Finding The Best Survival Matches Because Not All Matches Are Created Equal
If a dog is man’s best friend, fire is surely his best survival tool.
According to archaeologists, we’ve been using fire for over a million years.
We cook with it, hunt with it, and stay warm on countless nights because of it.
There’s no telling where humanity would be today without the discovery of fire.
But it’s safe to say; our survival would have been much harder.
Today, fire remains and will always remain an essential survival resource.
Without it, things can get dark and cold quickly.
And there are few fire tools as time-tested as the match. They’re simple and effective.
But there are a lot of matches made by a lot of manufacturers and designed for different uses.
Yes, they all produce fire, but some are far more reliable for survival than others. So how does one choose?
The following guide goes over our favorite survival matches. And we’ll also share a few tips and tricks to make survival matches on your own.
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How Matches Work
Understanding how matches work is essential – especially if you’d like to try and make your own at some point.
Despite the simplicity of matches, there’s a lot of physics going on when you strike a match.
First, a match head and a striker strip are made of materials that react violently together.
The match heads comprise potassium chlorate, sulfur, and powdered glass.
The striker strips have sand, powdered glass, and red phosphorous in them.
When a match head runs along a striker strip, pressure and speed combine to create friction.
Friction is the resistance to one surface or object when moving over another. High friction is high resistance, and high resistance creates heat.
Friction is the heat generated when you rub your hands together quickly when cold.
In fact, a match strike creates enough friction to ignite the incendiary chemicals in the match head.
Those chemicals burn bright and fast. Hot enough to catch the matches’ wooden (or sometimes cardboard) “wick” on fire.
In the simplest terms:
- The striker strip provides the friction to ignite the match head
- The match head serves as an ignition to get the wooden wick beneath it
- The wooden wick burns slowly, extending the life of the match flame
For a more technical explanation of how matches work, check out this excellent video (with slow-motion match burn):
Some Matches are Better Than Others
Not all matches are created equal.
Cheap cardboard matches (those given away at your local liquor store) are far less effective than “strike anywhere” matches.
These cardboard matches are meant to light cigarettes and cigars or tossing into firepits. That isn’t to say they are useless for survival, but they are not nearly as effective.
They burn too fast and not as hot; they’re less durable and much more susceptible to water damage.
Even beyond the “strike anywhere” matches, better matches are made explicitly for survival.
These matches are called “stormproof” or “waterproof” matches because they’re water and wind-resistant.
The Best Survival Matches
When researching survival matches, a few options stand out from the rest. But they’re not always the first options to pop up on a google search.
Nor are they options that can be found in any outdoor or surplus store.
This is why we have compiled this list of a few of our favorite survival matches on the market.
The Everstryke is not your typical match; it’s better.
The Ferro rod is tipped with a steel bit. You strike it against a piece of flint built onto the outside of the container.
A cotton wick that fits snugly through the end of the Ferro rod, so it takes only one strike to get an extremely hot flame!
The strikes are measured at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. And the flame sustains an impressive 600 degrees.
When finished, screw the match rod back into place inside the container.
An O-ring built into the Ferro rod prevents fuel from evaporating when it’s screwed into place. And it also helps keep water out of the container.
This metal match easily fits inside a pants pocket or backpack pocket. It’s lightweight, reusable, durable, and generally the perfect addition to any survival pack.
The EverStryke Match is an excellent upgrade and investment to your survival gear.
More Stormproof Matches
While the above match is our favorite, it’s not the only survival match.
Here’s a short list of some of the other brand options you have when shopping for survival matches:
These are basic survival matches, but they do their job in a pinch!
The packs come with 25 matches per (50 total) and a useful flip-top plastic container to keep them dry and protected.
They’re also waterproof, windproof, and will light when wet.
This kit comes with 25 matches and a durable, windproof plastic container that can hold up to 40 matches simultaneously.
Plus, this kit includes three replaceable striker strips. The replaceable striker strips are the most useful feature of these matches.
Sometimes striker strips can get worn out after a lot of use, but that’s a non-issue with this survival match kit!
Once your striker strip is about to kick the bucket, just replace it, and you’re back in business.
The UCO Stormproof matches are also windproof and waterproof and will burn for up to 15 seconds. The case floats if you drop them in water.
Also included (as a bonus) is a small ball of cotton, which can be used as kindling for an emergency fire.
The Coghlan’s are affordable, reliable, and time-tested.
The Coghlan brand has been around for a long time and is a favorite among the outdoor community.
Hikers, backpackers, hunters, fishermen, and survivalists alike stand by Coghlan’s waterproof matches.
One of the biggest advantages of this brand is they’re affordable. You can buy them in bulk. But, these matches do not come with extras such as a waterproof container.
This “ultimate fire-starting kit” goes one step further than your typical survival match. It includes:
- one tin container (with a tactical band to hold everything together)
- 20 windproof, waterproof matches
- a waterproof container
- a waterproof striker strip
- two bags of magnesium chips
The mag chips are an extremely useful survival resource for lighting fires.
Magnesium lights easily and reaches temperatures of almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit. With a little pinch of magnesium, you can burn just about any material, whether wet or super dense.
Of course, this match kit takes up more space than the other match options, but the magnesium is worth the room it takes up.
You’ll be blown away by how quickly you can get a fire going with the stuff.
How to Make Stormproof Survival Matches
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Proverb
The same logic stands true for survival matches.
Buying stormproof matches is a step towards preparing yourself for a survival situation. But it only gets you what you buy.
If you buy 50, then you’ve got 50, and when you run out of them, your luck is likely running out too.
That’s why it is so important to understand how to make your own survival matches.
If you know how to make your own survival matches, you’ll always be able to re-stock them as needed. This is a valuable survival skill, and it’s easier than you might imagine.
There are several ways to do it:
Method 1: Using Wax to Waterproof Matches
Get your hands on a box of basic “strike anywhere” matches and a wax candle.
Simply light the candle and let the wax melt. Candles in jars are particularly useful for this since the melted wax can’t drip away or escape.
Once you have got a good pool of wax, dip the match heads into the wax. Place the matches on top of the box they came in, with the waxed heads hanging off so that they can dry evenly. That’s it!
This method is one of the simplest ways to waterproof your matches so they can be used even if they get wet.
But keep in mind: these are not weather-proof or windproof. This technique does little more than keep moisture off of the match head before use.
And in fact, you usually have to scrape the wax off of the tips before striking them to get them to light.
But in a wet survival scenario, this technique can be a lifesaver!
Method 2: Waterproofing Matches with Shellac
Like the wax method, you’ll need to buy some strike-anywhere matches and some shellac.
Place the matches, head-down, in a small container filled with shellac. Let them soak.
Once the matches are finished soaking, remove them, and place them on a sheet of newspaper to dry.
Allow the matches about 20 minutes to dry out before storing them in a container. Matches waterproofed with shellac will remain waterproof for several months.
The advantage of this method over the wax method is you don’t have to remove the terpene before striking.
They will ignite all on their own, given enough friction.
Method 3: Waterproofing Using Nail Polish
Say you don’t have any candles or terpene on hand, and you need matches STAT. One way to waterproof matches in a pinch is to use nail polish like wax or terpene.
Dip the head of your strike anywhere matches an eighth of an inch down into the nail polish.
Then let them dry out, with the head hanging off of a table or the matchbox.
Survival becomes a more difficult game without fire. Even crappy old matches are preferable to nothing.
That’s why it’s vital to pack waterproof survival matches with your survival gear. Even if you’ve got a survival lighter or a flint striker packed, double down and added some survival matches.
You never know when you’ll need them or what you’ll need them for.
Understanding how to make waterproof matches is also beneficial for survival knowledge.
Sure, having professionally made, expert-tested survival matches is a good thing. But you never know when you’ll be stuck in a cold, wet survival situation and must keep your matches dry.
Waterproofing matches is a simple process and one that could save your life someday.
No bug-out bag is complete without a supply of survival matches.
P.s. Are you ready for the tough times ahead?
Find out now by taking my short Readiness Score Quiz - it’s absolutely free. Once complete, you’ll know exactly where you stand on the “fragile” vs.” resilient” spectrum.
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