Quick Prepper Tip: Playing with Fire

By Lisa Metheny published on in Camping & Survival

Cheaper Than Dirt Quick Prepper TipThere is one item that nearly every home in America probably has on hand and that is matches. We use matches to light the fireplace, birthday candles, lanterns, brush piles, bonfires and more.  We even use matches to seal a frayed nylon rope or sterilize a needle.

Stick matches in a jar

Keeping a fresh supply of matches around is a good idea. Here are a few things you may not know about this commonly found household item.

Quite by accident in 1826 John Walker invented the match and nearly a half trillion are used each year.

Although most boxes are not marked with an expiration date, matches do get old and can loose their ability to light. Good matches are bright red in color (think Santa’s suit) if the color is more along the lines of burgundy or dull red these are typically older matches. Matches do come in other colors but red is most common.

There are several types of matches such as strike anywhere matches, waterproof matches and safety matches.

The book-type matches are more popular than loose wooden box matches thanks to the potential for advertising opportunities found on the booklet.

Mason jar with sandpaper circle on top filled with matches.

A piece of sandpaper on the top of a Mason jar will ensure a striker will always be handy in an emergency.

Mice like matches and will chew on them. This could start a fire so storing them in mouse proof containers is wise.

Good storage options for matches

  • Old film canisters
  • Old prescription bottles
  • Metal cans

You can also use a small glass canning jar with fine sandpaper glued to the topside of the lid. This makes for easy dispensing and striking.

Storage tips

  • Store away from heat or direct sunlight
  • Keep away from children and pets

How do matches play into your preps? Tell us in the comment section.


Lisa Metheny is a published award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, speaker and outdoor skills instructor. Lisa holds several instructor certifications and conducts a number of women-focused outdoor seminars on topics such as archery and hunting throughout the year. She regularly teaches hunters education and archery classes and has become an advocate for promoting traditional outdoor recreation to families across the United States. Lisa is also an avid and accomplished hunter with many big game species to her credit. She is a member of POMA and former Board of Directors member as well as a member of the NRA, RMEF, MDF and DU.

View all articles by Lisa Metheny

Tags: , , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  • stormy1


    Take 8-10 wooden kitchen matches. Wrap with twine into bundle. Leave a 4-5 inch tail and use it as a handle to dip the whole thing into old melted candle wax. Let cool and repeat until completely covered. A Ziploc or Tupperware with a handful of these will last forever. Very waterproof and a great way to start a wet pile of crap in the campfire.


  • Bill from Boomhower, Texas


    My dad used to say: ” If you play in the fire, you’ll pee in the bed”. Seems like it worked out that way, a time or two. When I’d write my name in the dust covered garage doors when they were pulled shut at the feed mill on Sundays while filling the water trailer so we’d have drinking water, he’d say: “Fool’s names and fool’s faces, always seen in public places”. And here I am, writing this. He really was a smart old man.

    I’d tried dipping the kitchen matches in melted candle wax when I was young, and that did seem to work pretty well to waterproof them, and a little wax seemed to aid in keeping them going as well. For years now, I’ve kept a big box of kitchen matches in a big plastic Skippy peanut butter jar, with the sandpaper lid like you said Lisa. Down at the deer lease we used to use glass jars, because of the rats you mentioned. Whenever we buy shoes or other products that come with the little disicant packages, I’ll drop a fresh one or two in the jar, along withthe matches. Old salvaged candle wax can be melted and poured over the dryer lint from your dryer filter, and this can be cut into strips or squares to help get a fire going, and in leiu of the matches, a 9 volt batteryand a small chunk of steel wool will hav e a blaze going, quicker than you can pull out a match and strike it. The dryer lint would probably work pretty well with a magnifying glass also, I would imagine.


  • Hank Alvarez


    I have to agree with Jim, I carry matches in old prescription bottles in both my field pack and my bug out bag but they’re my third and last resort. I haven’t tried dipping them in candle wax but I may consider that as I have had wet matches that came apart when you tried to strike them and they were really useless. Matches are still behind my propane/butane lighters and magnesium starters. Teamed with a little can of lighter fluid and cotton balls matches are okay but they’re all still behind my trusty Zippo. Hank


  • Jim P.


    I was brought up when the self-striking matches were available. Without those I now keep three regular butane lighters and a flint/magnesium rod in my BOB. The butane lighter are changed out from Wal-Mat about every 9-12 months by buying a 7 pack of Scriptos for about $2. The flint/magnesium is the secondary.

    The typical wood match in the U.S. is a piece of crap. I wouldn’t trust them to light off a firecracker at this point.


  • AR Shooter


    if you want a water proof [or almost] match . Take the old fashion “strike anywhere” matches dip the entire match using tweezers in melted wax , maybe twice > Than wola you now have water RESISTANT matches . Who said those old Boy Scout TICKS aren’t useful ! !


Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: