What’s happening when a match is lit? From Answers.com:
Matches contain sulfur, glass powder, and an oxidizing agent as the components in the match head. When you strike a match, the friction due to the particles of glass powder rubbing together generates enough heat to convert some of the red phosphorous to white phosphorous, which burns in the presence of oxygen gas. The heat from the friction also causes the oxidizing agent to produce oxygen gas, igniting the small amount of white phosphorous. Once ignited, the oxygen gas fuels the flame while the rest of the sulfur catches on fire. Of course, this entire process happens in a fraction of a second.
…unless, of course, someone films it at 4000 frames per second, and then you really get to spend time with all of the macro, slow-motion details. Fascinating to watch, and a great conversation starter about fire prevention and safety tips, and using matches as tools.
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