A safety matchbox is a small container designed to hold safety matches. Safety matches are called so because they are designed to only ignite when struck against a specially prepared surface, typically found on the side of the matchbox. This striking surface contains phosphorus and other ignitable compounds that ignite upon friction with the match head.
The matchbox itself is usually made of cardboard or thin wood, with a striking surface attached to one side. Inside the matchbox are the safety matches, typically made of wooden sticks coated with a mixture of sulfur, potassium chlorate, and powdered glass or sand. This coating ignites when rubbed against the striking surface, providing a flame.
Safety matchboxes are commonly used for lighting candles, stoves, campfires, and other purposes where a controlled flame is needed. They are popular because they are relatively safe to use compared to earlier forms of matches, which could ignite accidentally if rubbed against a rough surface.