I’ve always wanted to build a giant match. In this project I set out to build the worlds largest fully strikeable match that a normal person can pick up easily, and strike to ignite. I did find other matches on YouTube but they were either so big they couldn’t be lifted, didn’t light very well, or were made from rocket candy, making them dangerous and not able to be lit without a flame, which seems like cheating to me. This is my build…
How to build a mega match
The first place to start was with the wood, and for full ease of use by one person I opted for Balsa wood. Balsa wood is not only very light making it ideal for easy handling, but it cuts and sands very fast. In fact it was so light I thought why not make a matchbox out of thin plywood, incorporate a coarse sandpaper striker and put two matches inside. Of course I could have used any standard dry timber instead.
The second thing we need of course is the match head. This was an easy choice as standard match heads, both safety, and traditional strike anywhere matches can be powdered then mixed with water to form a paste that still ignites when fully dry. There were a few snags to iron out though…
Giant matchstick head
After a few small(ish) scale tests here is what I found. Both safety matches and standard match heads can be removed, ground, mixed with water and then dried onto wooden sticks to form a working match. The safety matches in my test became painfully slow to ignite when the paste is applied too thickly, although at a thickness of about 1-2mm were fine. Making the striker for a very large box would have been a complete bind however, so this ruled them out for me because of my giant box idea.
Strike anywhere matches on the other hand suffer from another problem, the thicker you apply the paste the faster the reaction. In fact anything above 2mm virtually becomes a small scale explosive and dangerous, so again the goldilocks thickness in my tests proved to be between 1-2mm. If you watch my video where I strike both large matches you will see my first match that is closer to a 1mm thickness lights nice and slowly, the second match is closer to 2mm and ignites almost instantly. I estimate that my large matches contained around 1,500 powdered match heads each.
This is why I opted to shape my matchsticks and match heads in wood so they looked like a match first, then coat with a thin coat of paste.
Getting the matchstick to light
The last part of the puzzle was to have the match stick set alight. Small matches light easily because the wood is so small in comparison to the heat and flame. Very large matches on the other hand are like logs, even when made from a very light timber like Balsa. To overcome this I applied a light coating of alcohol and turpentine substitute to some of the matches as a test in the video, as it turned out the turps substitute proved to be the best.
Worlds largest matches
As of starting this project I could not find any other project that had very big, truely strikeable matches on YouTube. In the end I was happy with the end result, hope you like the project.
The above project is aimed at adults for education and entertainment purposes only, not to replicate. Anyone doing so takes full responsibility for their own actions.