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How To Set Up A Safety Match Box Manufacturing Plant in Nigeria

A match is a tool for starting a fire. Typically, modern matches are made of small wooden sticks. There’s the wooden type, which are packaged in boxes. And there are paper matches, which are clustered in rows stapled into matchbooks.

A match is a small stick of wood or strip of cardboard with a solidified mixture of flammable chemicals deposited on one end. When that end is struck on a rough surface, the friction generates enough heat to ignite the chemicals and produce a small flame. Some matches, called strike-anywhere matches, may be ignited by striking them on any rough surface. Other matches, called safety matches, will ignite only when they are struck on a special rough surface containing certain chemicals.

Woods used to make matchsticks must be porous enough to absorb various chemicals, and rigid enough to withstand the bending forces encountered when the match is struck. They should also be straight-grained and easy to work, so that they may be readily cut into sticks. White pine and aspen are two common woods used for this purpose.

Once the matchsticks are formed, they are soaked in ammonium phosphate, which is a fire retardant. This prevents the stick from smoldering after the match has gone out. During manufacture, the striking ends of the matchsticks are dipped in hot paraffin wax. This provides a small amount of fuel to transfer the flame from the burning chemicals on the tip to the matchstick itself. Once the paraffin burns off, the ammonium phosphate in the matchstick prevents any further combustion.

The heads of strike-anywhere matches are composed of two parts, the tip and the base. The tip contains a mixture of phosphorus sesquisulfide and potassium chlorate. Phosphorus sesquisulfide is a highly reactive, non-toxic chemical used in place of white phosphorus. It is easily ignited by the heat of friction against a rough surface. The potassium chlorate supplies the oxygen needed for combustion.

The tip also contains powdered glass and other inert filler material to increase the friction and control the burning rate. Animal glue is used to bind the chemicals together, and a small amount of zinc oxide may be added to the tip to give it a whitish color. The base contains many of the same materials as the tip, but has a smaller amount of phosphorus sesquisulfide. It also contains sulfur, rosin, and a small amount of paraffin wax to sustain combustion. A water-soluble dye may be added to give the base a color such as red or blue.

The heads of safety matches are composed of a single part. They contain antimony trisulfide, potassium chlorate, sulfur, powdered glass, inert fillers, and animal glue. They may also include a water-soluble dye. Antimony trisulfide cannot be ignited by the heat of friction, even in the presence of an oxidizing agent like potassium chlorate, and it requires another source of ignition to start the combustion. That source of ignition comes from the striking surface, which is deposited on the side of the matchbox or on the back cover of the matchbook.

The striking surface contains red phosphorus, powdered glass, and an adhesive such as gum arabic or urea formaldehyde. When a safety match is rubbed against the striking surface, the friction generates enough heat to convert a trace of the red phosphorus into white phosphorus. This immediately reacts with the potassium chlorate in the match head to produce enough heat to ignite the antimony trisulfide and start the combustion.

Matches are manufactured in several stages. In the case of wooden-stick matches, the matchsticks are first cut, prepared, and moved to a storage area. When the matchsticks are needed, they are inserted into holes in a long perforated belt. The belt carries them through the rest of the process, where they are dipped into several chemical tanks, dried, and packaged in boxes. Cardboard-stick matches used in match books are processed in a similar manner.

The following are the raw materials needed for safety match production and their function.

– Straight grained wood, usually white pine or aspen.
– Ammonium phosphate and Paraffin wax for the treatment of wood.
– Antimony trisulfide and potassium chlorate for the match head.
– Powdered glass and other inert materials for better friction and burning rate.
– Animal glue for binding ingredients.
– Zinc oxide for coloring of the match head.
– Sulfur, rosin, small amount of paraffin wax and phosphorus sesquisulfide for the base of the match.
– Water-soluble dye for coloring of the base.
– Striking surface contains red phosphorus, powdered glass, and an adhesives (gum arabic or urea formaldehyde)
– Cardboard for match boxes and match books.

Safety matches are one of the important necessaries for human life. The need for safety matches cuts across restaurants, homes, industries, hotels etc.

Though Nigeria has a large, growing and sustainable market for safety match, most of the countries demand is met through importation and this is not good for local manufacturers. The decline of the match industry has claimed about 15,000 jobs from ancillary companies such as wood, paper, packing, labelling and transportation.

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