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From: (Arno Hahma)
Subject: Re: friend makes c-4? true?
Organization: University of Turku
Date: Sat, 18 Feb 1995 12:56:27 GMT

In article <3i1p62$>,
 <> wrote:

>g'day all.  i've a friend who reckons he made c-4 out materials he found in 
>found in his garage, would this be true as i feel inclined to 
>disbeleive him.

It depends quite a lot on what he has in his garage. If I had a garage, it
is very likely I would have there all the materials needed to make
_real_ C4 and probably some ready C4, too. Until then, that couple of
kilograms is sitting in my kitchen cupboard ;>.

On the other hand, there is no point of making C4 yourself as it or
equivalent plastic explosive can be bought at any decent explosives

>oh, and while i'm here, how do you make match heads, i've always

Carefully ;). Possibilities are many. The simplest is to mix white
phosphorus and glue and dip the matches in that. That is not safe,

A better method is to make a mixture of potassium chlorate and antimony
sulphide and add some Elmers glue or equivalent and mix into a thick
paste. Then dip the match heads in that. 

Oxygen balance in the mixture should be kept slightly positive to aid
ignition of the match itself.  Also, some sodium hydrogen carbonate
should be mixed in to stabilize the mixture in storage and make it
safer on general.

Such matches will ignite on striking them hard against a rough surface
or even better, against safety match striking surface. I use the same
mixture to coat Bickford fuse ends for use in strike-and-throw fireworks
items or similar devices.

As a warning, the mixture is extremely friction sensitive. I managed to
have some 50 grams ignite in my hands in a plastic jug just by
carefully mixing a wet cake that had dried somewhat on the edges. It
made a very ugly spot on the floor, I didn't have time to throw the
fiercely burning mass into the sink or I had burned my hands badly;
can you count microseconds? I only managed to get my hands black all
over and burn my shoe soles while putting the fire out...


Subject: Re: Striker Anywhere Matches .... ?
From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Date: Mar 16 1997
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics

In article <01bc3217$203df820$1d621fc4@marc>, "MARC TROLLIP"
<> says:

>Could someone please tell me why the strike anywhere matches I bought in
>the USA in fact not strike anywhere , unless you really strike them hard ,
>and that ends up damaging the object you strike against. How do the do that
>match lighting thing with their thumb in the movies , is that for real , or
>just a special effect ?

Striking with the thumbnail is quite real and used to be
quite common with the macho set of the honky-tonk crowd.  

Matches are rather sensitive to moisture.  If they are dry, 
they should strike easily on most any moderately hard rough 
surface. Moist matches lack crispness and tend to smear.  
The experienced match aficionado can detect a slightly
damp match immediately by the mere feel of the stroke. 
Novices have to swear their way through several matches
leaving visible residue trails to figure out they are damp.

The more sedate honky-tonkers generally used the shoe sole
or the bottom of their jeans as a striker plate. The latter
procedure requires more skill and a callous disregard for
your clothing. This explains why gentlemen always lit a lady's 
cigarette.  When you're wearing a tight skirt it is difficult 
to remain demure while contorting to reach the sole of your 
shoe from a bar stool, and it is even worse to sashay around 
the pool table with damp match streaks on the butt of your 
polyester dress.

You should be able to strike a match by flicking it against 
the side of a second match head if it is in good condition. 
They will also strike if skillfully thrown at a concrete 
sidewalk -- or at least they did when I was a kid.  Of course 
I never played with matches, not even in clothespin guns :)

Jerry (Ico)

Subject: Re: Striker Anywhere Matches .... ?
From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Date: Mar 17 1997
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics

In article <>, The Silent Observer
<> says:

> I once left three long, gently arcing scratches in a 
>picture window (when I was younger and much more foolish) trying to 
>verify what I'd read about lighting a paper match with a long, very fast 
>swipe on a piece of window glass (didn't work).  

Silent, I hope it wasn't I who made the suggestion.
The trick is to clean the window before you drag 
the safety match across it.  Also you have to  
press the match firmly against the pane with 
your finger and quickly remove said finger after
ignition (of the match). A stroke of 2 feet or so

The stroke should be made in an ornamental arc
because it will leave a clearly and permanently
etched memento of your effort whether you succeed 
or fail in making fire..

Jerry (Ico)

Subject: Re: Striker Anywhere Matches .... ?
From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Date: Mar 18 1997
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics

In article <5gko7g$>, ( ANDREW AITKEN ) says:

>In article <5ghnnn$9dk$>,
>Gerald L. Hurst <> wrote:
>>I never played with matches, not even in clothespin guns :)
>>Jerry (Ico)
>I remember building a clothespin gun once and was thinking of it 
>recently. Could you post (or e-mail) instructions for me. I can't 
>remember any details on how to do it for the life of me.

I made just such a post some time ago in this forum or 
alt.engr.explosives.  I don't keep any copies of my posts but maybe 
I can find it with DejaNews. Perhaps someone else kept a copy.

The technique is simple but it takes a few words to describe it.
The most important step is squaring off the leading portion of
one of the arcs on one wooden leg where the coil spring originally 
resided. By "leading,' I mean the thick end of the leg.  Then you
mount the coil of the spring on the opposite side of the same leg
you squared off with the two L-shaped ends of the spring on the
same side as the squared-off arc.  Those two L-shaped spring ends
are cocked so that they are pulled against the leg on the 
newly squared-off side and the coil is pulled against the flat 
opposite side.  Now you tape the other, unaltered pin leg to the 
altered one at the skinny ends of the two legs such that the coil
is on the outside.  You probably want to face the flat side of the 
unaltered leg to the contoured side of the spring leg so the 
contraption will be tight enough to hold little match heads.  This 
procedure is optional if you are working with kitchen matches.

You use a third clothespin leg to cock the device such that the 
forwardmost spring L is retained in the squared off notch and the
spring on the back rises to the ready position.  A little thumb
pressure on the coil fires the device.  If there happens to be a 
strike-anywhere match stuck head first into the tapered slot formed 
by the two legs, it will be propelled and ignited.

All of this is purely academic, of course, because I never ever 
played with matches much less such a device when I was a kid.

Jerry (Ico)

From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Match Head?
Date: 12 Nov 1995 23:42:34 GMT
Organization: Consulting Chemist
Lines: 18

In article <485gno$>,
(Sandy Campbell) says:

>        At hotel I lifted 20 complementry match packets, these are not safety
>matches but will they work, or is it all for nothing.

No, they won't work. Only the kind you buy actually work. Hotel
matches are merely ornamental objects intended for matchbox
collectors and are only placed in non-smoking rooms. You can
tell the kind that work from the kind that don't by dragging the
tip across a rough surface, preferably one coated with red 
phosphorus and an abrasive. If you lived in the United States
you could simply purchase matches that work in a supermarket.
In a real pinch, when all you have is a safety match and no
striking surface you can light your match with long swipe
accross a CLEAN glass window, such as they often have in hotels.


From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Match Head?
Date: 13 Nov 1995 06:55:58 GMT
Organization: Consulting Chemist
Lines: 56

In article <486lr5$>, (The
Silent Observer) says:

>In article <4860pa$>, Gerald L. Hurst 
>( says...
>>In a real pinch, when all you have is a safety match and no
>>striking surface you can light your match with long swipe
>>accross a CLEAN glass window, such as they often have in hotels.
>Y'know, I heard that, and actually tried it with safety matches (paper, 
>in a book) when I was about 13.  The only result was that my aunt (whose 
>window I used) wanted to know what in the heck caused the streaks on the 
>windows??  The match did >not< light in several attempts...

Well, Silent. it's time you try it again now that you're older
and have cleaner windows. Damp windows and greasy windows don't
work but REASONABLY clean ones do. 

Would I lie ?:) or suggest something I hadn't done myself ?:)
As you are making that 2-foot swipe across the window with
your index finger warily but firmly demonstrating that 
frictional heat is proportional to pressure, consider the 
humiliation of reading a post tomorrow from some jubilant 
AOLer whosuccessfully ignited a safety match after riding 
his skateboard across town to find a clean window and a 
match at the Hilton.

Grumble, I looked all over the house to find one of the 
numerous books of matches I tote home from restaurants 
in the vain hope that the smokers will miss at least
one lonely pack in case I ever need to light a fire.

Voila! a pack of Shady Grove paper matches. I go up to
the kitchen where rumor has it my wife was seen wielding
a bottle of Windex. No luck, the sliding door hasn't
been cleaned this year and the lower half is all 3-year
old grandkid handprints, the top half merely uniform dingy
gray. I swipe a match across the surface, pressing the
tip firmly against the doubtful surface. Although I 
haven't done this in 20 or more years, the feel is wrong - 
too well lubricated (I guess it's like skating or riding 
a bike). Half of the matchhead has turned dust gray.

Aha! I spot the reported, but unused bottle of Windex
and one of my old padded socks. Spray, spray, rub, rub.
fan,fan to visible dryness. Now I turn the match over
(waste not want not) and execute at mighty stroke, leaving
a 2.5 ft streak on the newly cleaned patch, and, TA DA,
a flaming match.


From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Dumbest question ever
Date: 20 Jan 1996 21:44:23 GMT

In article <>, (Tony Garton) says:

>    This will probably be the lamest question you have ever heard from an 
>experienced pyro hobbyist, but what is the proper way to light a paper match?
>I can never light the things with the cover closed without burning my 
>fingertip.  The paper isn't strong enough to just strike it on the 
>ignition strip like you would a wooden match.  I find I have to loop the 
>cover over the back of the matchbook and pinch the match between the 
>cover and the ignition strip.  I then pull the match through while 
>applying light pressure to the cover.  Perhaps if the paper strips were a 
>bit longer I could put my index finger over the back of the match head 
>while gripping the bottom of the strip with my thumb and middle finger.  
>This would give me time to move my fingertip away before the flame 
>reached the back of the match head and burned it.

Strange as it may sound to you, the easiest method is to
press your index finger or thumb on top of the head and remove
it immediately at the end of the stroke to keep from getting 
burned. Wrapping the cover backwards in an unnecessary attempt 
to protect your finger greatly increases the danger of igniting 
the whole assembly of matches.

Jerry (Ico)

From: The Silent Observer <>
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics,alt.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Phossy Jaw
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 02:41:59 -0800

John H. Cato, Jr. wrote:
> Barry Williams wrote:
> >
> > Can anyone e-mail some information on the medical condition known as
> > 'Phossy Jaw', which was once prevalent amongst workers in match
> > factories, caused by exposure to white phosphorus?
> Barry, I remember reading something about the effects of Phosphorus on
> bone condition (Merck Index, maybe??) several years ago.  Something
> about attacking the calcium and causing degeneration (??? it's in the
> real foggy part of my brain today <g>).  Seems this was more related to
> the products of combustion (P05??).  Maybe some of the 'pros' out here
> can elaborate.
> On this *white* phosphorus use in match factories, I thought most
> matches used *red* phosphorus?  However, I guess in a commercial
> quantity environment, they might of procured white and converted to red
> (I have no idea on this).
> -- john.

The earliest matches, called "lucifers" got the name because they glowed 
in the dark when the bottle was opened.  They had a white phosporus head 
on a wood splint, and were stored in a glass vial with an airtight 
stopper to prevent ignition in the pocket (mostly).  A little fine 
sandpaper on the bottom of the bottle served as a striking surface.  
These were introduced around 1870; by 1900 (or a little earlier) it was 
recognized that they were a) much too sensitive to carry in a pocket, b) 
a little too toxic for use in lighting cigars and pipes, and c) killing 
the people who made them.

Around that time, the Safety Match system was invented, with sulfur and 
potassium chlorate in the ignition head, and a bare trace of red 
phosphorus on the striker surface of the box to give quicker ignition on 
the limited surface (the kitchen version has a tiny trace of red P in the 
white tip, also, for ease of ignition by friction).  The company that 
first came into this method soon released it into the public domain, 
citing the human cost of making the old-style lucifers -- and the 
lucifers were gone by 1910.  Phossy jaw is now an extremely rare 

| Any reliable, convenient technology will engender a population of    |
| users ignorant of its most basic workings.                           |
|         -- restatement of Clarke's Law as applicable to the Internet |
| | 
| Rocket Pages  | 
| All opinions expressed are my own, and should in no way be mistaken  | 
| for those of anyone but a rabid libertarian.                         | 

From: (Roger Fleming)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics,alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: HK (was about some fucked up notion
Date: 6 Nov 1996 05:03:25 GMT

"Lloyd E. Sponenburgh" <> wrote:

> Ok, I did it _EXACTLY_ like you said to.  And you're right, it didn't
> flash down the tube.
> It burnt from end-to-end (three inches) in something under 1/4 second.
> That's not flashing, that's just fast burning.
> I'm SURE you can let go of a grenade, and run to safety in a 1/4
> second.  I know I can.
> LLoyd

I also just did the experiment (after all, it's pretty easy).
Here are my results using 5mm plastic straws:
(Note: these are ignited from the side with a lighter, to ensure the end
of the tube is not obstructed. They are suspended with a loop of wire,
partly so I don't burn myself, but mainly so I have a hand free to operate
the stopwatch).

1. 50mm straw, open both ends. Used 12 matchheads. Mean of 3 trials: 1.1s
On average, 2 matchheads ejected unburned.

2. 100mm straw, open both ends. Used 25 matchheads. Mean of 3 trials: 1.2s
On average, 2 ejected.

3. 150mm straw, open both ends. Used 38 matchheads. Result of one trial:
1.2s (by this time, I'm getting sick of cutting up matches).

4. 50mm straw, as per serial 1., using another brand of matches.
Average of one trial: 0.8s. Also, these matches are much harder to cut up
and have more tendency for the composition to crumble.

Hmm, this makes burn time approximately independant of fuse length; not
really a desirable characteristic.
Hypothesis: it takes the best part of a second for the two end matches to
build up enough pressure to confine gasses deeper in the tube, then the
flame shoots down the tube in a few tenths of a second. If this is true,
confinement at the ignited end will accelerate the process, confinement at
the unlit end will slow it. So:

4. 50mm straw, sealed at the unlit end:
a. First trial misfired; only one matchhead burned.
b. Second trial hangfired. 7.7s later, it reignited (presumably from a
smouldering matchhead or plastic?), and burned to the end in 1.7 seconds.

5. To be thorough, I should also do trials with the ignition end of the
tube blocked (for example, by some striker board, as recommended by HK).
However it is not easy to arrange with my set up and I'm well and truly
sick of cutting up matches. (Douglas Ready) wrote:

> >> Of course, what this device will really do is flash straight down the
> >> match heads in a fraction of a second, and burst in your hand.
> Mr. "HK" just happens to be RIGHT about using match
> heads in a soda straw to make an improvised fuse. I
> have used this a number of times with zero problems.
> If you want to do it, you need the wooden stick
> matches, not paper book matches.  Just snip the
> heads off with wire cutter plyers and force them 
> tightly into the straw so they line up in single
> file.  The burn rate is pretty fast but it will
> NOT flash down the straw instantaniously as 

I didn't say instantaneous. I said in a fraction of a second. That seems
to be about right.

> somebody claimed.  Obviously you want to try a
> few test runs before using this fuse in a serious
> grenade or whatever so you get a feel for its
> burn rate.
> I don't mean to endorse all of the recipes this
> guy posted.  Some of it sounds like bull to me

Well, for a start, you have so completely missed the point you certainly
seem to be endorsing him. Yes, most of his posts were just absurd, but
this time he posted a recipe which he quite _deliberately_ made as
dangerous as possible (use glass so you can't x-ray the fragments; watch
the burst from a few feet away so you can see the shrapnel flying about;
don't bother testing your fuse; etc).
I jumped in to point out to gullible newbies that it was dangerous
nonsense - and you backed him up!!

> but the match head/soda straw improvised fuse
> is a well established trick of the trade among
> respectable amateur bangsters.  I humbley suggest
> that the gray-beard "fart-knockers" who flamed

Not that it means much, but I'm twenty seven.

> this guy on his fuse recipe try it in their fancy-
> ass university labs and see if it works instead

Alas, I don't have a university lab, so I did it on my porch (not perch).
It doesn't work.

> of shooting flames from their lofty perch without
> having ever seen the device in question.

I have seen similar devices, more professionally made. Not surprisingly,
this works about the same, but is significantly less reliable.

Actually, I only did this because it was so easy to test. It really isn't
the reponsibility of the "grey-beards" to _prove_ the hazard of every
apparently dangerous recipe published. You would never be finished, and
95% of the time you would waste your time proving your initial guess
correct. Rather, if someone comes up with a novel practice which he
believes is worth pursuing, it is up to him to prove it superior to what
we already have.

From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Strike anywhere matches 2
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 05:01:07 EDT
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.camping

Ed Stevens wrote:
> You cannot imagine NOT being able to find them?  What state do you
> live in?  I believe a lot of states prohibit the sale of
> strike-anywhere matches (which is what the original poster asked
> about).  Come to TN and try to find them.  If you do, let me know
> where, I'd like to stock up on them myself.

The local Ace hardware has 'em.  Think I saw 'em in a Bi-Lo store
too.  I know I've seen them in a campground store but I can't
remember which one.  Haven't been out of the state in a few weeks so
it's probably going to be one near Knoxville.

BTW, a fun thing to do with strike-anywhere matches is to shoot 'em
out the barrel of a .177 cal pellet gun.  Fired against a hard
surface such as rock, the head explodes with a firecracker-like
report :-)

I never have been able to keep strike-anywhere matches dry enough to
work when I really, really needed it - like when I'm freezing my ass
off!  Waxing them seemed to just make them not strike under any
condition.  Those waterproof containers aren't, in my experience. 
For emergency fire, I keep a couple of disposable butane lighters
and one of those magnesium fire starter blocks.  I don't use the
magnesium.  I simply use the HUGE flint along the side of the thing
to light the gas from the lighter.  This works even when both are
soaking wet.


From: mvp@netcom.COM (Mike Van Pelt)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: FAQ progress? Was re: Grumpy, aren't we?
Message-ID: <1991Nov27.071721.29334mvp@netcom.COM>
Date: 27 Nov 91 07:17:21 GMT

In article <> (H Keith Henson) writes:
>I can't agree more.  Want your ears to ring?  Bang a match head sized
>chunk of clorate or perclorate mixed with *anything* which will burn
>with a hammer.  Wear goggles.

For a good ear-ringer, all you need is a half-dozen "safety" match
heads and a mortar & pestle.  Grind well until it goes bang.  My ears
rang for a couple of days, and I had whiplash of the wrist.  I was
really surprised at the violence of the explosion.  A few quick
thoughts about scaling it up disabused me of the idea of using
match heads as rocket fuel.

Caution: Thermostellar Device             Mike Van Pelt
Do Not Expose to First Semester 
Philosophy Students.            

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