would a box of matches work 100 years

would a box of matches work 100 years

Matches have been used for centuries as a convenient tool to create fire. They are compact, portable, and easy to use. However, one may wonder if a box of matches would still work after a hundred years. In this article, we will explore various aspects and scenarios to determine the effectiveness of matches after a century.

1. Storage Conditions

The storage conditions play a crucial role in the longevity of matches. If the matches are stored in a cool, dry place away from moisture and direct sunlight, there is a higher chance of them working even after a hundred years. However, if the matches are exposed to humidity or extreme temperature fluctuations, their effectiveness may decrease.

2. Chemical Composition

The chemical composition of matches is another factor to consider. Most matches contain a combination of sulfur, potassium chlorate, and phosphorus, which are highly flammable substances. Over time, these chemicals may degrade or lose their potency, reducing the chances of the matches working after a hundred years.

3. Ignition Mechanism

The ignition mechanism of matches is designed to ignite when struck against a rough surface. If the striking surface on the matchbox is intact and the friction is still present, there is a possibility that the matches will ignite even after a century. However, if the striking surface has worn off or become smooth, it may be challenging to ignite the matches.

4. Matchstick Heads

The matchstick heads are coated with a mixture of chemicals that ignite when exposed to friction. If the match heads have not deteriorated or been damaged over time, they may still ignite after a hundred years. However, if the chemicals have evaporated or degraded, the matches may fail to light.

5. Oxygen Exposure

Oxygen is necessary for combustion, and matches require a sufficient amount of oxygen to ignite. If the matches have been stored in an airtight container, the lack of oxygen may prevent them from lighting. However, if the matches have been exposed to air, there is a higher chance of them working even after a century.

6. Manufacturing Quality

The quality of match manufacturing also plays a significant role in their longevity. Matches produced with high-quality materials and precise measurements are more likely to withstand the test of time. However, matches of inferior quality may deteriorate faster and lose their effectiveness.

would a box of matches work 100 years

7. External Factors

External factors, such as accidents or mishandling, can impact the viability of matches after a hundred years. If the matches have been subjected to physical damage or chemical exposure, their chances of working decrease significantly. Proper handling and storage are essential to maintaining the matches’ effectiveness over a long period.

8. Alternative Ignition Methods

If the matches fail to work after a hundred years, there are alternative methods to create fire. Lighters, flint and steel, or other fire-starting tools can be used instead. It is always wise to have multiple backup options for fire ignition, especially in emergency situations.


In conclusion, while it is possible for a box of matches to work after a hundred years, several factors come into play. The storage conditions, chemical composition, ignition mechanism, matchstick heads, oxygen exposure, manufacturing quality, and external factors all contribute to the matches’ effectiveness. It is advisable to regularly check and replace matches to ensure their reliability in case of emergencies.

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