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Match stick

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The first matches were "strike anywhere" matches that would light when rubbed on any surface such as a stone or the sole of a shoe. The safety match was invented in 1844 by John Bryant of Plymouth. It will light when rubbed on the striking surface of the match-box, but not when rubbed on another abrasive surface.  Red phosphorous is the substance on the striking surface of a match-box that causes the match to light. The head of a safety match contains a mixture of sulphur, glass powder and an oxidising agent. The glass powder provides friction and the oxidising agent feeds the flame. But it is the red phosphorous on the matchbox that ignites the match.

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