Matches To Go

by Sheena Kohlmeyer

As a wilderness traveler and advocate of being prepared, I appreciate those small boxes of ‘strike anywhere’ matches. They’re inexpensive yet can be life-saving if one’s vehicle breaks down beyond cell reception. They’re in my camping gear, kayaking bin, emergency evac go-bag, bedside table, and in my kitchen ‘everything’ drawer. I also keep a box of these matches in my vehicle. In the vehicle is where it’s especially important to pay attention to the amount of matches remaining in the box. In my world, travel bins and tins with wooden matches have a qualifying feature: matches are secured.

Years ago a friend showed me the burn scar caused by a fiery eruption in his shirt pocket while driving on a pitted backcountry road. He’d tucked a box of a few remaining ‘strike anywhere’ matches into his shirt pocket as he headed down a bumpy road. He had no idea the friction from the constant jarring could shake those match-heads enough to ignite them against each other. He recovered thankfully, and his story can help others. I certainly ensure my matches ‘to go’ cannot jostle. No accidental fireballs on my person or in my vehicle! Hopefully not yours either. So let’s keep them snug.

Transfer matches out of your homestead supply into the travel matchboxes to help keep those boxes full. Using an elastic band around the box keeps it handy for securing matches together into a bundle as their numbers dwindle and bumpy roads are ahead. Then you can rest assured that no matter how rough that backcountry road, your bound matches will not rub against each other and ignite. That’s my little tip today to help us all stay safe.

Secure Matches, Safe Candles

by Karen Whitworth
by Karen Whitworth

Here’s a great idea for storing matches. Starting with a small, 1-cup Mason jar, use the lid to trace a circle on the back of a sheet of sandpaper. Cut it out, place it on top of the rim lid and then screw the lid ring on and voila! It’s a secure and waterproof match station. To have a match opening, do what Lauren at The Burlap Bag did, and cut a small opening for shaking a match out. In this case she lines the sandpaper with thick cardstock to help the lid stay firm for match striking. Brilliant!

Store candles nearby and you’re prepared for a romantic evening, a soothing bath, or to light up your home during a power outage. Knowing where to find the candles, and some matches to light them with, is another one those little tips that keeps things calm and stress levels low, especially in the event of an outage when everything suddenly goes dark. And the best healthy option for our candles used indoors (or in a car for winter safety) is beeswax candles with lead-free wicks.


If you wonder why it’s essential to keep candles in your car in areas with temperatures below freezing, it has been proven that the heat generated by one burning candle and the body heat from even one person keeps the air in the cab of the vehicle above the freezing point. This is a potentially life saving tip. I never travel without being prepared for an unforeseen event that might cause me to be stuck without a running vehicle (and the heater) and too far from buildings to walk. Staying safely in the car and waiting for help is the best plan in these situations. But while you wait, stay warm with a lit candle or two.

For safety’s sake, be aware that having loosely stored matches shaking and jiggling in a container (such as when traveling in a car) is a dangerous idea. Friction can cause unintentional ignition, so if you’ll be keeping them in your car with your emergency candles, secure the match sticks together into a bundle with a rubber band or string before placing them in this striking jar.

Lauren is witty at her and hubby Josiah’s great site The Burlap Bag. About this project she writes: It’s a super easy project. And the mason jar is perfect for taking camping or for just lookin’ pretty. Basically: put STRIKE ANYWHERE matches in a jar. Strike-on-the-box matches won’t work. Cut the sandpaper to the shape of the mason jar. (We put a firm piece of paper under it so the sandpaper doesn’t push down when a match is struck.) Of course, we had to take it one step further by creating a hole in the lid so you can easily get the matches out! Who wants to unscrew a lid every time you want to light a candle? I sure don’t. Yeah, I get that tired by the end of the day. Sue me.  Fun humour and a great idea. Thanks Lauren!