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Published on March 7, 2018

Wacky World of Rubber: Heating up with rubber bands

One major inherent truth about engineering is that no process exists that can't be made more complicated for the simple purpose of doing something "cool."

Sure, everyone knows how to light a match. But do you know how to light a match using a rubber band? No?

Well, you're in luck, because Youtuber Mr. Gear has taken this very simple process and made it slightly more complicated for the sake of incorporating one of our favorite industry products around here. In his short video, Mr. Gear takes a small rubber band and twists it in on itself to create two simple loops. One kitchen match goes through those as an anchor (he doesn't say so, but it doesn't look like a standard tearaway match would be strong enough to hold up to the strain).

Another kitchen match is threaded through the leftover loop in the band, and pulled back as though he was about to shoot the rubber band across the room.

With a distance of a hand's width or so away, one of two things happens: The rubber band snaps off over the top of the second match, or he releases the first match, which flings forward and strikes the second match head-to-head. Either way, magically, the second matchhead bursts into flame from the friction!

Mr. Gear suggests in the comments that this trick is meant to help out if "your matchbox has become useless." And to that end, the end of the clip shows him lighting a match with a rubber band out in the woods and starting some kindling. I'd hope that a lost camper would be able to find another rough surface to strike if their matchbox was ruined (say, the wood itself), but this is at least a neat way to go about a very simple task.

Kyle Brown is a reporter for Rubber & Plastics News who watched a lot of Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye while growing up. Follow him on Twitter at @kbrownRPN.

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