Make Your Own Glow Stick the Scientific Way

The weekend proved to be an enlightening one for me – both literally and figuratively. A friend attended local poi event and we hung out after. Seeing the photos and hearing the stories, I wish that I had gone! Not that I have any talent for that kind of thing, but watching those amazing performances would have made for a nice evening.

In any case, the omnipresent glow lights caught my eye. The last time I had fun with these little glowing sticks was more than 10 years ago probably, but anyone who has had a late night experience playing with glow lights (with some spirits – the liquid kind – inside of you) will know that it is easy enough to imagine yourself back in that state.

What if you were to make your own glow sticks or lamps? I found the perfect video tutorial for this, courtesy of NurdRage.

The expert gives you a detailed list of ingredients:

  • 10mL Diethyl Phthalate (solvent)
  • 3mg of fluorescent dye (The fluorescent dye can be 9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene for green, Rubrene for yellow, 9,10-diphenylanthracene for blue, and rhodamine B for red.)
  • 50mg TCPO (see below)
  • 100mg sodium acetate
  • 3mL 30% hydrogen peroxide (add last to start reaction)

There’s a disclaimer, though: it is way more expensive to acquire glow sticks this way as opposed to just buying ones that are already made.  This is because TCPO, the key ingredient, is quite expensive.  NurdRage does have a separate video tutorial to teach you how to make it (TCPO Tutorial).

If anything, this video can prove to be useful on a boring Saturday evening.  I highly doubt it will be a feasible source of glow sticks for your occasional party needs.  Still, it is always fun to see how things work.  By the way, I should warn you that the guy making the demonstration is not the “most alive” guy I’ve ever listened to.

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