In arson and bombing cases, matches are often used as the ignition method. We have investigated the use of elemental analysis by inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry to discriminate match heads used in arson cases. Six elements, magnesium, aluminum, calcium, iron, zinc, and barium, in match heads were detected after the match heads were dissolved in HNO3, and these elements were quantified in 8 wood stick matches and 5 paper stick matches by means of calibration curves prepared from standard sample solutions. Using this method, we were able to distinguish all the matches from one another both before and after combustion. The method has the potential to be very useful for resolving arson cases.
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