February 22, 2009
First, make sure there are no fans on, or vents blowing near where you will be lighting the match. The key to lighting a match correctly and safely is to keep your hand movements to a minimum. The number one mistake beginners make is striking too fast and too hard. Place the match head gently against the striking surface. Move your hand only so far as to scrape the match against the surface firmly enough for it to light, and then decelerate quickly but steadily enough that the match does not go out immediately. It may help to plan out the hand gesture you will be using in your mind beforehand and run through it a couple of times without actually striking the match to get your body familiar with the motion. When you feel comfortable with the motion and are ready to light the match, focus your mind on the contact point between the match head and the striking surface and not on your hand. Think of it as your mind guiding the match's head while your hand follows. After the match is lit, hold it still for a moment and gently tilt it so that the body of the match continues to fuel the flame. Once the flame is stable, set aside (or drop) the matchbook and use that empty hand to cup around the flame, just not too close so that it burns you. Then gently move both hands in unison towards the object you are lighting.