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So why would I want to know how to waterproof matches? Well, everyone loving the outdoors knows that nothing ruins a hike or a camping trip like rain that catches you unprepared. And we’re not talking about the obvious downside (you’re getting wet), but perhaps the most important thing when hiking or camping. And that is making a fire, which can be quite challenging after rain, especially if you’re not prepared for it.

Now the problem with rain is that it tends to get things wet. So you might have a lighter (there’s usually at least one smoker in every group) or a box of matches hidden away in a bag, but usually accidents happen. And no matter if you need it for cooking or, even more important, for staying warm, you need a fire. Usually, getting a water resistant way to light a fire is easy and you can find waterproof matches or a waterproof fire starter at any outdoors store out there, but what if you decide to go on an unplanned trip the next morning and you don’t have anything around or you simply decide you want to save a few bucks?

Well, then you need to know how to waterproof matches. This might sound like a complicated task, but trust us, it’s not difficult at all. It takes a couple of minutes, it requires stuff you most certainly have around the house (a candle or nail polish) and it’s not messy at all.

So here are the three easiest and cheapest ways to waterproof matches (with videos, to make it even easier for you guys).

1. The candle method

Burn a candle in order to obtain about 1 cm of liquid wax (remember to extinguish the candle when you’re done). While the wax is still in liquid form, dip the head of the match to cover at least 3 mm of the stick below the head. Hold the match until the wax hardens. Make sure the match head doesn’t touch any surface until the wax is hardened. Before the wax is completely hardened, pinch the end of the wax coating – the portion on the stick – in order to seal it.

This is really easy and to make it even easier for you, here’s a video showing exactly how it’s done:

2. Using nail polish

Such as you dipped the match stick into liquid wax, this time you can dip it into a bottle of clear nail polish. Hold the match in your hands and allow the nail polish to slightly dry (to a point where it doesn’t drip off the match). Place the match on the edge of your table or desk, while making sure the dipped head doesn’t touch any surface, until it completely dries out. Just to be safe, place a sheet of paper on the floor, just under the matches, for any excess amount of nail polish that may drip off.

3. Using turpentine

Measure 2 large tablespoons of turpentine. Pour them into a small glass. Soak the head of each match individually into the turpentine for about 5 minutes. Spread a newspaper page on the table. Place each soaked match on the paper and allow it to dry. About 20 minutes should suffice to evaporate the excess turpentine.

Can I buy these things already waterproofed?

Is there anything out there that you CAN’T buy? Of course you can get matches that are already waterproofed and, to be honest, I only made my own one or two times. Because you can usually find them at any outdoors store or online, they’re really cheap ($6 to $10, depending on quality, box size, accessories) and they’re really convenient. Usually they come in a compact sealed plastic case (some even float!), the matches are easy to light, burn up to 15-20 seconds and can be relight even after being submerged in water. Throughout the years, we’ve had the chance to test plenty of these and we actually wrote an article about the ones we thought are the best waterproof matches around (UCO is probably the best brand out there for these things).

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