new Delhi34 minutes agoAuthor: Sanjeev Kumar
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How does your kitchen stove burn? It must have been lit by a lighter or a match. Don’t you feel that in today’s changing times people have started forgetting matchsticks.
We have become so used to lighters that we do not even think of matches. You and I may have forgotten, but on December 12, 2022, the echo of extinguished matchstick was suddenly heard in the Parliament of the country. When Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi raised the issue of matchbox industry in the Lok Sabha.
Kanimozhi said that the match box industry in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu provides employment to more than 10 lakh people, of whom 90 per cent are women.
Kanimozhi is a Lok Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu and has also been a minister in the UPA government.
The price of red phosphorus used on match sticks and tin cans has increased from Rs 400 to Rs 1000 per quintal. At the same time, the prices of raw materials have also increased.
This has had a profound impact on the matchbox industry. The government was also demanded to ban the illegal import of cheap, illegal and smuggled lighters. today ‘leisure sunday’ I talk only on this match.
Kanimozhi said that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has also written a letter to the central government in this regard. He told the central government that smuggling of ‘burn, throw’ lighters should be banned and also demanded that the prices of match raw material be kept under control.
In ancient times, fire was lit by rubbing stones. But this method was very difficult for humans. Because it was very difficult to light a fire during rain or severe cold and snow. Relief came from this when a matchstick hit a person’s hand. Matchbox was such a wonderful thing that brought the fire to the fist and pocket of a human being.
A variety of matchbox covers that can be reminiscent of the matchbox practice and era in India.
Come, now let’s tell the journey of matchbox which had revolutionized the world-
Pieces of wood were used like matches 5000 years ago
The history of matches is very old. More than 5,000 years ago, in ancient Egypt, small pieces of pine wood dipped in sulfur were used as matches. However, the modern matchbox was developed only about 200 years ago.
A mixture of antimony trisulfide, potassium chlorate and white phosphorus, mixed with some gum and starch, was applied to the head of a wooden match stick, and the heat produced by rubbing it ignited the white phosphorus.
In this way the Egyptians used to make matchsticks by applying sulfur to one end of pine wood. This photo is only symbolic.
This would have started burning the match stick. But white phosphorus proved to be dangerous both to the workers in the match industry and to those who used the matches.
Matchstick-like methods were used in China in 950 AD. The people of China used such sticks in which fire burning chemicals were used. But later this method could not take a systematic form.
Nowadays, only antimony trisulfide and potassium chlorate are attached to the tip of the match stick. Fine glass powder and a little red phosphorus are applied on the rubbing surface which is less dangerous. When a match stick is rubbed on a rough surface, some of the red phosphorus is converted into white phosphorus.
It rapidly reacts with the potassium chlorate on the tip of the matchstick, producing such heat that antimony trisulphide starts burning.
You will be surprised to know, the lighter which has made inroads in men’s pocket and women’s purse today, had once landed in the field before a small box of matches.
The lighter came before the match
Lighters were invented in 1823, a few years before matches. Then it was very big in size and difficult to use. That’s why it could not become popular among the people. Hydrogen gas was used for the lighter, which was first ignited by a spark through a chemical reaction.
The earliest lighters looked something like this, which later became more and more like matchboxes.
Such a lighter was created in 1823 by the efforts of the German chemist Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner (1780–1849).
Lighters gained popularity at the beginning of the 20th century when the more flammable naphthalene gas was used. After this, the Zippo lighter was introduced in 1932, which tried to reduce the importance of matches. But during this time the matchbox had increased its importance all over the world. However, the introduction of butane lighters in the 1950s made lighters even more popular.
The making of matchstick proved to be dangerous in the beginning.
The matchbox was invented in 1827. It was made by British scientist John Walker when he thought that why not give the world the fire that was lit by rubbing the stone in the form of a matchbox.
Even though John Walker’s invention proved to be dangerous at that time, but after some time this important work had revolutionized the world.
John Walker invented a match that would ignite when rubbed against a rough surface. But, this experiment proved to be very dangerous. Many people got scorched by it.
In fact, antimony sulphide, potassium chlorate and starch were first used on matchsticks. Sandpaper was taken for rubbing. The result was that as soon as the match stick was rubbed on the sandpaper, a small explosion took place and burning smelled.
Indians started production after 100 years of making matches
In 1832, in France, instead of antimony sulfide, phosphorus was used on matchsticks. This removed the smell that comes out when the matchstick is burnt. But, now the smoke coming out of it has become very poisonous and dangerous. In 1855 Sweden Tubker prepared a safe match by mixing other chemicals, which we are still using today.
Japanese immigrants made matches in Kolkata
For the first time in India, Japanese immigrants started making matches in Kolkata in 1910. But since the Second World War started. Because of this, the matchbox business shifted to Tamil Nadu. In the year 1927, the Nadar brothers started the production of match boxes in Sivakasi. Since then till date Tamil Nadu has remained the stronghold of match box industry.
African blackwood is the best wood for matchsticks
Match sticks are made from many types of woods. The best matchsticks are made from African blackwood. However, some companies use fast-burning wood to make more profit.
In India, sticks are made from woods like poplar, white pine
Indian matchsticks are made from the wood of a variety of trees, but are most commonly made from the wood of white pine and aspen trees. In India, the wood of a tree called Poplar is also considered very good for making matchsticks.
The practice of planting poplar trees in India increased because its wood was used to make matchsticks.
This Diwali, there was a lot of matchstick gun
For the first time in this year’s Diwali, the match stick gun was also used a lot. There are many videos of match stick gun on YouTube that children are very fond of. Match stick guns are easily available on online shopping sites Amazon, Flipkart.
Matchstick guns in many designs and colors appeared in the market on the festival of Diwali. It was bought a lot online and offline.
World Matchbox Day disappeared due to World Health Day
World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7th April. But do you know that Matchbox Day is also celebrated on 7th April which is associated with John Walker, the inventor of Matchbox. He recorded the first sale of matchsticks in his ledger on 7 April 1827.
Those who collect items related to matches are called Felumenists.
People who keep different types of match boxes, matchsticks, books or match covers are called phillumenists.
Matchbox lighters, matchbox gift hampers, matchbox calendars are just a few of the many items that philumenists love to own.
Renowned Indian philumenist Shreya Katuri has been working on the Matchbox Art Collection for the last 7 years. Shreya, who has studied in America, has also done a workshop on ‘The Story of Matchbox Art’. Shreya, a resident of Delhi, has created a page on Instagram named @artonabox and is engaged in creating awareness about matchbox art culture.
In an interview, Shreya had told that there have been constant changes regarding art on matchsticks.
Earlier, national movements were depicted on matchsticks, but now with the new printing techniques, digitization has started. While earlier hand made national flags or photos of animals could be seen. Now you can see photos and monograms of modern day brands like Apple, Microsoft, Honda cars.
Matchbox used in songs to taunt the government
Mehak Malhotra of Giggling Monkey Studio has created amazing animated designs focusing on matchbox art which lyricist and singer Raghav Mittal has used brilliantly in his videos. Meat’s songs have also become very popular for taunting the government through Matchbox.
Bhishma tank model was made in 6 days with matchsticks
On January 15 this year, on the occasion of Army Day, Puri-based artist Shashwat Ranjan Sahu made an Indian Army tank Bhishma 90 out of matchsticks. Seeing which the enthusiasm of the soldiers and the general public had multiplied.
Shashwat took 6 whole days to make this tank with matchsticks and he has prepared this army tank with 2,256 matchsticks.
Guinness World Book Record for the largest matchstick in the world
Matchstick also has its own record. On November 27, 2004, a 20 ft 5 in (6.235 m) tall matchbox was manufactured in Estonia by Estonian Match Ltd. The credit for making this match is in the name of Jannus Ruben, a citizen of Estonia. He performed this match at the Ugla Theater in Viljandi.
The condition of the match box industry in the country is bad
Earlier matches were used to light the hearth, but due to the increasing use of gas lighters, matches have been replaced by gas lighters. There are different types of lighters available in the market today.
It costs more to make matches by mixing raw material and labor, due to which the use of matches has started decreasing. Earlier India used to export more matches to African countries, but now local brands are dominating there too. In such a situation, the matchbox industry is being affected in every way.
In the end, enjoy a tickling sentence too-
One friend asked the other – do you have matches? The friend took out the lighter and gave it. The friend asking for a match says – Hey brother! How will it scratch the ears?
It is possible that in the times to come, matches will remain an old-fashioned thing while battling with all kinds of lighters, and the coming generations will only be seen in pictures. If this industry is not taken care of, then the greatest human invention – the match that captures the fire – will be lost in its own fire amidst jokes, anecdotes and stories.