How to Waterproof Your Matches at Home

 How to Waterproof Your Matches at Home

Including matches in your emergency kit is a good idea but if they should become wet, they become useless. Today we are going to look at how you can waterproof those matches so that you can always use them when you need them. We are going to look at four different methods that you can use easily at home.


Turpentine is a fluid obtained by the distillation of resin from live trees, mainly pines. It is usually used for mixing paints and varnishes but also makes for a very reliable waterproofing substance.

Follow along to make your matches waterproof using turpentine.

  • Pour 2 – 3 tablespoons of turpentine into a glass or bowl.
  • Place the matches, head down, into the turpentine and allow the heads to soak for at least 5 minutes. This will allow the turpentine to seep in to the tip of the matches and up the stem.
  • After removing soaked matches from turpentine, allow them to dry on a paper towel, newspaper, or tinfoil for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Store matches in a safe place. These matches will stay waterproof for several months.

Unlike other methods, there is no need to try and remove the substance before use as turpentine is very flammable. Strike the match and it should light as it would normally. Note: do not use a plastic cup to hold the turpentine; the chemicals can melt through the plastic.


Using wax to waterproof your matches is easy, cheap, and effective. You can use this method as follows:

  • Melt enough wax and then take each match and dip the head into the wax about a third of the way down the stick.
  • Pinch the tip of the match to tighten the seal once the wax has cooled. This ensures no water seeps in through air bubbles or cracks.
  • Let the matches dry completely.

This method is often shared as being reliable, and it is, but once the wax has dried it can become brittle and crack, at which point, it wont be waterproof.

Unlike the turpentine method, you will need to scrape off the wax when you need to use the matches.

Nail Polish

This method is reliable in that it won’t crack once dried and like turpentine, you won’t need to remove it before lighting.

  • Dip your matches in to the nail polish and allow to dry for about 20-30 minutes.
  • When drying, ensure the match heads are suspended over the ledge of a table or counter, with a paper towel underneath to catch any drips.

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin waxes are flammable, translucent substances, which are obtained by distilling petroleum or shale. Normally, paraffin wax is used in cosmetics, polishes candles, and other sealing and waterproofing options.

  • Heat the paraffin wax in a double boiler until it has melted. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can also use a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water. You could use a pan over a low heat but be extra careful of a fire. Note: Paraffin wax has a low flash point, and can burst into flames if over heated.
  • Group the matches together and dip the tip (and part of the stick) of the bound matches, together into the wax quickly. This will help make a torch that can burn for 10 or more minutes.
  • If you do not want to make a miniature torch, dip each match singly into the paraffin wax, as you would with any of the above waterproofing options.

Which ever waterproofing method you choose, be sure to store your matches in a waterproof container.

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