Waterproof matches have been on the market for a long time. They have some advantages but I will tell you right now that my opinion is that they are a good backup for a lighter but not a replacement. For many situations, a good lighter is just not something to pass over for easy and reliable firestarting. Personally I think that a person should have multiple ways to start a fire no matter what.
I did some research to find what is out there in terms of waterproof matches.
Advantages of Waterproof Matches
- Contains some wood so flame has a chance
- Are often stored in a small container that will allow extra room for some tinder
- No fuel required and no fear of fuel leakage over time.
Advantages of Lighters
More waterproof than a waterproof match in my opinion. I can wash a BIC lighter and it will still work just fine. Waterproof matches are not going to hold up as well as a lighter if exposed to moisture.
- Inexpensive for the number of lights you get
- Very reliable
- Easy to use even with the more modern childproof features
The right type of case makes a huge difference
There are so many cool little cases out there to keep waterproof matches in. Here is an example of a small metal one I bought for $4 at our local prepping supply store. It holds a few matches and offers a very tight seal. You could also just put a few matches in there and add a little bit of tinder to facilitate an easier fire starting experience. Plastic cases are also very common. Most of the good cases feature a rubber gasket seal to keep out water even if the case is submerged.
Would I trust old waterproof matches?
I think that any prep that you have put back for a long time should probably be inspected sometimes. Strike a match occasionally to see if things are still good to go, especially if the storage conditions have been questionable.
Pre-SHTF I will always say a Bic is best.
I realize that circumstances can change but during even mediocre times, a good old fashioned BIC lighter is going to serve you well. Have some waterproof matches, a ferro rod, and other things in your kit so you can get a fire going no matter what but save yourself a lot of hassle by having some inexpensive BIC lighters put back in your preps.
I realize during a long emergency, the supply of BIC will eventually run out but if you put back a lot of lighters now, it will be a long time before you have to worry about all that.
Any fire starting supplies will be good trading material in a post-collapse world. Be smart and have a lot of different methods on hand and the knowledge to use them. It may look easy starting fires on a Youtube video but the reality is that any method requires some level of practice to master. You need to be able to start a fire during a time when you may be weak or shaky. This means knowing how to do it well when you are at your prime. It is entirely unreasonable to expect yourself or anyone in your group to perform well under stressful circumstances any skill that they failed to do during good times.
Waterproof matches are great for stashing
Since matches are pretty inexpensive and easy to use, they have potential for stashing at various locations and for utilizing in a lot of different firestarting kits.
Remember to use matches wisely.
I have no problem raising my hand when it comes to admitting that at times I have used a lot more matches than I should have getting a fire going. When you are using waterproof matches during an emergency you will need to be more careful and less wasteful. Make sure you have a lot of good tinder and small fuel to aid in getting your fire going. All too often while you are trying to find these items, your fire will go out. If you have others with you and help gathering tinder then it may not be too much of a problem.
This waterproof case includes 15 matches that measure 4 inches long and they are rated to burn for up to 30 seconds. For somone that just wants some heavy-duty waterproof matches and case to throw back, Zippo is going to be hard to beat in terms of quality. The case features a sealed strike pad. Each match is made to stay lit as long as there is phosphorous still present. These are very heavy duty matches for extreme situations.
This is a good deal for those that want to just buy a lot of waterproof matches to distribute in different kits and spaces. You get a total of 50 matches so you could put 5 matches at 10 different stash points.
This 10 pk of 45 matches will stock you up on waterproof matches. I think 450 waterproof matches is a bit of a stash for anyone even if the matches maybe a little smaller than some waterproof matches out there.
Choosing your own case
You can definitely use your own case to store waterproof matches in but you need to consider just how waterproof your choice really is. The specially designed waterproof match containers always have O-ring seals and similar to keep out even slight water intrusion. It doesn’t take much water to ruin any matches. Choose containers that can be sealed very well. You can buy cases too and distribute out matches and tinder as desired.
These screw-on metal cases could be useful for a lot of things, including stashing waterproof matches. The screw-on cap and O-ring ensures that water is not going to be a problem.
Some people make fire starting kits in Altoids tins. I would advise at least taping around the tin as an extra waterproofing measure.
Some storage boxes have more than a single function. This box is a signaling mirror and has a firestarter flint built-in. I would add waterproof matches and some fine tinder to the mix for a more well rounded compact fire starting kit.
This waterproof match container is also a survival whistle and a compass. This is a good survival tool to throw in a gift bag for someone or to stash in a get home bag. The bright color makes it easy to see when out in the bush. This is a fun little piece of survival gear for kids too. They can stash things in the waterproof compartment, practice with the compass, and use the whistle to make a racket.
Matches are just part of the equation.
Before you ever strike a match, you should have a decent pile of tinder and small debris to fuel your fire. Don’t waste your time until you have what you need to keep it rolling. Even if you are really cold, take the time to do your fire right because the last thing you want is for it to go out fast.
Waterproof matches are a lot more expensive than regular matches. They are not something that you want to use regularly. They are an emergency tool.
To make waterproof matches at home you will need a box of strike-anywhere matches and some paraffin or beeswax. Melt the wax and dip the ends of matches in the wax briefly. This will waterproof the end. You will have to scrape the wax off to use but it will make the matches waterproof.
The best thing you can do is have a bunch of different fire starting methods available to you. Some methods are fun to practice but would be scary to try to achieve in a life or death situation when minutes make all the difference. Put back a lot of quality disposable lighters but have a kit with a ferro rod, some waterproof matches, and any other favored fire starting method.
Just make sure that if you are putting back something, that you know how to use it. A ferro rod is great for starting a fire if you have practiced and can reliably get a spark. Take the time to know your preps. It will be fun and you can have the peace of mind of knowing you can do what is needed.
I am including these “permanent matches” because they are an interesting concept. Basically they are a wick that is kept soaked in lighter fluid. You strike it on the side of the container to get a strong flame. I would be curious to try this out. It is a bit of a hybrid between a match and a lighter. It does require lighter fluid though so that is something to consider.
For reliability and expense, it is hard to beat a Bic. On the other hand you may like a classic Zippo lighter. I personally do not have enough experience with USB lighters to make a judgment call as to how well they work but I suspect they have their limitations. Many people are going to want a variety of lighters stashed at some point.
I throw a 5 pack of these in the cart whenever I see a good deal. The two packs are sometimes a good buy but it is usually the larger packs that offer the best savings. You can buy a 50 pk display like those you see at gas stations but I don’t care for the packaging myself. It is more convenient to have smaller packs of 2-5 lighters. For trading purposed during a SHTF situation or long emergency, having a few of the sealed singles or 2 pks may be a good idea. Items in wrappers will be valued because it is a sign that something has not been tampered with.
I was not familiar with this brand until I started writing a lot of preparedness posts. They are marketed as being very inexpensive refillable plastic lighters. Even if they are only good for a few refills they would be worth it to consider stashing back. Have you refilled a single Clipper lighter multiple times? Please share your experience in the comments so we can learn together!
For those that want a strong refillable, you can get a plain Zippo lighter for around $10. The price goes up a lot if you want any fancy decoration but for most of us, the plain classic silver or brass color is just fine. Just make sure to put back a reasonable amount of fluid and some flints. I would not just rely on a Zippo either. Lighters break and malfunction. Always have a few different lighter options on hand even if you have a favorite.
Don’t even bother putting back super cheap and junky lighters!
How many of us have bought the cheap lighters that are plastic, brightly colored, and less than half the cost of a Bic? Well, I am guilty of it too but it has been many years. They are not a good deal because you never get all your use out of them. Chances are they will break while you still have half of your lighter fluid to go.
Don’t waste time putting back garbage. Get decent lighters even if you have to pay a $1 each or more. A tool is only good if it actually works when you need it to. $20 for a 100 lighters is a terrible deal if they are garbage.
Do you have waterproof matches put back for emergencies? Have you ever been in a situation where you had to use them to start a fire? Any tips for getting the most out of this type of match?