Matches are so cheap and ubiquitous that it can be easy to underestimate what a scientific marvel they truly are. While our ancient ancestors had to laboriously spark rocks or use wooden bow drills to light a fire, the combination of chemicals on a match head lets us create a flame instantaneously.

In the short video above, Science Channel goes behind the scenes at a match factory, revealing how matchbooks are made, step by step. First, industrial workers cook up a giant potion of potassium chlorate, gelatin, silica granules, and boiling water to create the substance for the match heads. Then, massive, complex machines divide, organize, and package matchsticks, in a process that is awe-inspiring in both scale and efficiency.

Banner Image Credit: Science Channel, YouTube