Who doesn’t love stuff that glows in the dark in uber cool colors? No one, that’s who! So why not talk about something that many of us have seen at parties, handed out at school, or used in the “real world”? Glow sticks are sometimes relied upon for military use, police use, fire use, and EMS operations, along with the recreational uses.
Glow sticks contain fluorescent dyes called sensitizer and and fluouphor. The dyes are mixed with hydrogen peroxide and contained in a plastic tube. These can be combined in a variety of ways with different ratios to produce a brighter, shorter glow, or a dimmer, longer light. One site writes, “Putting the glow stick in a cooler environment slows down the reaction which creates a dimmer glow that will last longer. In contrast, placing the glow stick in a hotter environment will exaggerate the glow but will shorten the lifespan.” The dyes, obviously, show the color, and then the other two are chemicals that, when combined, give off light. A common combination of chemicals is hydrogen peroxide and phenyl oxalate ester, plus the fluorescent dye. Glow sticks are encased with a glass vial on the inside and on the outside have a plastic tube. To activate them, you bend the plastic so it breaks the glass, creating a reaction contained safely inside the plastic!
So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!