How to use white phosphorus without ignite it?

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  • #2
Borek
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As long as it is under water it is not in a direct contact with the air, so it doesn't ignite.

From the same wikipedia article:

Lucifers were however quickly replaced after the discovery in 1830 by Frenchman Charles Sauria who substituted the antimony sulfide with white phosphorus.[15] These new phosphorus matches had to be kept in airtight metal boxes but became popular.
 
  • #3
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yeah, but how they mix in match head in the first place?
 
  • #4
Borek
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Perhaps they used wet pasta and the phosphorus was exposed when the mix was dried.

Plenty techniques that could be used.
 
  • #5
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As long as it is under water it is not in a direct contact with the air, so it doesn't ignite.
I have another related question that doesn't involve matches.
White phosphorus glows on contact with air. This is a type of chemoluminescence, not fire. The greenish glow of white phosphorus was used for nineteenth century special effects. The chemoluminescence was there without full combustion.
The Sherlock Holmes story, "Hound of the Baskervilles" by Conan Doyle, uses white phosphorus in the climax. I am not sure, but I don't think this is science fiction. White phosphorus glows.
How did people, using the chemoluminescence of white phosphorus, prevent it from bursting into flame?
Maybe white phosphorus is only slightly flammable. However, I know how deadly white phosphorus can be in war. So maybe the owner didn't mind the risk to the dog. However, there must have been some safety precautions when using white phosphorus.
1) Did the first matches, which used white phosphorus, glow green when exposed to air?
2) Did people using the chemoluminescence of white phosphoruse just keep it away from flame?
3) Did people mix white phosphorus with some inert substance that prevented flame?
 

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