This project is possibly the best fun you can have with any matchstick experiment – the mini matchstick mortar. What makes this project even better is the sheer simplicity and speed you can make them. The material list is simple, you will require some household matches and a small off-cut of kitchen foil, that’s it! You can make a matchstick mortar in 20 seconds or less that can launch up to 30 feet and over with a really loud satisfying crack as they go off. Whoever I have shown these mini match mortars to over the years, either young or the young at heart, they have been shocked at how good they are.
Matchstick mortar plans
Download the Free PDF above.
Best matches & Kitchen foil
I tried various matches and they all had fairly good results, but the best distances and loudest bangs seemed to be created by strike anywhere matches rather than safety, or strike on box matches. Kitchen foil or aluminium cooking foil quality was also quite forgiving, but the bigger flight distances were more consistent with better quality foil. These results are exactly the same as experienced in my ultimate match rocket project, but not quite so critical.
Long distance match mortar
To build the best matchstick mortar and obtain maximum distance, power and speed, you will have to experiment with how tight you roll the foil over the match head, slight crimping can be made just under the head of the match with fingernails after the build to tighten things up if you find this works better. I found this to be a delicate balancing act of too much or too little pressure, also balanced with the type of match and how far the foil overlaps the head and onto the wood of the stick itself. Experimentation is key.
Louder bangs more fun
If you want to spice things up a bit further try placing a children’s paper cap or plastic ring cap onto the very head of the match as you roll it. This may be a slight faff but very loud bangs can be created (warning this may leave you with ringing ears so be careful indoors). When using a plastic ring cap cut from a ring of caps you may need to trim some spare plastic from the bottom so when the match head is shoved in, it sits like a small hat and exposes the sides of the striking element of the match so it can be ignited through the foil. If you find any way to improve these, or just enjoy making them, why not post some pictures or a video on my Facebook page.
The above project is for consenting adults only and is for education and entertainment only.
Although these mini matchbox mortars are relatively safe to build, they may blow out hot or flaming particles of light match debris, and although I have never been burnt, it is a possibility that it could happen. These hot particles are definitely a hazard to anything flammable inside or outside the home, think carpets, furnishings and dry grass etc. On occasion you may also get a match mortar explode, this can shoot out aluminum foil and particles that could hit your eyes, so eye protection should be worn. Finally it should be noted that the aluminium foil casings are hot when they land, and they may damage delicate surfaces or soft furnishings.