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The second easiest way to start a fire is with matches. They are common, easily acquired, cheap and don’t take a lot of training to use. No survivalist worth his salt should ever leave home without a pack or two of matches.


What makes safety matches “safe” is that the phosphorous isn’t on the match, but instead on the striker. That prevents an inadvertent chemical reaction, starting an unwanted fire. This inadvertent reaction could happen if a box of strike anywhere matches has something hard and heavy dropped onto it. Safety matches are the worst possible match choice for a survival situation. However, they are still better than not having any matches at all. They are easy to use, but require that the striker be available. The striker must be kept dry as well, as a wet striker won’t work to start a fire.

Just having matches isn’t enough though. Almost all matches are susceptible to being destroyed by water. So, your match collection needs to be nicely stored in waterproof containers. For those that you are carrying on your person, a waterproof match container is ideal. For the rest of your match stock, try a heavy duty ZipLock bag or a film canister (if you can find one).

Matches come in a variety of shapes and sizes. While they are all intended to do the same basic thing, that’s about the end of what they have in common. You can get matches which range all the way from the el cheapo paper matches that are given away with advertising on them, all the way up to some pretty sophisticated matches that are intended for survival situations. You can even make your own survival matches. The most common types of matches to look for are: