"The world would be a better place if everyone grew brains." - Humble Master
Question #91758 posted on 10/25/2018 1:18 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

As a teenager, I put a lit match in my mouth and closed my mouth to smother it. No tongue, just cutting off the air. I was maybe 14/15. I tried it again today (26yrs old) and couldn't do it before the match started brining my mouth. So my question is why? My only idea is that my mouth got bigger, so it took longer for the match to use up the air, but is that true? I don't know how much bigger your mouth gets. Have I just lost the teenage abandon/pain tolerance that lets me hold a match in long enough?
-Hoping to solve this with science and not experimenting


Dear I hope so too*, 

Okay, I know we're supposed to be the ones with the answers here, and not ask more questions, but I have a few questions for you: First of all, why?? Like, what made you decide to stick a lit match inside your mouth? With each time separated by a decade? And how did you avoid burning your tongue (or did you just not avoid that)?

Now that that's out of the way, here's your answer (please email me mine): There are many factors to take into account for your situation, and I highly doubt the main one would be a bigger mouth. Consider the variance in the flame size for matches. Sometimes the flame is fairly small, and sometimes it's bigger. Specifically, I've noticed that the longer you leave a match burning, the longer the flames reach. This means that if the match had longer to burn outside of your mouth before being stuck inside this time around, it would take longer for the flame to be extinguished. Another explanation I researched a bit is the relative humidity of the human mouth. Reason being, fire burns better in lower humidity settings. I found a paper to this effect, which put the standard humidity of a human mouth as comparable to climes in the South Pacific (btw, I just have to say I've never been so hyper-aware of the humidity of my mouth as when writing this answer--it is not exactly a pleasant consciousness). A different paper** revealed that there's a lot of variation of the temperature within people's mouths over a 24 hour period. Now, this isn't humidity anymore, but temperature also effects how well fire burns.

All of this makes me guess some combination of the internal humidity, temperature, and length of time the match was burning before being put in your mouth affected how long the match needed to use up all the available oxygen in your mouth before going out.


*except really, an argument could be made that solving things with science always comes down to experimenting, so what you're actually hoping for is to solve this without science 

**I keep on trying to link to this paper, but the link just expires. Sorry, everyone. However, the paper is called "Intra-oral temperature variation over 24 hours", and is currently the 6th result from this Google search 


Dear smokey joe,

Now I know this is a thing, I have subsequently discovered an internet search for "extinguishing match in mouth" yields a variety of amusing tutorials, videos and forums from magicians giving advice on how to do this more effectively.


--Ardilla Feroz


Dear Hoping,

Come on, you'd only need to try it out between 25-30 times to get a decent sample size. Where's your sense of adventure?


(Who is a hypocrite and definitely would not do this 25 times. I'd totally do it once on a dare, though)


Dear Tipperary,

I dare you to put a lit match in your mouth.


P.S. But also I absolve myself of any responsibility for any injuries attained, and also please don't hurt yourself