“The Sorry State of Strike Anywhere Matches”.

There are two general types of matches, Safety Matches (strike on the box or booklet) and Strike Anywhere Matches (strike on most abrasive surfaces). The difference is that each Strike Anywhere Match is tipped with phosphorous so that it will light when struck on an abrasive surface and a Safety Match has to be struck on a phosphorous striking strip that is on the side of the box or booklet.

So what’s the big deal about Strike Anywhere Matches? If I need to start a fire, my preference is 1) a Butane Lighter, 2) Matches, and 3) a Ferro Rod . If I’m at home, I think Safety Matches are just fine. If I am going hiking, camping, or preparing a Bug Out Bag,  I want Strike Anywhere Matches because you can light them on almost any hard surface.  With Safety Matches, if the striking strip is damaged by rain or anything else, you are out of luck.

Tried to buy “Strike Anywhere Matches” lately? Please, don’t even bring up the new Diamond Green Tip Strike Anywhere Matches. They are the match equivalent of a neutered animal. It looks the same but it just doesn’t work the same.


Ohio Blue Tip Matches

About 9 months ago, I started looking for some Ohio Blue Tip matches to buy to add to my supplies. Ohio Blue Tips are/were the king of Strike Anywhere Matches (they were tipped with a very generous blob of light blue phosphorous that made them light on about anything). I remember doing all kinds of fun things with them as a kid. I would drop a match down the barrel of my cocked and empty Daisy Red-Rider BB gun, aim it at a brick wall or asphalt road and pull the trigger. Watching the match come flying out the barrel and lighting when it hit a hard surface provided me with hours of entertainment.

I was sorry to learn that the Ohio Match Co. closed in 1987 and Ohio Blue Tip Matches are no longer available except on eBay for $30 – $50 for a box of 250 Kitchen Matches.


Diamond Matches

Next I started searching for Diamond Strike Anywhere Matches and found that what Diamond produces now and calls a Strike Anywhere Match is only a sissified, neutered shell of what a real Strike Anywhere Match used to be.

After some research, I found that Diamond quit producing the Strike Anywhere red match with the white tip in January 2010. It seems the government classified them as dangerous products, band them from all commercial and cargo flights and restricted their ability to be trucked across country by requiring them to be shipped as hazardous material with special handling fees and red tape. Diamond sissified the match makeup to be able to ship them around the country. The new Green Tip matches barely light on the box let alone anywhere else. My tests showed that maybe 50%-60% will light on a surface that is slightly abrasive. They are really only a bit better than a safety match.

I did find some of the older red matches with the white tip on eBay. They were $5 for a box of 250 Kitchen Matches and I bought a few because I was happy to find them at a somewhat reasonable price. Just an aside, when the matches arrived, I compared them to some older Diamond Strike Anywhere Matches. I found that over time Diamond used a smaller blob of phosphorous on the tip of the match. They are way better that the newer Green Tip matches but they are not as good as the ones from the old days. I found that they lit well on surfaces as smooth as a cardboard box and as rough as concrete or a semi-rough rock.

I found that there are a couple other possibilities. Red Bird matches from Canada and Penley Matches from Chile. I read that both of these brands were close to the old Ohio Blue Tip matches.


Red Bird Matches

I learned that Red Bird Matches are actually a product of the USA that is trucked into Ontario for distribution across Canada. Crazy huh. I found someone on eBay who lives on the Canadian border and has created a small business  by making trips over the border, buying Red Bird Matches and selling them on eBay to preppers and pipe smokers for about $5 for a box of 250 kitchen matches.

When my little stash arrived, I was both a little happy and a little disappointed. Disappointed because they did not come close to the old Ohio Blue Tip quality but happy because they were a little better than the Diamond red match with a white tip. If I need a few more boxes of Strike Anywhere Matches and had my choice between Red Bird and Diamond for $5 a box, I would buy the Red Bird Matches.


Penley Matches

Penley Matches are made in Chile and shipped to Maine for distribution throughout the US. Someone on the web said that Diamond bought Penley Matches in October 2012 to stop the competition with Diamond’s green tip matches. There are some Penley Matches still available but they are getting scarce. Some buyers say they have found them at Dollar Stores, Kroger Markets, Cal-Ranch Stores and other rural type farm and feed stores. I found a case on eBay that was well priced and bought it because I figured there would not be a better deal for a supply. Someone is selling them on Amazon but they are $125 for a case of 36 boxes ($3.47 a box) with free shipping.

The Penley Matches were a pleasant surprise. They are a red match tipped with an adequate amount of white phosphorous. I was pleased with their quality. They lit on mild to moderate abrasive surfaces and even lit on my pant’s zipper. I rate them below Ohio Blue Tip Matches but better than any other “strike anywhere” match out there now right now. If Diamond did indeed buy Penley Matches to neuter and sissify them, my suggestion is to buy them while you can.


Ed Rogers
Copyright “Keep It Simple” 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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