Homemade Electronic Igniters




About: Hello, WorkshopWizard here! Have you ever asked yourself questions like: How does that work? Or how can I solve that? Join me as we explore the wonders of woodwork and the intriguing world of electronics. We...

Fireworks are just awesome! I have always loved a good firework display with lots of pretty colours and interesting patterns. The loud bangs, the smell of smoke in the air - fireworks are a great way to celebrate a wide range of events from parties to weddings. There's just one problem! Whoever has the job of lighting the fireworks has to ensure the safety of themselves and their spectators. When fireworks are lit with a match or lighter at close range there is always some danger. However, fear no more as the electronic igniter holds the solution. A safe way to ignite fireworks from a safe distance and get a better view of the show.

Check out the video of my results above.

These igniters are also suitable for firing hobby rockets from a safe distance.

You could create a large batch of igniters all at once and keep them handy in a small bag or tub.

So what are we waiting for? Let's get making!

Thank you so much for voting for me in the Safety Challenge. Thanks to your support I was a winner! Your support allows me to keep making great instructables. Don't forget to vote in Epilog Contest VII. Thanks!

Warning: Do this instructable at your own risk. Use common sense when using matches and be safe to minimize risk of fire. This instructable also uses sharp scissors, always be careful around sharp tools.

Note: The safest option is to attend a professionally organised firework display. However, if you chose to have fireworks at home, shop bought electronic igniters are best. The igniters in this instructable are not 100% safe however are a better option than hand lighting fireworks. Do not attempt to light fireworks if you are not confident or experienced. Always remember the firework safety code and have appropriate safety equipment in place just in case.

Find the firework safety code here: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Fireworksafety/Pages/Fi...

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Gather Parts

There are a few things required to make the Homemade Firework Igniters:

The following quantities will produce 1 igniter.

  • 1x Safety Match.
  • 1x 30 cm piece of stranded wire (solid copper wire is unsuitable as the separate strands have to be separated).
  • 1x Piece of tape (electrical tape or duct tape will do perfectly).
  • 1x 12 volt battery (or 2x 6 volt lantern battery).


  • 1x Long length of wire (if you are lighting fireworks remotely. It needs to be quite thick cable for carrying the high current over the long distance. I connected a couple of strands of thin wire together).
  • 1x Push to make switch (to make igniting a little easier).


Only one (maybe two) basic tool is required to complete this project:

  • Scissors (and wire cutters if you have them but if not then scissors will do fine).

Step 2: Prepare Wire

To complete this step you need the stranded wire and scissors.

Cut the piece of wire in half then remove the insulation off the ends of both the pieces. About 1 cm to 2 cm of exposed wire is sufficient.

Take one half of the wire and separate 1 single very thin metal strand from the rest (if it doesn't work then you may have to come back and increase the amount of strands of wire you use). Next, leave about a 3 mm gap and twist this single strand in with the other strands on the other half of the wire.

If you are confused, please see the diagram above.

Step 3: Complete the Igniter

Take the safety match and run the head of the match along the blade of the scissors to create a thin groove through which the thin strand of wire can run.

Be careful when doing this as there is a possibility that you may cut your fingers. Also, there is a small chance of igniting the match in your fingers if you run it along the blade quickly so be sure to do this slowly.

Next take the wire you prepared in the previous step and run the single thin strand through the groove that you have just created. The rest of the insulated wire should run down either side of the matchstick.

Afterwards, tape the two wires in place using electrical tape or duct tape to complete the igniter.

Again, if you get stuck then please see the pictures above.

Step 4: Prepare for Take Off!

When both wires of the igniter are connected to the battery the match should light. If not then follow the steps at the bottom. Polarity doesn't make a difference - you can connect either wire to either terminal of the battery. Make sure the match is not near anything flammable when you connect it to the battery.

How do they work:

  1. Current flows down the wire and through the thin strand.
  2. The thin strand of wire heats up due to the high resistance.
  3. The heat from the strand lights the match which ignites whatever it is connected to e.g. A fuse on a firework or hobby rocket.
  4. The thin strand heats up so much that it snaps much like the fuse wire in a fuse box does when too much current is drawn. This breaks the circuit.

If when the battery is connected, the match doesn't light but the strand of wire breaks then go back to step 2 and use two strands of wire instead of one. If it still doesn't work then try three strands (it took three strands before the wire started igniting my matches). You will need to experiment until the wire strands are able to light the match.

Step 5: 3...2...1...FIRE! and Troubleshooting


Congratulations! You've just created your very own electronic matches / igniters for setting off fireworks and hobby rockets safely.

You could create a large batch of igniters all at once and keep them handy in a small bag or tub.


Q. My matches don't light but the wire strand does snap. What do I do?

A. Go back to step 2 and use two strands of wire instead of one. If it still doesn't work then try three strands (it took three strands before the wire started igniting my matches).

Q. Even after three strands of wire the strands snap but the match doesn't light. What now?

A. There are a few things to try:

  1. Your matches are wet. Use different matches or let the others dry out.
  2. The strands of wire aren't close enough to the match to light it. Move the wire so that the strands run through the small groove made in step 3.
  3. You may need to try 4 strands depending on the overall quality / thickness of the cable your using.
  4. There is too much resistance in the rest of your circuit. Test the igniter directly onto the battery and if it ignites then use thicker cable in the rest of the circuit. If it doesn't ignite than try solution 1, 2 or 3.
  5. Your circuit isn't complete. Test the igniter directly on the battery and if it ignites then test for continuity in your circuit. If it doesn't ignite then try solutions 1, 2 and 3.

Q. When I try to re-use an igniter that I have already successfully used it doesn't light the match. Why?

A. Like most shop bought igniters, they are only single use and once spent cannot be re-used. This is for two reasons:

  1. The match has been burnt up.
  2. The thin wire strand has snapped so no more current will flow.

You will have to make and use a fresh igniter.

If you have trouble getting your igniters to work then please comment and I will do my best to help you out.

Happy Making!

Safety Challenge

Runner Up in the
Safety Challenge

Epilog Contest VII

Participated in the
Epilog Contest VII

Be the First to Share


    • Skateboard Contest

      Skateboard Contest
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    21 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Nice one! If you want to make a more permanent igniter, in which you'll only have to change the match-heads, try my way: make a coil with kanthal wire and put in the match. Connect it to a battery and it will get incadescent. This can be used lots of times. You just have to find the correct voltage for the size of your coil (6-12v), because if it is much higher, the coil will be destroyed due to expansion. Keep up the good job!!! :-)

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Assuming you're not me, and don't have resistance wire sitting around (for building RDA [vape] coils,) consider using pencil graphite. It isn't flexible, but a 0.5-2cm piece should reach ignition temp with a 9v battery. Unless you're using mechanical pencil graphite, it can be used multiple times before replacing.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Great Idea!

    Did you know you can also create your own light bulb using thin pencil graphite? The thin high resistance material glows when a current is ran through it. As far as temperatures go though, that is for you to discover.

    Thanks for your contribution,



    Reply 3 years ago


    Kanthal wire seems to be a great alternative. Some others have also mentioned nichrome wire. Both are great because they are designed to heat up and not snap unlike the standard wire. You could easily create some kind of capsule with the wire inside and space for a match to be used and replaced. It's a good idea for a more permenant solution but if you only intend to use them once then this method is easy and cheap.

    Thanks again for your contribution and your kind words of encouragement.



    4 years ago

    Hello, like the instructable. You can also use nichrome wire (used for cutting stylophone and used in down flow heaters) as an igniter. Use a needle to make a hole in the fuse then place the nichrome wire through.

    5 replies

    Great idea. I have heard of nichrome wire before and it is something I use in the workshop for cutting polystyrene but I never thought of it in this application. Thanks for the idea!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Tthe nichrome filement sounds good but for very inexpensive alternative you can also get from even the skimpy tools isle at your local corner store as "picture haning wire" which is usually multi stranded thin cable which yo u untwist and seperate the strands down to 1 or 2, 1 should suffice as with the discription of the nicchrome wire

    Great Idea!

    Really any conductive material that heats up enough to light the match when a current is applied is good enough, including picture hanging wire. Normal wire was chosen as it is cheap and easy to find in large quantities at most hardware stores.

    Thanks for the contribution!



    Reply 4 years ago

    You should get us a picture. I'm having a hard time imagining it.


    3 years ago

    Looks cool! I think "The King of Random" did made something like this a couple months ago

    Hi Ash the best,

    To ignite the homemade igniters it is easiest to connect them directly to the battery. However, if you would like to ignite them remotely I would recommend connecting the igniter to a switch over a long length of cable (it will have to be thick cable to carry the high current over the long distance) and then connecting to the battery. This means that when the switch is pressed remotely the circuit will be made and the match will ignite. I have made a diagram for you to hopefully explain it better (attached to this comment).

    Another possibility is connecting them to a remote controlled pyrotechnic firing box although as it is not something I have tried I could not guarantee it will work.

    Hope that helps,



    4 years ago

    I love this Idea. It's almost as good as My Ez Install Halos for the Dodge challenger and Jeeps.
    Want to try this asap.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Why are you leaving the extra strands of wire sticking out, instead of cutting them off?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi lime3D,

    The wires have been left in place as sometimes the thin strand of wire can become untwisted from the rest. Leaving them in place ensures a strong connection.

    Hope that helps,