4 Ways To Make Waterproof Matches

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4 Ways To Make Waterproof Matchesimage © Marek – fotolia.com

When you are in survival or camping situations, waterproof matches can be extremely beneficial. They may also be useful at home. If you are going on an intensive week long hike or living off the grid, it is better to have multiple means of starting fires. It is always a good idea to have matches for backup.

If you do not have strike anywhere matches, be sure to include a strikable surface. Note also that it is important to store matches in waterproof containers even after taking these measures.

Here are 4 Low-Tech ways to make waterproof matches. Please use safety measures during these procedures. If inhaled deeply or swallowed, Turpentine is poisonous.


Turpentine is the safest way to waterproof your matches. When compared to acetone, it has a higher flash point, or temperature needed to give sufficient fumes to ignite. It also does not involve any flame as with Paraffin or Candle wax.

If using this method, be sure to use a glass cup. The chemicals may burn through plastic. Mineral, Pine or Citrus turpentine can be used for this waterproofing method.

Turpentine removes any moisture absorbed hygroscopically. This makes matches with any wood at any age usable for this method. If done properly, it will keep matches waterproof for several months.

• Using a small glass, add 2 – 3 tablespoons.
• Turn the match head down and dip into the glass.
• This will need to soak for 5 minutes. It will allow the turpentine to soak thoroughly through the head and stem of the match.
• Spread matches out on Newspaper.
• Let Dry 20 minutes.

Nail Polish

While nail polish is not considered as good an option as turpentine, it is considered a better option that candle or paraffin wax. This is because it will not scratch or break as easily.

• For this step use clear polish. Dip the match into the nail polish. It should once again be head down. The stick should be covered roughly and eight on an inch beneath the head.
• Allow the match to dry by holding it in your hands for roughly 30 seconds.
• Using a table or counter, suspend the head of the match above the floor.
• Place paper or newspaper on the floor below the matches to be sure to catch any drips.

Candle Wax

This method works best with wood stemmed matches rather than wax stemmed.

• Light candle of your choice.
• Allow it to burn until there is a half inch of melted wax.
• Put the candle out.
• Once again using the head, dip the match into melted wax. This needs to cover about an eighth of an inch below the match head. You may also coat the entire match if desired.
• Hold match in your hands for roughly 30 seconds allowing wax to slightly harden.
• Place the match extended over a table edge.
• While the wax is still malleable, pinch the wax nearest the stick. This will form a waterproof seal.

Paraffin Wax

• Using a double boiler, melt paraffin wax. Be sure it is enough to cover the match (half of an inch). If you do not have a boiler, you may use a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water. It can also be melted using a pan on low heat. This may cause a fire, so if using this method be sure to take safety measures prior to beginning. It may also stick to pans.
• Wrap twine or just string around a bundle of matches from bottom. Continue to wrap until twin reaches barely beneath the wax. This will make a torch capable of burning 10 minutes.

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