Who Made the First Match?

In 1780, a group of French chemists discovered how to combine chemicals to produce fire. Their matches worked well, but the burning of one chemical, phosphorus, was found to be poisonous.

A safe striking match was developed by John Walker, an English pharmacist, in 1827. He accidentally scraped the end of a stick he was using on the stone floor to remove a blob of chemical from it, and it burst into flame.

Walker made his first matches with cardboard. Later he paid schoolboys and people from a poorhouse to cut flat wooden splints by hand for his matches. He packaged the matches in a tin tube with a strip of sandpaper for striking, and sold them to friends and townspeople.

Rats and mice can set off matches by chewing at the striking heads!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.