Glow sticks

Glow sticks
Bridget Pyryt
Rebecca Matmon
What is a glow stick?
A glow stick is a self-contained, short-term lightsource. In order to activate a lightstick, you bend
the plastic stick, which breaks the glass vial.
After that, the light cannot be turned off, and
can be used only once. Glow sticks are often
used for recreation, but may also be relied upon
for light during military, police, fire, or EMS
What makes them work?
Light is generated by a chemical reaction called
“chemiluminescence". Typical glow sticks as chemical
reactants use: a hydrogen peroxide solution which is
called the "activator", a solution of phenyl oxalate ester
and a fluorescent dye which makes the color. The
activator is stored in a thin glass capsule. When the glass
capsule is broken by flexing a glow stick, the activator is
released, and mixing the components by shaking the glow
stick to initiate the reaction. Depending on components
used, the chemical reaction can last from a few minutes
to many hours. Heating the glow sticks will speed up the
reaction, but will shorten the glow time.
How does it work?
The chemical reaction in a light stick usually
involves several different steps. A typical
commercial light stick holds a hydrogen
peroxide solution and a solution containing a
phenyl oxalate ester and a fluorescent dye.
Here's the sequence of events when the two
solutions are combined:
The hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the
phenyl oxalate ester, resulting in a
chemical called phenol and an unstable
peroxyacid ester.
The unstable peroxyacid ester
decomposes, resulting in additional
phenol and a cyclic peroxy compound.
The cyclic peroxy compound
decomposes to carbon dioxide.
This decomposition releases energy to
the dye.
The electrons in the dye atoms jump to
a higher level, then fall back down,
releasing energy in the form of light.
• The idea of glow sticks originally came from the
idea of fireflies. Fireflies create their own light
during mating season and it was later learned
that they are using a chemical called luciferin as a
fuel source.
• A young chemist name Edwin A. Chandros of Bell
Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey first invented
chemical luminescence in 1960. He conducted
lots of researches to imitate fireflies and look for
ways on how to produce mankind’s own light
source. The glow stick was about to be born!
There are three components of a lightstick.
There need to be two chemicals that interact to
release energy and also a fluorescent dye to
accept this energy and convert it into light.
• Hydrogen peroxide
• Phenyl oxalate ester
• Fluorescent dye
(Specific fluorescent dyes must be added to the light sticks to
release a certain colored light)
Rhodamine 6G
Rhodamine B
Although red fluorophors such as Rhodamine B are available, red-emitting light sticks
tend not to use them in the oxalate reaction. The red fluorophors are not very stable
when stored with the other chemicals in the light sticks. Instead, a fluorescent red
pigment is molded into the plastic tube that encases the light stick chemicals. The
red-emitting pigment absorbs the light from the high yield (bright) yellow reaction
and re-emits it as red. This results in a red light stick that is approximately twice as
bright as it would have been had the light stick used the red fluorophor in the
Common Questions?
How long do they last?
Glow in the dark products will glow 5 to 12 hours,
depending on size, color, type and the ambient air
How to store light sticks?
Glow sticks should be stored in a cool dry place, in
their original packaging, away from direct sunlight.
Heat and humidity will shorten their life span.
Does temperature affect the glow time?
Yes, it does. Higher temperatures will make glow
stick glow brighter but will shorten the glow time.
With lower temperatures the glow will be a little bit
duller but will glow for a longer period of time.
Glowsticks give maximum bright light when used at
temperatures ranging from 59°F-100°F. If the
temperature is higher than 100°F, bright light will be
at the maximum but the length of glow will decrease.
If less than 59°F, bright light will be minimal but the
length of glow will be increased
What happens if I get the chemicals on my
With normal use this is not an issue, but if you
happen to puncture the outer tube and get
fluid on your clothes simply wash with warm
soapy water. In case of accidental spillage:
* Skin/Body - wash affected area with water.
* Clothing - Wash stained area with warm
soapy water and allow soaking for 24 hrs if
stain remains dry cleaning is advised.
* Contact with skin or eyes may cause
temporary discomfort. It is not recommended
for products be broken or liquid poured onto
skin. Our products are safe for all users though
we recommend that children under 5 must
have adult supervision. Do not puncture or
split open.

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