Posts Tagged ‘how glow sticks work’

The science behind glow sticks

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Glow sticks have become a well-recognized product all over the world. They’re inexpensive, easy to use, and they provide a simple form of entertainment as well as a strong source of light. They’ve staked their claim in concerts, dances, night time events of all kinds, and much more. Premier Glow sells a wide range of glow sticks and related products in many colors and sizes. But have you ever wondered how glow sticks actually work? Let’s take a look at what’s going on inside of a glow stick when you crack them to activate the light.

Glow sticks were actually developed to prove the possibility of something known as chemiluminescence. A chemist named Edwin Chandross first developed them in 1960s while working under government contract. He used them to prove that a chemical reaction can create an intense source of light without emitting heat. This is an extremely useful tool that is still used today – and glow sticks are the main way we see it happening. So what actually happens when a glow stick activates, and how does it work?

Glow sticks are made up of two chemical solutions separated by a tube. The first solution is hydrogen peroxide, which is usually the substance separated by the tube (usually glass). The second is a combination of phenyl oxalate ester and fluorescent dye. The hydrogen peroxide acts as a catalyst or activator to the dye solution, so when the two solutions mix with one another once you’ve broken the inner tube, the dye lights up. This works for many colors of dye, although interestingly enough, blue dye appears clear before it is activated.

Science has led to the development of all manner of fun, simple, and effective tools – glow sticks are just one of them!