An Improved Matchstick Container

Jar vs. bottle

Jar vs. Bottle:  How crafty do you want to be?

Last year around this time, I wrote about how I’d thrown out my ratty matchbooks in lieu of a mason jar and sandpaper rig.  I do love the mason jar set up as it is such a simple fix to an annoying problem, but over the last year I did notice that I was experiencing a couple problems.  The first was that every time I needed to grab a match, I had to unscrew the jar top.  I had to be a bit careful about this because of all the layers of sandpaper I’d nestled in the top.  If I opened everything too quickly or turned the lid the wrong way, I’d be spending a few seconds cleaning up rounds of sandpaper.  The other issue I noticed was that I would have to frequently use 2-3 matches to get one to light.  Granted, this may be because I used a very fine grit of sandpaper and could have changed out to a larger grit pretty easily, but cutting out sandpaper rounds gives me a similar reaction as some people have to “nails on a chalkboard,” and I procrastinated horribly on that task.


Carol Watson Artwork’s Matchstick Bottles, as shown on her Etsy store.  She can also be contacted via her website or Facebook page.

Well, during a shopping trip at an artist’s co-op the other day, I discovered an iteration on this theme that I think is brilliant.  Hoosier bead and jewelry artist Carol Watson has taken small glass bottles and Dremel-engraved a rough crosshatch pattern on the bottom.  All you do is tip a match out of the bottle, strike it on the bottom, and go about your business.  I’ve yet to have a match fail on this crosshatch, which is engraved pretty deeply–it’s no light frosting!  The engraved lines are just deep and wide enough enough for the match to catch and light, but spaced enough to clean any residue easily with just a damp cloth.  Carol also dresses her bottles up with a bit of raffia and one of her own lampwork bead creations.

Carol’s bottles are about $20 each, but provided one has a Dremel tool and an appropriate bit (this one should do fine with a standard Dremel and eliminate the need for engraving bits) as well as appropriately-sized bottles and patience, this could be a ridiculously simple, cheap, and effective gift option for coven mates and friends.  Perhaps an appropriate one for Candlemas?

NOTE:  These containers only work with “Strike Anywhere” Matches.

UPDATE:  I decided to try my hand at this, and used the Dremel bit linked above on the bottom of a mason jar.  It worked beautifully.  I popped a pretty cap on the jar and considered my job done.  Later on, though, an opportunity arose where I wanted to give a lot of candle-related gifts and thought a match bottle would be a great addition.  The bottle is way cuter than my mason jar, so I did some research.  It turns out that the bottles Carol uses are 100ml serum vials.  They are usually ridiculously expensive to buy as they’re almost always sterile.  You can sometimes get empty used ones for free from hospitals and veterinarians, though I’m not sure they’re supposed to do that.  Ultimately, I did find a supplier that sold unsterile clean bottles for about $1.90 each.  After I etched them, I washed them well with soap and water.  I used distilled water for a final rinse and baked them in the oven for a few minutes to get the insides to dry out.  With that narrow neck, they can air dry for weeks and still have moisture inside.


4 thoughts on “An Improved Matchstick Container

  1. I couldn’t help it…I had to try this out for myself. I ran out to Lowes and bought the Dremel 545 bit, which ran about $16 locally. It took some doing to find bottles or jars of about the right size, but eventually I found some cute “Pioneer Woman” spice jars at Walmart that are the exact right height for the matches.

    I tested it out with a mason jar first, as the glass is thicker and less likely to crack. It worked out beautifully. I replaced my sandpaper and ring with a more attractive lid and think it a wonderful solution. Next, I tried the Pioneer Woman jars. I did go too deep and went too close to the edge on the first and cracked it. I stayed within the bottom ring on the second and let the tool do its job, and it went perfectly. It took less than 5 minutes to do all three jars, so you really could crank out dozens in next to no time flat if you were so inclined.

    I did a bit of digging and discovered that the bottle used in the photos above is likely a reclaimed 100 ml vial, such as what is used for medication. If you google “100 ml sterile vial”, you’ll probably find some. Buying them straight from the manufacturer means you’d be buying them sterile and paying quite a bit of money, but if you know any doctors or veterinarians (probably the latter given how big 100 ml is for an injection), you might be able to find some empties. I have also found a supplier that sells non-sterile vials for about $1.90 USD each here.

    • I love the look of the match bottles, although I’d either buy one with a cork or find a cork to put in the top to help keep moisture out (and prevent me spilling matches all over the floor when I knock the bottle over). My only problem is that my 220-count matchboxes last until they’re empty – so I annoyingly have no justification in buying a match bottle. Maybe I need to be more brutal with my matches?

      I’m not sure whether the shipping costs to the US would be worth it, as you need to send an enquiry about shipping for non-European international orders, but European and UK readers of your blog may find this website useful for small bottles and jars:

      • Maybe I’m too rough on mine? My 300-count boxes are practically in tatters a couple weeks after I open them. (Then again, they do get battered around the kitchen drawers quite a bit. I just shove the “extras” into a mason jar and pop that into storage until it’s needed. Although, I’ll probably score the bottoms of those jars now that I have the drill bit and just rotate out match jars throughout the house. Except on my altar, where I’m totally using this little bit of adorableness that is that bottle.

        I shouldn’t think it too hard to find a cork, but moisture isn’t a huge issue for matches. I’ve had a cardboard box of them in my steamy bathroom for 5 months, and they still light. I actually thought the little bead at the side was supposed to act as a cap (it’s purely decorative according to the artist), and it would be perfectly good at keeping moisture out. You do have to give the matches a good shake for them to come out of the bottle, too. It’s almost impossible to spill them.

  2. Ahh, my matchboxes just sit on a shelf which might account for their longevity in comparison. And I must admit I do like the idea of unspillable matches, especially as I managed last week to open a mostly full box upside-down. I’m still finding matches in odd corners…

    That bottle is utterly adorable, and your point about moisture is a good one – I’ve also got a box in the bathroom, but they’re the strike-on-box kind; clearly I’ve picked up the erroneous thought somewhere that the strike anywhere matches have more of a problem with damp.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s