Magnetic safety matches

Johan Linden, M Lindberg, A Greggas, N Jylhavuori, H Norrgrann, Jan-Olof Lill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In addition to the main ingredients; sulfur, potassium chlorate and carbon, ordinary safety matches contain various dyes, glues etc, giving the head of the match an even texture and appealing color. Among the common reddish-brown matches there are several types, which after ignition can be attracted by a strong magnet. Before ignition the match head is generally not attracted by the magnet. An elemental analysis based on proton-induced x-ray emission was performed to single out iron as the element responsible for the observed magnetism. Fe-57 Mossbauer spectroscopy was used for identifying the various types of iron-compounds, present before and after ignition, responsible for the macroscopic magnetism: Fe2O3 before and Fe3O4 after. The reaction was verified by mixing the main chemicals in the match-head with Fe2O3 in glue and mounting the mixture on a match stick. The ash residue after igniting the mixture was magnetic.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Mossbauer spectroscopy
  • matches
  • proton-induced x-ray emission
  • magnetism
  • PIXE

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