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Which came first – the match or the lighter?

The Answer

Believe it or not, it was the lighter.

The invention of the lighter preceded the invention of the lighter by only a few short years (1823 and 1826 respectively).

History of the Lighter

The lighter was invented a couple of years before the match in 1823. It was large and hard to use, and didn’t really achieve any kind of popularity. A chemical reaction was used to create hydrogen gas, which was ignited by a spark.

First lighter was invented in 1823 with the effort of the famous German chemist Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner (1780 – 1849).

History of Lighter – Who Invented Lighter?

Lighters gained mainstream popularity in the early 20th century with the introduction of naptha-based lighters. The Zippo was introduced in 1932. Lighters gained even more popularity in the 1950s with the introduction of butane lighters.

What About the Match?

There were match-like tools that appeared in China as early as around 950 AD. These were sticks that had flammable material attached to the ends which could easily be ignited when introduced to a small flame. However, a match, by definition, is ignited by friction.


a short slender piece of flammable material (such as wood) tipped with a combustible mixture that bursts into flame when slightly heated through friction (as by being scratched against a rough surface)

Match | Definition of Match by Merriam-Webster

The match, as we know it, was invented in 1826 by a chemist named John Walker from Stockton on Tees. The first commercial friction matches – called Lucifers – were sold in 1827 and quickly become popular.

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