If you find yourself with a bunch of safety matches but no red-phosphorus strips upon which to strike them, remember your Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and don’t panic: mainly because you can always use sulfuric acid instead.
(In all seriousness, please don’t ever actually use sulfuric acid to light matches—it’s dangerous, and still quite mesmerizing to watch people like the host of NurdRage execute the whole process in crystal clear 4k anyway.) NurdRage, the YouTube channel “run by science nerds for science nerds…” combined two of the most (metaphorically) metal things in the world for their latest video: acid and fire. And it turns out that sulfuric acid, which is often found in cleaning products—and can do very serious damage to skin upon contact—is a stellar way to set a match ablaze.
The NurdRage host explains that most safety matches use potassium chlorate as an oxidizer, and when it comes into contact with sulfuric acid, they react to become chloric acid. The chloric acid is in turn “extremely reactive and unstable” and proceeds to react with the other chemicals in the match head, burning them and starting a fire. (The chemical reactions are written out by NurdRage below, for any curious chemistry nerds.)
If you’re mesmerized by this close-up footage of acid and fire (that lasts for nearly six minutes), you’re in luck, as this isn’t the first time NurdRage has combined the two. Just a month ago the channel showed us how to make Game of Thrones wildfire using sulfuric acid, with the glorious green glow and all. Also, NurdRage destroys hard drives with acid.
This channel really loves acid. You might say they eat it up.
What about you? Do you have a passion for watching things melt or burn thanks to sulfuric acid? Do you have any chemistry-inspired MacGyver tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments below!