Picture of The Remote Match

I recently had a need to "magically" light a bonfire at a Cub event. Other recent campfires had been dramatic, but obvious in their mechanism (burning things sliding down a wire or people pushing flaming brands into the fire). I wanted something more subtle, that the Cubs wouldn't notice happening. Something I could do from a distance.


So, I turned to the electric match.

As I describe here, the electric match is quite versatile - as well as lighting campfires, you can use it to precisely trigger pyrotechnics, stage effects or model rockets.

Please be aware, though, of your local laws - in the UK, home-made pyrotechnics, solid rocket fuel or explosive mixtures are absolutely banned without special licenses.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

Electric matches are surprisingly easy to make, all you need is thin wire, a match, and some electricity.

When you research electrical matches, they will tell you that you need special nichrome wire, designed to heat up quickly., when really all you need is something thin. The more electricity you have available, the thicker the wire you can get away with.

The wire I used was a single strand from some multi-core electrical wire, the sort of stuff you buy for home electronics. I stripped it, and pulled out individual strands a few centimetres long.

You will also need tape - cheap stuff is fine, and it's better if it is clear, so can check your wiring before using the match.

Tools-wise, just use whatever you are comfortable with for cutting and stripping wire.

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Kiteman (author) 1 year ago

I am, of course, entering this in a few contests.

If you can see the "vote" banner up at the top, I'd appreciate a click or three.

I will be back to vote. Banner not up yet.

Kiteman (author)  Cats Science Club1 year ago

Thank you!

Voted! Even if it was against our instructables lol Good luck!

Kiteman (author)  Cats Science Club1 year ago

Thank you!

buck22171 month ago

Ideal for all your arson needs while you are establishing an alibi across town!!

Kiteman (author)  buck22171 month ago

Um, yeh, I guess...

dmagryta1242 months ago

Hi Kiteman! Nice instructable. Very handy for 4th of July fireworks. I found that a bit of wire removed from the inside an old twist tie works quite nicely. I coiled and bent it in such a way that it grips a fuse just barely enough to fall away once the fireworks fuse ignites. I didn't need a match. I used a very high current 7.4v battery from a R/C boat, but a 9v battery should work too. I acquired the twist tie from the grocery store - it came with a bag dispensed to carry fresh vegetables.

Kiteman (author)  dmagryta1242 months ago

That's a good idea, it's nice stiff wire.

(You don't need a match because the fuse is nice and flammable.)

Edbed2 months ago
This is great.
Kiteman (author)  Edbed2 months ago

Thank you!

ok now the tough question what are some good ways to make that as small as possible?

if placed directly against the match contacts would a cell battery produce enough power to ignite the match(es) obviously i dont intend to keep said battery/cellphone.

Kiteman (author)  daniel.gordon.96742274 months ago

Short answer: I don't know, and I'm not sure I want to know - batteries are not good things to put in fires, as they can explode.

nkrishna36 months ago
is it okay if we use 35gauge copper wire

Hi nkrishna3,

Since you got it working, I have a newbie question -- how do you attach the long wires (in the picture, the long yellow wires coated in plastic) to the single-strand, uncoated wire that's wrapped around the matchstick head? Since that step is missing from the instructable.

The first time I tried doing something like that, I just hand-twisted the strands from one wire together with the strands from the other wire, but that didn't work because the connection was too loose and introduced too much resistance. I got the connection working using some little plastic knobs from Radio Shack where you insert the ends from the two different wires, and twist the knobs tightly to form a secure connection.

I assume the other common way to do it is with a soldering iron.

How did you do it?

Kiteman (author)  bennetthaselton5 months ago

Obsessed much?

Dude, give it a rest, it's bad enough you going on about this in the forums!

Kiteman (author)  nkrishna36 months ago

That should be fine - all it has to do is get hot when you put a current through it.

nkrishna3 Kiteman5 months ago
thanks for your reply.. Instead of adding the whole matchstick I made small balls filled with matchstick powder,, like a lollipop I was really amazing & It worked within 67seconds.thank you kiteman
sorry" it was really amazing"
Kiteman (author)  nkrishna35 months ago

Hehe, that's great, thanks for sharing!

Mr AbAk5 months ago
Truly Cool and Awesome idea...
Kiteman (author)  Mr AbAk5 months ago

Thank you!

natciqzxc26 months ago

cool :D

Kiteman (author)  natciqzxc26 months ago

Thank you!

JM199910 months ago

Would a 9 volt battery work?

Kiteman (author)  JM199910 months ago

It should.

TamS11 year ago

Very cool effect. What was the reaction from the amassed cubs?

Kiteman (author)  TamS11 year ago

They weren't so impressed as the parents...

Bosun Rick1 year ago

What about using 'book' matches? there's usually 20 or so matches in one of those, and a single wire ran through them to start a fire.

Kiteman (author)  Bosun Rick1 year ago

Yes, that would work.

riff raff1 year ago

No model rockets in the U.K.? Tyranny! :)

Kiteman (author)  riff raff1 year ago

We can have model rockets, but we have to buy the motors from companies like Estes. We can't make our own fuel.

I've done the same using steel wool. It cuts down on the prep time and can be lit with a series of 9-volt batteries. Really fun to do. Thanks for the great upload!

Kiteman (author)  jweinstein jr1 year ago

Thanks for the comment!

I've done the same using steel wool. It cuts down on the prep time and can be lit with a series of 9-volt batteries. Really fun to do. Thanks for the great upload!

Nate_Bro1 year ago

"I was unable to get the appropriate legal permissions from some of the parents involved"

that is truly sad, I mean its not a beach outing with kids running around in bikini's (I could see that) its a dang camp fire! I imagine it was quite the site! :)

Kiteman (author)  Nate_Bro1 year ago

No, it was my fault - I forgot to get the appropriate forms signed.

If we were using the film & images within the group, or within scouting, there wouldn't have been a problem. Using the images beyond that isn't about inappropriate images, it's about Child Protection (sometimes children are being kept safe from certain individuals knowing their whereabouts) and Data Protection (adult permission is required before data is transferred outside the UK, and Instructables' servers are most certainly outside the UK).

Toga_Dan1 year ago

Nicely done. I imagine that keeping the flame going was the trickiest bit.

On your video, I see you using a baking tray under tests. If you need something non-conductive for stuff like this, try a scrap of drywall. The surface may char, but it wont ignite.

Kiteman (author)  Toga_Dan1 year ago

It's a very old tray, so warped that it only touches the surface beneath at about three points, so there's a nice, insulating air-gap.

I found that the flame stayed alight if I used three or more matches. To be sure, I placed them head down, do that the rising flame stayed in as much contact with fuel as possible.

mworrall1 year ago

Does it matter what type of match you use?

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