in the string at the base of the match head and wrap around the match shaft. Tuck the tag end of the yarn under the end wrap and pull snugly. Cut off excess thread.
  2. Melt the paraffin wax in a DIY double boiler. Choose an old pot that will nest in a larger pot. (A neat coffee can do the trick.) Fill the largest pot about half full with water and place it over medium heat on the stove. Place the wax in the smaller pot and place it in the larger pot. I pay close attention. Paraffin wax has a low flash point and can burst into flames when overheated. When completely melted, remove the configuration from the heat.
  3. Insert a straight pin into the non-striking end of a match and dip the entire match into the wax for a few seconds. Place on foil to harden. Dip each match several times to create a waterproof coating that doubles as fuel. After the last dip, remove the pin and press the wet wax to seal the hole.

This article was adapted from General handbook of field and stream camps.

Total Camps Handbook Cover

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