Watch this close-up, super-slow-motion video of a match head burning and get an incredible view of the chemical reaction that takes place.
The slow-motion production team at UltraSlo shot footage of a burning match at 4,000 fps (frames per second) using a Phantom Miro 4 camera with a bellows mounted on the lens.
When a match burns, it undergoes a chemical change. Matches use sulfur, phosphate and a friction agent held together by a binding agent. With a match, heat ignites the phosphorous on the head of the match.
To keep the fire going, the match needs more oxygen than is available from the air alone. The initial heat from burning phosphorous breaks down potassium chlorate in the match head, which releases oxygen. Together, the oxygen and sulfur burn slowly, igniting the wood of the match for a flame that lasts long enough to see by, light a candle or ignite a camp fire.