Around CE 900 Tao Gu, a Chinese author, wrote

If there occurs an emergency at night it may take some time to make a light to light a lamp. But an ingenious man devised the system of impregnating little sticks of pinewood with sulfur and storing them ready for use. At the slightest touch of fire they burst into flame. One gets a little flame like an ear of corn. This marvellous thing was formerly called a “light-bringing slave”, but afterwards when it became an article of commerce its name was changed to ‘fire inch-stick’

Click to see making fire with flintstones

A Locomotive Safety Matches label (Sweden, ca....
A Locomotive Safety Matches label (Sweden, ca. 1903) Русский: Этикетка от спичек с изображением паровоза (Швеция, ок. 1903 г.). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matches went through evolution as time passed and became more safe for those using and those manufacturing same. By replacing white phosphorus with red phosphorus and making a specially prepared surface for ignition through friction matches are now very safe that we can safely carry it in our pocket without worrying.

There are different types of matches available such as  matchbooks, matchboxes, safety matches, strike anywhere matches and lifeboat matches.

Matches (Photo credit: Play | See | Feel | Live)

As per dangerous goods regulations matches are classified as Class 4.1, Flammable solids. There are three entries in IMDG Code with description about four types of matches.


UN 1944 MATCHES, SAFETY (book, card or strike on box)


Four types of matches are described

Fusee = the heads of which are p prepared with a friction-sensitive igniter composition and a pyrotechnic substance which burns with little or no flame, but with intense heat.

Safety matches = matches that can be ignited by friction on a prepared surface only, kept in or attached to box, book or card.

Strike anywhere =which can be ignited by friction on a solid surface,

Français : Clint Eastwood au Festival de Canne...
Français : Clint Eastwood au Festival de Cannes 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

remember Clint Eastwood movies.

Wax Vesta = which can be ignited by friction on a prepared surface or on a solid surface.

For transport purpose please refer the correct entry in IMDG Code and apply related provisions.

Enjoy the strike anywhere music 😉


  1. Dear Sir

    Thank you very much for the above detail. Could you please advise under which UN Number, Safety matches inside a glass bottle will be considered.

    Advance thanks for your reply.

    1. Dear Abraham,
      Safety Matches is under UN Number 1944 “MATCHES, SAFETY”. If the packing meetings the conditions of packing instruction P407 and net mass is less than 25 KG then only marking is required as per IMDG Code for sea transport.
      Do you have a photograph of safety matches inside glass bottle as it is being shipped? if so please send to shashi[at]


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