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We use match box daily, so what is the chemical which is used in match box and stick so that when they are rubbed they produce fire.

What is the chemical reaction happening there?

So simple yet many do not know.
asked Dec 28, 2015 in Chemical Engineering by T.PRATHIBA (181 points) | 13,316 views
"So simple yet many do not know." +1 :)

1 Answer

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Here we have 2 components that fight to produce heat.

Friction between match box surface and match stick head lights up fire.

Tip of Match has : potassium chlorate (an oxidant), sulfur, starch, glue and some other ingredients. 

Potassium chlorate :

  
Striking Surface : red phosphorus, powdered glass,  and glue. 

Red phosphorus :

Well ,whats a an oxidant ?

An oxidizing agent is a chemical that takes electrons from another chemical. 
When a chemical loses electrons we say it has been oxidized. 
An oxidizing agent is necessary to keep a flame lit. 

When a match strikes on striking surface, the heat of the friction causes a reaction between the potassium chlorate in the match head and the red phosphorus in the striking surface. 

That way sparks are formed, which finally ignite the match head that continues to burn after that, the friction caused by the glass powder rubbing together produces enough heat to turn a very small amount of the red phosphorus into white phosphorus, which catches fire in air.


The heat and oxygen gas then cause the sulfur to burst into flame, which then catches the wood of the match to catch on fire

We can sum up the chemical equation as :

16KCl3 + 3P4 S3 --> 16 KCl + 9SO2

More reference :
http://www.pa.msu.edu/sciencet/ask_st/092596.html

Note :

White phosphorus is extremely dangerous and are stored in water ,as they catch fire in air !

answered Dec 28, 2015 by slow_learner (1,492 points)
edited May 23, 2016 by slow_learner