Skip to Content

Does Eating Match Heads Repel Mosquitoes? THE BEST ANSWER!

Does Eating Match Heads Repel Mosquitoes? THE BEST ANSWER!

Does Eating Match Heads Repel Mosquitoes?

There is an urban legend floating around regarding how soldiers would consume and eat match heads, in an effort to repel the swarms of insects that would descend on them during wartime.

Many feel that the fact that military MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) comes complete with a book of matches lends credence to this rumor.

The underlying rationale for such an odd behavior is the belief that the sulfur in the match head will repel and keep mosquitoes — in particular — away, as the sulfur is excreted through pores, sweat, and skin after consumption.


Does Eating Match Heads Repel Mosquitoes?

Match heads do contain sulfur which naturally repels mosquitoes and other insects. But, strike-anywhere matches also contain potassium chlorate and antimony trisulphide, which could be toxic. Safety match heads even contain ground glass. Do not make a practice of eating match heads to repel mosquitoes.

Do you think eating matchheads repel mosquitoes? Keep reading to learn more!


Matches as Mosquito Repellent

Have you ever heard the myth that eating a match head containing sulfur will keep insects away?

It turns out that science supports the underlying theory of this, but it is not recommended that you go out and begin to eat match heads.

Match heads contain a lot of toxic chemicals as well as powdered glass, so eating them seems risky.

In fact, matches contain a lot of questionable ingredients, which may make sense for a combustible item like a match — but not so great for human consumption.

Match heads contain sulfur, but also Antimony trisulfide and potassium chlorate, in addition to powdered glass which is added to the match head for friction when striking and igniting the match.

Match heads contain antimony trisulfide, potassium chlorate, and even ground glass for striking and igniting the match
Match heads contain antimony trisulfide, potassium chlorate, and even ground glass for striking and igniting the match

Matches also contain some sort of glue, securing the match head to the wooden or cardboard match.

The practice of eating match heads seems to have come from the military and those that were stuck in bug-infested swamps and fields for days on end.

Eating a single match head provides sulfur, which is then excreted through the skin and sweat. This sulfur deters and repels insects, including mosquitoes, chiggers, spiders, and others.

Could there be something to the practice of eating match heads for the sulfur — or simply eating sulfur itself — to try and repel insects?

It seems to make sense scientifically but is not worth the risks of ingesting these non-edible items.

It is worth mentioning that cigarettes contain sulfur and smokers report fewer bites and problems with mosquitoes, coincidentally.

Cigarettes are also  known to contain sulfur, which smokers claim repel mosquitoes
Cigarettes are also known to contain sulfur, which smokers claim repel mosquitoes

While not an obvious endorsement, it does lend merit to the claims.


Suggestions to Repel Mosquitoes

National safety panels, like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, have reported the many health risks of potassium chlorate — the main component of match heads.

This chemical can be toxic to the lungs, blood, nervous system, and liver.

Some safer suggestions to repel mosquitoes include these ideas:

  • Relocate to a breezy location to help keep bugs at bay. Head toward the water or move higher up to catch a breeze that may repel flying insects.
  • Wear a hood or hat — and try to face the wind when sitting or standing to keep bugs behind you.
  • Wear neutral colors that won’t attract mosquitoes like black or light-colored apparel does.
  • Wear long pants, sleeves, and shirts with collars. Stay covered up to deter insects. Wear a hat and face netting, if necessary.
  • Supplement with Vitamin B every day. It works!
  • If insects are chewing on you, take a shower to remove the scent of soap, perfume, deodorant, and sweat – all of which attract bugs.
  • Time your outdoor activities. Mosquitoes are at their worst at dusk and dawn- try to plan your day around this.
  • Use bug repellent that contains Deet, which is the strongest available. Do not put this repellent on pets or young children as it can be potentically toxic.


Frequently Asked Questions about How Eating Match Heads Can Repel Mosquitoes


What are matches made from?

Contemporary matches contain wood and wax in the match, itself, and Sulfur, Zinc, antimony trisulfide, potassium chlorate, and ground glass for friction when striking the match head.


Will eating sulfur harm you?


Eating sulfur does not typically harm humans but consuming too much sulfur can cause discomfort and diarrhea. Sulfur can also be irritating to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.


How does sulfur kill insects or animals?

Sulfur kills insects that touch or consume it. It impacts their ability to produce energy and can suffocate animals that burrow.


What are some important uses of sulfur?

Some important uses of Sulfur include use in the production of gun powder, matches, fireworks, insecticides, and disinfectants.


Does sulfur repel mosquitoes?

Sulfur is used in some creams and powders that also repel mosquitoes.


Does sulfur repel chiggers?

Sulfur is useful for repelling chiggers and mites. Sulfur also has shown potential at deterring spiders and ticks, too.


Does sulfur repel snakes?

Sulfur has not been shown to be effective at repelling and deterring snakes. Consider other means of keeping snakes at bay.


Conclusion About Does Eating Match Heads Repel Mosquitoes

While it makes sense scientifically, do not eat match heads to repel mosquitoes.

If you are stranded in the jungle with nothing but a book of matches and are being eaten alive by swarms of insects, it may be worth the risk to eat a single match head while you wait to be rescued.

Effective or not, there are many other ways to repel and deter mosquitoes that are safer than this one.

About Me

Hi, this is Kent Walker. I am an outdoor enthusiast. I love fishing, hiking as well as kayaking. I write about my adventures in the wide open and what I learned about it.