The secret of an ordinary match
Are matches magnetic?
Observe safety rules when working with fire.
- neodymium magnet;
Use a neodymium magnet and use it to test whether some matches are magnetic. First, check a whole, unburnt match – it shouldn’t respond. You will, however, find that burnt matches are magnetized. Divide the burnt match into two parts and note that only the match head reacts to the magnet. The unburnt match head may also be magnetized.
Matches consist of a wooden stick and a head. A match head usually contains:
- substances that produce oxygen when heated such as potassium chloride KClO₃ and potassium dichromate(VI) K₂Cr₂O₇.
- substances that ignite easily in the presence of oxygen, normally sulfur and glue of natural origin.
- substances that control ignition temperature and color like iron(III) oxide, ground glass, zinc oxide, pyrolusite MnO₂.
Iron(III) oxide and pyrolusite MnO₂ have weak magnetic properties. An unburnt match head is therefore weakly magnetized. As the match burns, the iron(III) oxide interacts with the other components and turns into iron(II) oxide, which possesses stronger magnetic properties. The burnt matches are thus attracted to the magnet.*
*The presence and composition of this substance depends on the manufacturer