KOTA BHARU: For the past 89 years, the Cap Lada (Chilli Brand) Kelantan Match Factory in Sungai Keladi, here, has never stopped its production to meet the demands for matches by its loyal fans.

The factory supervisor, Mahmod Mohd Nor, 85, said the matches or "gesek", according to the Kelantan dialect, remained relevant as they were still used to lit a fire and also cigarette.

Although more and more people are now more comfortable using lighters, the sentimental value of the Kelantan-made matches makes the factory to continue with its production as there is always demand for the product.

"The light from the matchstick and the smell of the sulphur give a different feeling to consumers, not like when they lit a fire with a lighter.

"Local residents also prefer using matches to burn their rubbish and the quality of the Cap Lada matches produced in the factory have remained the same since 1933, it is one of the contributing factors why this product continues to be in the market," he said when met by Bernama recently.

On the history of Kelantan Match Factory, Mahmod said it is the longest and oldest factory and has been operating on a 1.13-hectare complex here since 1933, despite the owner having changed three times.

"There are three main factories in this complex, comprising one which produces the match boxes, the other, which produces the matchsticks and the third, the packaging section.

"Currently, the factory has more than 30 employees who work six days a week from 8 am to 5.30 pm. The factory is capable of producing about 96,000 boxes of matches a day," said Mahmud, who is a native of Kota Bharu.

Having worked in the factory, for 30 years, Mahmud is the best person to talk about the process of making matches.

The matchstick is made from a special type of wood which is imported from China, he said.

"There are seven steps to produce a 20 millimetre (mm) matchbox, each containing about 50 matchsticks. The manufacturing process is divided into two, one is to produce the boxes and the other, the matchsticks," he added.

According to Mahmod, the process of making the box starts at the outer box machine when a thin piece of wood is folded, glued and wrapped in paper before it is dried.

"The boxes are dried using a dryer machine for about 10 minutes before the process continues on the inner box machine to produce the inside of the box," he said.

The next step is to paste the label on the box, which is done by three workers.

"They will also also do the slide pasting on the box, which is to place the striking area on both sides of the boxes.

"The striking area has a mixture of carbide materials that will cause the match to light up when there is friction," said Mahmod.

According to him, to produce the matchsticks, the process is done in a different factory to avoid any unwanted incidents.

"The matchsticks are dipped into wax using a dipping machine. Then the head of the matchstick will be dipped in four ingredients, namely potassium chloride, starch, sulfur and silica before they are dried and put into a filling machine to be filled into the prepared matchboxes," he added.

Mahmod said when the boxes and matchsticks are ready, the two materials are sent to a packing machine for the packaging process and distributed nationwide.

As the only match factory still operating in the country, Mahmod said he is proud that they are still able to meet the demands of loyal fans.

He said, the factory used to produce special matches as souvenirs during the 1998 Commonwealth Games.