Do matches have a shelf life or expire?

The straight answer is yes, they do lose their shelf lie. Do you ever get the feeling that matches are conspiring against you?

No, we’re not talking about that old saying. We mean, like, on a literal level. They’re literally conspiring against you.

Even when you store them upright and away from direct sunlight, matches can lose some of their luster and taste after being exposed to air for prolonged periods of time.

You see, oxygen is the enemy of all things flammable. It causes the oils in the paper to break down, leaving the matches dry and brittle.

That’s why matches are specifically formulated to keep out air and moisture.

They are designed to burn for a short period of time and then be discarded. If you leave matches lying around for too long, they can literally lose their flavor.

And that’s not just a bad thing. It’s terrible. The worst. So what can you do to keep your Matches from Expiring? Keep reading to find out.

1. Store Your Matches Properly

Store your matches in a high-quality container, like one of our Emergency Survival Kits.

They’ll keep out the oxygen that causes so much destruction to match heads. When you need to use them, just remove them from the container and light them as normal.

2. Store in a Cool, Dark Location

One of the easiest ways to keep your matches from expiring is by storing them in a cool, dark location.

Make sure that you store your matches in a place where they won’t be exposed to sunlight, as this will cause them to break down more quickly.

Keeping your matches in an airtight container will also protect them from moisture.

3. Don’t Keep Matches in the Same Packet

Every matchbook comes with a half-dozen or so matches that are contained in a small paper pocket.

Those pockets usually have holes on the side to help you strike them. The problem is, those little holes let out some of the oxygen that’s trying to ruin your matches.

This causes them to burn much quicker than usual and prevents you from getting your money’s worth.

It’s like one of those lip balms that are designed for moisturizing lips but then has a hole for you to put your finger through to use the product more quickly.

Except it’s not really that different at all because those lip balms are terrible and so are these little pockets in matchbooks.

So what do you do? You keep your matches in their own separate packet, sealed up tight with no holes on either end (except for one little opening at the top where they can be easily retrieved).

This way, you can keep each pack of ten or so matches protected from whatever it is that’s trying to destroy them and make sure they last as long as possible.

4. Discard Old Matches

The first and most obvious way to extend the shelf life of a match is to discard any old matches. Old matches don’t work, so it’s best to get rid of them.

The best way to do this is to keep a bucket or jar that is specifically for discarded matches. Whenever you strike one, throw it in the bucket and then send it off on its merry way.

This might seem like a tedious task, but it will be worth your while when you want a match and all you can find are new ones.

5. Check the Paper Match After a While

One of the simplest ways to make sure your matches don’t expire too soon is to check the paper match after a while.

If the flame is getting weaker and it doesn’t light as easily, you know it’s time to replace it.

The old saying, “when in doubt, light one more”, applies to this situation. If you keep burning your matches and they still seem to be losing their flavor, you might want to change brands or methods.


Matches are a great way to start a fire, but they’re not the most long-lasting. The good news is that there are a few simple ways to make your matches last longer.

Here are a few simple ways to make your matches last longer:

  • Store your matches properly
  • Store in a cool, dark location
  • Don’t keep matches in the same packet
  • Discard old matches
  • Check the paper match after a while