glow sticks

Making Glow Sticks at Home is Fairly Easy

By Anupum Pant

Glow sticks or Light Sticks are so much fun and assuming you are able to get the required chemicals from a lab supply shop (online or offline), making them at home is as simple as mixing tang.
I came across this interesting video which teaches you how to make glow sticks at home. The best thing: You don’t have to worry about mixing exact measurements. An experiment definitely worth a try!

As the video tells you in the beginning, making these at home will cost you more than a ready-made glow stick. That is because the chemicals required to make it cost much lesser when bought in bulk. Nevertheless, it should be fun to try at home. If you can’t watch it, I’ve mentioned everything in detail below. [video]

1. SOLVENT: The first thing you need is Diethyl Phthalate (DEP). It is a fairly common substance because it is used a lot in detergent, sprays, cosmetics industries. Although it is clear and looks almost like water, you should avoid touching it with bare skin. In fact, none of these chemicals should be touched. Gloves are extremely important here. DEP will be your main solvent. All the magic will happen in it.

2. COLORS: The second part of making glow sticks involves the color. For this, you’ll need something called the fluorescent dyes. The ones used in the video are:

  • 9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene for Green – Orange in solid state.
  • Rubrene for Yellow – Red in solid state.
  • 9,10-diphenylanthracene for Blue – White in solid state.
  • and Rhodamine B for Red – Green in solid state.
  • Mix the blue and Yellow solutions for the white glow stick.

3. ENERGY: To make enough energy to light it up you’ll need a mixture of three chemicals. The first one is TCPO (DNPO or CPPO can also be used). It is an expensive chemical. It can be made for much cheaper [video]
The second chemical is added to keep the liquid in alkaline state. Sodium Acetate (Remember Hot Ice).
In the end, you add, Hydrogen peroxide and shake to give the final glow. It acts as an oxidizing agent, reacts to form an unstable compound, which excites the dye to an excited state. The dye emits light when it comes back to the ground state. This is the reason you need Fluorescent dyes – normal dyes won’t work.

For more of such interesting chemistry tricks do subscribe to NurdRage on Youtube.

To make a permanent Glow Stick

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