Match Head in Coffee

Coffee Geek Lab / Match Head in Coffee
Yurii Brown

Certified Barista

August 15, 2021

Match Head in Coffee

Seeing coffee lovers add a match head in coffee can be an awkward sight, especially when you do not have the slightest idea why a match head should be in a coffee. The sight looks absurd, but there is no end to the fantastic things you could do with your cup of coffee to give your taste buds a memorable experience.

So instead of the usual cream, sugar, and whip forms of coffee, there are a few unusual things you could add to your coffee to have a new feel. Matches in coffee are not common and sound weird. Still, it is an excellent additive to coffee for a memorable experience.

This guide will discuss all you need to know about adding matches to your coffee and why you should try it.

Ingredients in a Match Head

A match head is made of an oxidizing agent like potassium chlorate mixed with sulfur and glass powder. Before the invention of matches, people used flint and steel to start fires, but with the discovery of the element phosphorus, matches came into existence, and the phosphorus-soaked paper was developed as a way to strike the matches.

The main ingredient in a match head is potassium chlorate (1). It provides the oxygen in the reaction between the match head and the phosphorus-soaked paper making the match head light.

It is important to note here that because of the very reactive nature of phosphorus, it is not included in today’s match head. Still, it is provided on the surface of the matchbox.

Quote Box

Match head in a coffee soothes a stressed mind

How Toxic is Ingesting a Match Head?

It is no news that a match head contains several toxic chemicals and reactive elements. Still, one question that seems to be in the heart of every coffee lover is how harmful can ingesting a match head be?

Although it is safe and adventurous for adult coffee-lovers to ingest a couple of match heads in their coffee, consuming more than is necessary can cause severe health challenges. With children, we recommend little to no amount of match head in their coffee.

When you consume the chemicals in a match head at high levels, it can cause devastating health challenges such as the breakdown of red blood cells. The red blood cells transport oxygen to the vital organs of the body. A breakdown in its function can lead to the damage of some vital body organs and even fatality.

Hence, it is only beneficial to consume match heads in small amounts. One or two in your coffee is all you need to enjoy the benefits of a match head in coffee. If you consume more than this, you may experience diarrhea, dehydration, mild irritation, mild pyrosis, etc.

What Are The Benefits Of a Match Head In Coffee?

Believe it or not, a match head though toxic has more than one benefit in your coffee. When consumed moderately, here are some of the benefits of a match head in your coffee;

1. Enhance and Refines the taste of (Bad) coffee

It does not matter whether you use the best Japanese coffee maker to make your favorite coffee; it will taste like garbage if left to sit in the coffee maker for a long time. 

When you have your favorite coffee, but it tastes stale, stirring one to two match heads into the coffee can refine the taste. The potassium chlorate in it also allows it to serve as a substitute for salt. Adding salt to coffee is an infamous trick among coffee lovers to reduce bitterness and enhance the taste of coffees.

Enhancing the taste of coffee is the most known benefit of adding match heads in your coffee. Nevertheless, just as it can improve and refine the taste of coffee, it can destroy the taste when not used moderately. Hence, to give your taste buds the best experience, you should add a minimal amount to your coffee.

Also read: Coffee maker wattage

2. Protects Over Sensitive Teeth

Individuals with oversensitive teeth always have the problem of drinking hot or cold coffee. Adding one or two match heads in their coffee is the key to have them always enjoy drinking hot or cold coffee.

Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound used to reduce teeth sensitivity, and the most recent match heads contain this compound. Hence, adding a few match heads in your coffee can aid in calming the pain you might feel when consuming your favorite cold or hot coffee.

3. Protects against Mosquitoes and Bug Bites

One of the arc-enemies of good health is mosquitoes and bugs. They can cause serious illness, so it is essential to get rid of or prevent them from coming close.

The chemicals in a match head are good repellents of mosquitoes and bugs. Soldiers first used this during the wars. They ingest a couple of match heads to prevent bugs and mosquitoes bite. The ingested chemicals, when excreted through their pores as they sweat, repels bugs and other insects.

Although some people see this as hogwash, this trick has been effective for military vets.

Alternatives To Match Heads In Coffee

Match heads are a good coffee additive to enhance the taste of your coffee and give your taste buds a new feel. Still, we do not recommend you add it to your coffee often because of the cumulative damage it may cause in the long run.

When it comes to creating a memorable experience with a cup of coffee, there are no limits. Besides using a good coffee maker such as the plumbed coffee maker to make coffee in your home and office, there are several alternatives to a match head that can make your coffee taste fantastic.

Here are some alternatives to a match head in your coffee:

  • Ice cream. Adding your favorite flavor of ice cream to a cup of coffee is a sure turn-on. Trust me. It does not only give your coffee a rich, creamy taste, but the aroma is something you will cherish.
  • Lime or Lemon. If you don’t want to reduce the bitterness of your coffee through the conventional adding of salt or sugar, adding lime or lemon is your sure bet. Squeezing the lime juice in or allowing a lemon peel to sit in your hot coffee for a few minutes will enhance the taste.
  • Nutmeg.
    Like a match head, this sounds weird but adding one or two pods to your coffee will leave a memorable experience on your taste bud and the conviction that it is the best coffee you’ve ever tasted.


Coffee can be served in numerous forms and fashions. Adding a match head is just one of many ways to enjoy a cup of coffee. Although many do this for their potassium and phosphorus content. To have a memorable experience with your cup of coffee, choose what suits you.

Have you added a match head to your coffee before? We would love to hear which additive you prefer in your cup of coffee in the comment section.

Additional Resources:

  1. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (2021). Matches. Retrieved from https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/poison-control-center/matches

Yurii Brown

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