If you carry matches as your primary means of starting a fire, I highly advise rethinking that strategy. While some outdoorsmen seem to think it’s more “outdoorsy” to carry matches, in a survival situation, do you want to look like Bear Grylls, or do you want to stay alive?
While my number on choice of fire starting tools is usually a lighter – again I’m concerned with staying alive not looking cool – I do think carrying backups to that lighter is extremely important. If matches are one of those backups, they need to be waterproof.
You can purchase commercial waterproof matches, or you can save some money and make your own.
Making waterproof matches
Method 1: Candle Wax or paraffin wax
An ordinary box of strike anywhere matches can be turned into a box of waterproof survival matches with an ordinary household candle.
- Melt some candle wax or paraffin wax in a pot. If the candle is already inside a glass jar, the safest method would be to leave the candle in the jar and let the wick slowly melt the wax.
- Dip the match heads into the liquid wax and coat the entire match head.
- Let the wax harden over the match head.
- When needed, the wax can be picked off the head before striking the match
Method 2: Fingernail Polish
With a small bottle of fast drying nail polish you can easily coat your match heads, making them completely waterproof.
- Paint the match head with the nail polish, coating it a little past the head on to the wood stick.
- Let the matchstick dry completely.
- Matches coated with the nail polish don’t need any kind of prep to light them. They should be ready to strike without having to pick off the polish.
Method 3: Turpentine
Turpentine is another easy way to make your matches resistant to water damage.
- Pour 2 to 3 large tablespoons of Turpentine into a small glass jar.
- Place the matches head down into the jar and let sit for 5- 10 minutes.
- Remove the matches and let them dry for 20 minutes.