Strike Anywhere Matches

A comprehensive guide to strike anywhere matches: How to use and make your own, where to buy, and more.

July 05, 2022

© Charlie Zimmerman

Strike anywhere matches are matches that will ignite when struck on any rough or textured surface. Strike anywhere matches used to be the most common type of match and are still popular among bush crafters and survivalists today. However, strike anywhere matches are less common than they once were and are becoming increasingly difficult to find. This is because they could ignite accidentally and are therefore dangerous to ship. 

We set out to test all the best strike anywhere matches, but only found a few options still available online and in stores. We’ll show you those, along with some great alternatives to strike anywhere matches. And, we’ll even show you how to make your own strike anywhere matches, since they’re so hard to buy these days.

strike anywhere matches

Where to Buy Strike Anywhere Matches?

We recommend you buy strike anywhere matches in a store. Some strike anywhere matches are available online, but shipping them is expensive because the matches could ignite during shipping. This makes purchasing strike anywhere matches online quite expensive.

We found some boxes of strike anywhere matches online that cost 10 times as much as a comparable box of strike on box matches. This price disparity is certainly due to the expense of shipping strike anywhere matches.

The US Postal Service will not ship strike anywhere matches. They consider strike anywhere matches to be a Class 4 Hazardous Material: Flammable Solids. All class 4 hazardous materials are prohibited from being shipped via USPS. FedEx and UPS will ship strike anywhere matches, but they need to be shipped as hazardous materials. Shipping hazardous materials can be very expensive, too.

strike anywhere matches

Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Kitchen Matches

Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Kitchen Matches

Price: $28.49

While it makes the most sense to buy strike anywhere matches in a physical retail store, you can still buy Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere matches on Amazon.

However, as of June 2022, there are only 10 of these left in stock. And these are the only strike anywhere matches available from Amazon. These strike anywhere matches work, but not as well as some older strike anywhere matches used to work. We suspect this is because Diamond is using less phosphorus (the active “strike anywhere” chemical) on the head of their matches than they once did in an effort to make these matches safer. They definitely will ignite, but it’s not as reliable as you might hope.

Our local Ace Hardware carried these Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Matches, too. We were able to purchase them online, but Ace Hardware’s website only allows in-store pickup for this item. 

Diamond has a store finder so you can search where to find these strike anywhere matches near you. Click “Buy Now” on the product page to get to their store finder.

Buy Here


Fox Outdoor 57-595 Strike Anywhere Matches

Fox Outdoor 57-595 Strike Anywhere Matches

Price: $14.71

The Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere matches are also available for purchase online through Walmart. However, these strike anywhere matches are listed as “Fox Outdoor 57-595 Strike Anywhere Matches.”

According to the photos on Walmart’s site, they are the same matches, though. We tried to purchase these matches in our local Walmart, but they weren’t in stock. 

Buy Here


Diamond 2.9 in. L Strike Anywhere Matches

Diamond 2.9 in. L Strike Anywhere Matches

Price: $103.32

These strike anywhere matches come in a matchbook of 20. And yes, you’re reading that price correctly. It seems that K-Mart is factoring in the cost of shipping these strike anywhere matches into the retail price.

Also, we wouldn’t recommend sliding a matchbook of strike anywhere matches into your pocket. The friction created while you walk could cause them to ignite. But, a book of 20 matches is a good size to put in a survival kit. We do wonder who exactly would pay this much for some matches, though.

Buy Here

lit match

Alternatives to Strike Anywhere Matches

UCO Stormproof Match Kit

UCO Stormproof Match Kit

Price: $10.49

While these matches are not strike anywhere matches, the UCO Stormproof matches are great for a survival kit. They’re waterproof, come with three strikers, and come in a waterproof case that will safely sit in your kit until you need them. We tested these in the rain and they worked, enough said.

Buy Here


Diamond Strike on Box Matches

Diamond Strike on Box Matches

Price: $8.54

The Diamond Strike on Box Matches are the safety match version of the hard to find Diamond Strike Anywhere Matches. They’re significantly less expensive to buy online since strike on box matches are not considered hazardous. They have the same solid wooden matchstick as the strike anywhere variety, but won’t accidentally ignite due to friction.

These are great matches to use for making your own strike anywhere matches.

Buy Here


Surviveware Stormproof Matches with Waterproof Container

Surviveware Stormproof Matches with Waterproof Container

Price: $12.99

These are another strike anywhere match alternative that you can keep in your go-bag, survival kit, or camping setup. They’re waterproof and windproof.

We wanted to see if they’d really stay lit when submerged underwater, so we put them to the test. After lighting, we dunked the burning matchhead underwater. When we pulled it out of the water after a few seconds it was still burning.

Buy Here


BIC Classic Lighter

BIC Classic Lighter

Price: $10.58

This ubiquitous lighter from BIC is probably the main reason why strike anywhere matches are so difficult to find. These BIC lighters are cheap and they work well for 1000s of times. They don’t work well in the rain or wind, but if you find a sheltered spot to start a fire they’ll reliably provide a flame.

We have used BIC lighters for years and would confidently put one in a survival kit over strike anywhere matches any day.

Buy Here


Why are Strike Anywhere Matches Illegal?

They're not. Strike anywhere matches are actually legal, but they are becoming difficult to find.

Why Is It Difficult to Find Strike Anywhere Matches and Why Are Some Brands Discontinued?

Strike anywhere matches are difficult to find and expensive to ship since they could accidentally ignite during shipping. The USPS prohibits shipping strike anywhere matches and both UPS and FedEx require that strike anywhere matches be shipped as hazardous materials and only via ground shipping. 

strike anywhere matches

Strike anywhere matches are slightly more convenient to use than strike on box or safety matches. But as long as you have the striking surface on the box, strike on box matches work just as well as strike anywhere matches. 

Regular lighters have also contributed to strike anywhere matches becoming less common. A single BIC lighter costs less than a box of 300 matches and will provide about 100 times more lights, up to 3,000 lights total.

what are strike anywhere matches made of

Why Are They Illegal in Some States

Strike anywhere matches are federally legal in the United States. However, some states do not allow strike anywhere matches in the workplace. There is a lot of debate online about the legality of strike anywhere matches. But after extensive research, we can confidently say that strike anywhere matches are simply disappearing because they are dangerous to ship, strike on box matches are safer, and most importantly because lighters work just as well, if not better. 

California’s Department of Industrial Relations, or Cal/OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) of California, does not allow strike anywhere matches according to Title 8. So while they aren’t technically illegal, they aren’t allowed in workplaces. Regulations such as this one probably contribute to the slurry or misinformation on the internet stating that strike anywhere matches are illegal. 

how to dispose strike anywhere matches

This press release from the now-closed Disaster Relief Supply states that strike anywhere matches are not being made illegal. While they seem to be right, the emergency preparedness store probably sold a lot of strike anywhere matches to preppers, so this press release should be looked at critically. 

According to Worldpopulationreview.com, strike anywhere matches are illegal in the following states: Alaska, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, and New Jersey. But, after going down the rabbit hole of research to discover strike anywhere matches were legal in California, just not allowed in the workplace, we suspect strike anywhere matches are not actually illegal anywhere in the United States. 

strike anywhere matches It seems to be getting harder and harder to find strike anywhere matches abroad as well. You cannot purchase them via Amazon in the UK. Australians are asking Canadians to ship the strike anywhere matches on Reddit, so we know they aren’t available in Australia. And in Canada, the beloved Redbird Strike Anywhere Matches are not currently available on Amazon. We suspect they won’t ever be available again.

Just because something is unavailable does not mean it has been made illegal. No one made the horse-drawn carriage illegal, it just became obsolete with the invention of the automobile. This is the same with strike anywhere matches.

strike anywhere matches

What are Strike Anywhere Matches Made of?

Strike anywhere matches are made of Phosphorus Sesquisulfide and Potassium Chlorate. Strike anywhere matches have both the materials you would find in the match head and on the striker surface of strike on box matches. These chemicals react with friction to ignite the head of the match. The matchstick itself is made of wood. 

Strike anywhere matches are not waterproof or stormproof. If the matchhead is wet it will not ignite. Therefore, a quality waterproof or stormproof safety match is more reliable. 

strike anywhere matches vs safety matches


How to Make Strike Anywhere Matches?

You can easily make your own strike anywhere matches from standard safety matches. Here’s how:

Step 1: Take a box of safety matches and sand off the material from the striking surface. This material is phosphorus.

Step 2: Collect this powder and put it in a small container with a few drops of water. Stir the mixture together. Phosphorus is toxic. Try not to get any on your hands by wearing gloves or washing your hands after contact.

Step 3: Take a safety match and dip the head into this water and phosphorus mixture. Lay these matches aside to dry.

Step 4: When those matches are dry, take some other matches and use pliers to remove the matchhead material.

Step 5: Grind this material into a powder using a round, hard object like a pipe.

Step 6: Now put this powder into a clean container and mix with a few drops of water. If you’re using the same container as from step 2, be sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned the phosphorus out.

Step 7: Dip the matchheads into this mixture and set them aside to dry.

Now, test out your new DIY strike anywhere matches.


How to Use Strike Anywhere Matches?

You can use strike anywhere matches by dragging it on any rough surface to ignite. You can use strike anywhere matches on concrete, brick, a metal zipper, or any other rough surface to ignite them. Strike anywhere matches will not ignite if struck on wet surfaces, though.

How to dispose of unused strike anywhere matches?

There is no way to safely dispose of unused strike anywhere matches. To safely dispose of unlit strike anywhere matches you should light them first. If you have a fire pit build a fire and throw the unlit strike anywhere matches you want to dispose of into the fire. But, don’t throw them all in at once!

lit match

Strike Anywhere Matches vs. Strike on Box Matches

strike anywhere matches vs safety matches

Strike anywhere matches are matches that light when scraped across any rough surface. Strike the head of a strike anywhere match against any hard, rough, or dry surface and it will ignite. Strike anywhere matches are much more difficult to find than strike on box matches today.

Strike on box matches, or safety matches, only ignite when scraped across a special striking surface. This surface is usually found on the side of the matchbook or matchbox. These are the most commonly available matches today. You probably even have some of these in a kitchen drawer right now. Strike on box matches are commonly made in stormproof (water and windproof) or waterproof varieties.

Sam Schild photo

About Sam Schild

By Sam Schild (aka “Sia,” pronounced sigh): Sam is a writer, thru-hiker, and bikepacker. You can find him in Denver when he’s not out exploring in the mountains somewhere..

About Greenbelly

After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

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