Red phosphorus

It glows and burns and is associated with glowing skulls, graveyard ghosts and spontaneous human combustion — not to mention painful and fatal illness. I would like to tell you about phosphorus , my favourite element in the periodic table. Phosphorus is an excellent candidate for a poison blog as there are a surprising number of ways it can kill you. Phosphorus is an essential part of life. When combined with oxygen to make phosphates, it holds our DNA together, makes our bones strong and carries out fundamental chemical reactions within our cells. But phosphorus also has its dark side.

Red Phosphorus for Safe Match Making

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Throughout the nineteenth century the British match-making industry used white phosphorus in the production of lucifer matches, despite the knowledge taht the.

My periodic table poster is now available! Making Matches This is an extended version of one of my Popular Science columns : It contains more details and photographs than the magazine version. This version is not officially associated with the magazine: Responsibility for the contents is solely mine. Click any picture to open a larger version in a separate window. I started this project with the goal of making a batch of functional matches using a minimum of complicated chemicals.

The formula for commercial matches includes a bunch of things like antimony sulfide, which may improve some particular aspect of the match’s performance shelf life, manufacturing ease, etc , but which can in fact be omitted entirely without losing the basic functions of the match. When you get right down to it, you can make a match using only three ingredients: Potassium chlorate, red phosphorus and Elmer’s glue.

I started by mixing up a stiff paste of Elmer’s yellow wood glue and potassium chlorate. This mixture is fairly inert when wet: I’ve tried lighting it with a blow torch and it barely sustained combustion on its own. And of course you don’t have to use a mini-anvil: The first time I just used the handle of a spoon, but the mini-anvil looked better for the magazine photos.

Then I baked the matches for a few hours in a warm but not hot oven, to dry the glue all the way through.

How Do Safety Matches Work?

The production of matches in Hull began with the arrival of Ezra Butler Eddy, one of the most enterprising, inventive and gifted individuals of his generation. At the beginning, with the help of his wife, he barely managed to make ten cases of matches a day. The work was carried out in his house in the style of a cottage industry.

There were 90 women 4 working for the match firm in and in

modern match. Non-phosphorus fire. Between the years 17a great variety of chemical fire making devices made their appearance. These were.

One of the most noteworthy of these was the location of “black” phosphorus. For many years the Red and White members of the phosphorus family have been well known. A new member has now joined the group–Black, according to Professor P. Bridgman ’04, Professor of Physics in the University. Phosphorus means “light- bearer” and most of us have seen the glow which the old-fashioned “all-day choker” matches gave out when scratched in the dark.

This pale glow is due to white phosphorus used in making the head of the match so that it will strike easily and anywhere–from the thumb nail to the trouser leg. Unfortunately the same chemical activity that makes white phosphorus glow in the dark also makes it poison the workmen in the factories and occasionally kill a mouse or an inquiring baby, so that matches of this sort were practically taxed out of existence by Federal law some years ago.

Nowadays the chemists have found other materials to take the place of white phosphorus, so that the “strike- anywhere” match has become a fairly digestible article. White phosphorus still finds use, however, to improve the vacuum in electric lamps, in making rat poisons, and, in smoke screens, for when a shell filled with it bursts, the phosphorus catches fire instantly and sprays its flaming drops in every direction, sending up a cloud of dense white smoke.

A better kind of phosphorus for matches is the red variety, which is used on the box in making safety matches, and catches fire if you rub it hard enough with the powdered glass and active chemicals in the head of the match. This is a mild-mannered, quiet sort of a substance, it doesn’t catch fire in the air until you heat it quite hot, it won’t dissolve in anything, and it can be eaten without any discomfort. A third form of the element, known as black phosphorus, was discovered in at Harvard University by Professor Bridgman, who was studying the effects of high pressure.

London matchgirls 1888

Matches, as it turns out, have been around for a long time. Sulfur-based matches are mentioned as far back as the s in texts of the time, and in the s a process involving drawing sulfur matches through dried phosphorus-soaked paper was devised. These matches were somewhat unreliable in whether or not they would successfully strike, however.

China Red Phosphorus for Safe Match Making, Find details about China Red Phosphorus, Phosphorus from Red Phosphorus for Safe Match Making – Sichuan​.

Until the mids, lighting a fire was a painstaking and frustrating process. Tinder—shredded wood pulp, dried grass or wool—had to be ignited with sparks created by striking a coarse stone against steel then stoked with oxygen into a small flame until hot enough to light firewood. Matches were an improvement but often dangerous, because they were made with highly combustible yellow phosphorus. The safety match was invented by a Swedish professor in and is still in use today. You can make your own strike-anywhere matches, but exercise the utmost caution: the chemicals used to make them are extremely hazardous.

Cut your dowel rods into matchsticks by nicking with a small knife and snapping into 2- to 3-inch lengths. Mix a small amount of potassium chlorate with white glue in a Pyrex or Kimex beaker to create a thick paste.

Friction Matches Were a Boon to Those Lighting Fires–Not So Much to Matchmakers

Fire was a basis of modern humankind and a catalyst for the expansion of our ancestors beyond the borders of Africa. It gave us the power to survive in harsh environments, process food, an change the shape of the environment we live in. However, that process was still slow, unreliable and dependent upon many conditions rain, wind, low portability.

To ed the usc of phosphorus, which in , a few years after its first und when required for use a sulphur match was dipped into it; the match was the phosphorus in the various processes of making matches frequently canse.

A match is a small stick of wood or strip of cardboard with a solidified mixture of flammable chemicals deposited on one end. When that end is struck on a rough surface, the friction generates enough heat to ignite the chemicals and produce a small flame. Some matches, called strike-anywhere matches, may be ignited by striking them on any rough surface. Other matches, called safety matches, will ignite only when they are struck on a special rough surface containing certain chemicals.

The first known use of matches was in during the siege of a town in northern China. Women in the town used sticks coated with a mixture of chemicals to start fires for cooking and heating, thus allowing them to conserve their limited fuel by putting the fires out between uses.

History of Matches and Lighters

Friction matches gave people the unprecedented ability to light fires quickly and efficiently, changing domestic arrangements and reducing the hours spent trying to light fires using more primitive means. But they also created unprecedented suffering for match-makers: One of the substances used in some of the first friction matches was white phosphorus. A British pharmacist named John Walker invented the match by accident on this day in , according to Today in Science History.

Eddy Company decided to make use of phosphorus sesquisulphide But the rights to this chemical compound were controlled by an international match cartel​.

The London match-girls strike of was a strike of the women and teenage girls working at the Bryant and May Factory in Bow, London. The strike was sparked by the poor working conditions in the match factory, including fourteen-hour work days, poor pay, excessive fines, and the severe health complications of working with yellow or white phosphorus, such as phossy jaw. Three weeks later, the factory owners agreed to rehire the strikers and end the fine system. In , the Salvation Army opened up its own match factory in the Bow district of London, using less toxic red phosphorus and paying better wages.

Part of the reason behind this match factory was the desire to improve the conditions of home workers, including children, who dipped yellow phosphorus-based matches at home. Several children died from eating these matches. Interestingly, the Salvation Army match factory had lower rates of phossy jaw than did the Bryant and May factory in the same locality; this was due to improved working conditions.

The Bryant and May factory received bad publicity from these events, and in they announced that their factory no longer used yellow phosphorus. However, Bryant and May’s safety matches sales had increased fold by and Lundstrom was unable to increase his production any further; so they bought his UK Patent, and with his assistance, built a model safety match factory in Bow. They started using red phosphorus in , but could not compete on price against the much cheaper yellow phosphorus-based matches; hence the use of child labour.

The Salvation Army had the same problem; their own matches were initially three times the price of yellow phosphorus-based matches. They had some partial success, because many of their supporters refused to buy yellow phosphorus-based matches; they automated much of the match-making processes, but not box filling, thus bringing down costs; and, the use of child labour in dangerous trades was prohibited.

The factory still struggled to compete on price; and after the War Cry ceased to advertise their matches.

How to Make a Homemade Match

Unintentionally swallowing a few match tips is not dangerous but would be expected to cause some minor irritation to the mouth and stomach. Swallowing a large number of matches can cause serious effects including damage to red blood cells and organs such as the kidneys and liver. Matches are made from small sticks of wood or cardboard coated on one tip with ignitable materials.

The match tip is struck across a suitable surface to ignite the match. Typically, matches are packaged in books of 20 cardboard sticks or boxes containing varying quantities of wooden sticks.

phosphorus, the match industry had to learn how it should be purified. introduced into the production, every factory had to make their own test batches of safety.

Catherine Best does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. But these were the women who worked 14 hours a day in the East End of London and who were exposed to deadly phosphorous vapours on a daily basis. The effect literally causing the jaw bone to rot.

Doctors soon began treating these women for the disease — which would often spread to the brain leading to a particularly painful and horrific death, unless the jaw was removed. And even then a prolonged life was not guaranteed. But even though the risks were obvious, this was the Industrial Revolution — before employers were legally required to create safe working conditions. This meant that women on low wages continued to work long hours, while exposed to the toxic impact of white phosphorous and the devastating consequences this would have on their health.

Many of these women were working at Bryant and May which is unrelated to the current Bryant and May, which also makes matches and were Irish immigrants. They lived in abject poverty, in filthy housing unfit for human habitation and were often subject to prolonged hours of backbreaking work making matches. But despite the incessant exploitation, the low pay and excessive fines issued simply for being late, dropping a match or talking to others, the workers were forced to continue to work in these oppressive conditions.

Times, however, were changing. Annie Besant , a well known socialist exposed the conditions within the factory in her article White Slavery in London. This infuriated the factory owners and they attempted to force the workers to sign a paper stating that they were happy with their working lives.


Phosphorus P is an essential part of life as we know it. Phosphorus compounds can also be found in the minerals in our bones and teeth. It is a necessary part of our diet. In fact, we consume it in nearly all of the foods we eat. Phosphorus is quite reactive. This quality of the element makes it an ideal ingredient for matches because it is so flammable.

Phosphorus is a nonmetallic element that exists in several allotropic forms. The tip of the strike-anywhere match contains phosphorus sesquisulfide, P4S3.

In May , John T. Huner of Hancock Street in Brooklyn opened a match factory in what was then called Evergreen, located in present-day Glendale at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Centre Avenue later called Charlotte Place and now called 60th Lane. The Our Darling match factory produced both wooden strike matches and paper safety matches. Railroad freight cars on the nearby Bay Ridge line of the Long Island Rail Road delivered loads of white pine which was die cut into small pieces suitable for matches.

Wooden strike matches also called friction matches were first produced in the U. This was a poisonous, flammable chemical that was luminous in the dark. Young children also suffered poisoning by putting match heads into their mouths, and the chemical was used in many suicides and homicides. Safety matches were paper matches designed to light only when struck on a specially prepared match.

They were invented by Joshua Pussey in and eventually, for most uses, replaced wooden strike matches. In , one of the large breweries ordered 10 million packets of paper safety matches to advertise their beer. This was the start of volume production. The original Our Darling Match Factory was a two-story brick building with connecting wooden one-story buildings. The wooden buildings were covered with zinc plating as a protective measure. The finished matches and the chemicals were stored in the wooden buildings.

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