Ques: Why does the matchstick start burning on rubbing it on the side of the matchbox?

Ans: These days the head of the safety match contains only antimony trisulphide and potassium chlorate. The rubbing surface has powdered glass and a little red phosphorus (which is much less dangerous). When the match is struck against the rubbing surface, some red phosphorus gets converted into white phosphorus. This immediately reacts with potassium chlorate in the matchstick head to produce enough heat to ignite antimony trisulphide and start the combustion.

Ques: Which compounds are used in matchstick in the earlier time?

Ans: A mixture of antimony trisulphide, potassium chlorate and white phosphorus with some glue and starch was applied on the head of a match made of suitable wood. When struck against a rough surface, white phosphorus got ignited due to the heat of friction. This started the combustion of the match. However, white phosphorus proved to be dangerous both for the workers involved in the manufacturing of matches and for the users.

 

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