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How to Make Waterproof Matches – 3 Easy DIY Waterproofing Methods

Last Updated: July 18, 2022

Any prepper or backpacker knows that having the right tools to start a fire is an absolute necessity when you’re out in the wild.

If you opt for matches, it’s critical that you have a way to protect them. 

Knowing how to waterproof standard matches is a useful skill for the well-prepared and economic outdoorsman.

There are three common methods for protecting your matches against water.

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No matter which method you go with it’s best to start with strike-anywhere matches.

They can be lit against any rough surface, whereas strike-on-box matches require the phosphorous strip found on the matchbox to ignite. 

Learn how to make waterproof matches and never worry about your firestarter getting wet again!

DIY Waterproof Matche Supplies

  • Strike-anywhere matches
  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Turpentine
  • Small metal or glass container
  • Nail polish
  • Candle(s)
  • Small container for storage

How to Make DIY Waterproof Matches

DIY Waterproof Matches

Waterproof matches are indeed an essential addition to your outdoor supplies. A bug out bag won’t be complete without a fire starter gear.

Ordinary matches don’t mix well with wet conditions and being in the outdoors. You can slip and fall into a puddle, getting your backpack wet.

Your tackle box can be knocked into the water by a big fish you reeled in. Fortunately, there is a simple solution — waterproof matches.

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You can buy water-resistant matches, but they can be expensive.

Good thing there are simple ways to make your own effective wind and waterproof matches that won’t take much of your time and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Let's begin with the first one...

1. DIY Waterproof Matche With Wax

DIY Waterproof Matche With Wax

Wax is a good waterproof coating for matches. It creates a protective layer that does not allow water or any other elements to get through.

Striking the match will peel away the coating of the wax and allows the matches to ignite.

Materials:

  • Candle or candle wax
  • Matches
  • A heat source for melting the wax (fire or stove)
  • A disposable container that is heat-resistant
  • Hair dryer
  • Newspaper

Step 1: Melt the Wax

If you’re using a candle, let it burn for a bit until you see a pool of wax around the wick. If you’re using old candles, put the wax in a container and put it over your heat source.

Just make sure you won’t use something you need to keep because the wax doesn’t wash off easily.

Step 2: Dip the Matches

As soon as the wax melts, dip the match head in the melted wax. Coat the matches thoroughly and allow them to harden a little, and then remove them after a minute or so.

Do not overdo it because the excess wax will make it difficult for the matches to light and the striking surface will wear off fast.

Step 3: Dry the Matches

Place the matches on the edge of a table or on the matchbox with the head suspended. Don’t forget to put the newspaper underneath to keep your floor safe from falling wax.

Also, you can use the hair dryer to make the drying part a bit faster.

Now let's look at the easiest and quickest way to waterproof matches...

2. DIY Waterproof Matche With Turpentine

DIY Waterproof Matche With Turpentine

Using turpentine is the quickest, safest, and easiest way to make your survival matches water-resistant.

You can purchase turpentine in your local hardware or art supply stores.

Before working with turpentine, protect your work surface with newspaper and make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area.

Turpentine is a toxic, flammable paint thinner.

The fumes aren’t great to breathe, and it can easily ruin wood or painted surfaces.

Materials:

  • Turpentine
  • Matches
  • Cup or glass jar
  • Hair dryer
  • Newspaper

Step 1: Pour Turpentine into a Small Container

First, put the turpentine in a container (cup or glass jar) and be sure to place the newspaper underneath the container. Turpentine is a product normally used in finish-stripping and it can damage wood surfaces.


Step 2: Soak the Head

Dip the head of the matches into the turpentine and let it sit there for five minutes. It will soak through the head and the stem and permeate it.

Step 3: Dry the Matches

After taking the matches out, use the hair dryer to dry them out, or you can simply spread them on the newspaper and wait until it dries naturally.

These matches will remain waterproof for several months if treated this way.

Another great way to make your backpacking matches waterproof is by using fingernail polish...

3. DIY Waterproof Matche with Nail Polish

DIY Waterproof Matche with Nail Polish

The nail polish method is very easy, except for the challenge of choosing a color (what goes best with forest pine?).

Any nail polish will work, though it’s best to avoid ones that have glitter. The glitter can cause matches to burn unevenly and spark.

The nail polish method helps the flame burn steadily, and it can withstand a good amount of wear and tear as well.

Materials:

  • Fingernail polish (choose between clear and colored varieties)
  • Hair dryer
  • Newspaper

Step 1: Dip the Head of the Matches

Dip the head of the match and a part of the stick into the nail polish bottle. You can also simply paint the tip of the match.

Put just the right amount of fingernail polish, so you can still spark them when you need to. Make sure to do this over a sheet of a newspaper because they can make a mess on your table, couch, or carpet.

Step 2: Let It Dry

Set the head of the matches hanging over the edge of the table or its box and let them dry. It may take some time to dry so you have to be patient.

You can also blow dry them if you want to speed up the drying process.

Go ahead and give it a go!

These waterproof matches are a revolutionary invention that became an essential addition to our fire starter supplies. It’s a good backup for lighters, but again, they can be a bit pricey.

So if you want to save money, you can easily make a box of waterproof matches in no time. The methods suggested above are proven and tested to be effective.

Now that you've made your waterproof matches let's look at how you can store them...

DIY Waterproof Matche Storage

To store your waterproof matches, use a rigid, small container like an old film canister or empty spice bottle.

Every extra layer of protection ensures that you don’t get left out on the trail without a dry match.

If you aren’t able to use strike-anywhere matches, make sure to include a phosphorous strip from a matchbox in your container.

This is all great but...

Sometimes you don't have time to waterproof your matches before SHTF...

In that case you should opt for a Everstryke Match – This is a great fire starter. You can never have enough means to start a fire. The Everystryke Match can start a fire anywhere even when wet. 

Do you know other ways on how to make waterproof matches? Share it with us in the comments below!

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