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The Uber Match

(As featured in the Setpember 2011 issue of Practically Seeking)

Uber Matches

The ability to get a fire going can be the difference between life and death. That is why I always have multiple means of creating one at my disposal.

The Uber Match is simple to make, and when done correctly is reliable, along with being highly water and wind  resistant. Why you would NOT have a couple of these in ANY outdoor kit I cannot fathom!

Though traditionally made using strike anywhere matches (yes, you can still find them in this post 9-11 world) they can also be made using strike-on-the-box varieties — just make sure you have the box striker as well or you are screwed.
An Uber Match will burn for 5-7 minutes easily, produces a much larger flame than a standard match and gives off far more heat.

A major trick to making sure your Uber Matches will really work well is to allow a little bit of space between the matches and just below the match head.

Now onward with the process!

Step-by-step Instructions on How to Make an Uber Match:

  1. Take out 4 matches, preferably of the strike-anywhere variety. (These are the ones that have a white tip on the red match-head.)
  2. 4 Strike-anywhere matches

  3. Completely unroll a regular cotton ball, and then split it in half, length-wise. (One cotton ball makes two Uber Matches.)
  4. Unroll a cotton ball Split unrolled cotton lengthwise

  5. Melt paraffin wax (our preferred wax for this and available at your grocery or hardware store) or any other type of wax (old candles, crayons, beeswax, etc) in a small container over low heat. An old tuna can works great for this and will sit easily on the stove burner.
  6. Parafin, candle and bees wax Melt wax over low heat

  7. While your wax is melting, take one of your matches and, starting just below the tip (make sure you can see a short bit of the match stick) wrap around the stick one complete turn with the cotton. Take your second match place it up against the first, then wrap the cotton once completely around the two together.
  8. Wrap cotton around one match Lay 2nd match alongside 2 wrapped matches

  9. Add your third and then fourth matches in the same manner, wrapping the cotton around all three, then all four matches, creating a square, not a line. This way of wrapping creates necessary air space between the matches to allow for easy ignition. (Remember fire requires fuel, heat and oxygen to establish combustion.)
  10. Lay in 3rd match Wrap all three with cotton Lay 4th match Wrap all four matches with cotton

  11. After all 4 matches have been wrapped together continue to wrap the remaining cotton around all 4 sticks until you have completely covered the match sticks all the way down to the bottom. Strive to make the wrap nice and even all the way down, as if you were wrapping a mummy for Halloween.
  12. Continue wrapping cotton down match sticks Wrap the cotton all the way down Keep wrap smooth and even

  13. Roll the now completely wrapped matches tightly between your fingers to really squeeze down the cotton wrapping.
  14. Press cotton into shape Ready to dip

  15. Give the BASE of your Uber Match a quick dip in the melted wax and allow to cool and harden slightly. (For the sake of domestic relations, lay down a piece of aluminum foil for a cooling station — wax can be very difficult to remove from counters, stove tops and plates!)
  16. Dip base into wax Shake off excess wax Allow to cool

  17. Once the base is cool enough to handle, give the top of your matches a quick dip in the wax far enough that the entire Uber Match is now completely coated in wax. Set it aside and allow to cool. When the wax is cool enough to handle but still warm enough to mold, use your fingers to press the wax-covered cotton into the matches and shape each Uber Match to a nice smooth cylinder.
  18. Dip the tip end to completely cover with wax Allow to cool slightly Press into smooth cylinder

  19. After the wax has hardened on all your Uber Matches, place several into an old pill bottle (along with the box striker if you have been forced to use strike-on-box types) and put this in with your camping gear/emergency kit/GO Bag. Allow the remaining wax to cool in the tuna can and it will be ready to melt again for your next set of matches!
  20. Keep in pill bottle for storage Ready to store in emergency kit Leave wax in tin for later use

  21. These Uber Matches will strike even when wet. And be careful, they have a much bigger flame than a regular match!
  22. Dipping Uber Match in water Ready to strike anywhere Lit Uber Match


Until next time, enjoy the comfortable weather of Fall,
and Have Fun!

Want to learn more about being prepared for an emergency?
Come on out to our Preparing For Emergencies: House Kits, GO Bags & Being Ready When the Lights Go Out workshop
and check out our  What Am I Preparing For??? and The GO Bag DVDs!