Q:

What are glow sticks made of?

A:

Quick Answer

A glow stick is made up of two tubes: an outer, flexible plastic tube and an inner, smaller tube made of brittle glass. Both tubes contain liquid compounds that create the glowing effect when mixed together.

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What are glow sticks made of?
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Full Answer

The outer plastic tube contains phenyl oxalate ester and fluorescent dye solution, while the inner glass tube contains hydrogen peroxide solution. To activate the glowing effect, the inner glass tube is broken by bending. When the glow stick is shaken vigorously, the hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the phenyl oxalate ester in a reaction called chemiluminescence, which releases energy in the form of light.

The duration and intensity of the light emitted by the glow stick can be determined by the concentrations of the compounds contained in the two tubes. Heating an already activated glow stick intensifies the brightness of the light but shortens its duration, while cooling it dims the light but extends its duration.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do glow sticks work?

    A:

    According to Mental Floss, the luminescence inside glow sticks comes from a chemical reaction between two substances that releases energy as light. The exact chemical makeup of a glow stick can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but most use hydrogen peroxide and a chemical called a diphenyl oxalate ester. When the two liquids mix inside the glow stick, they produce a light colored by a phosphorescent dye.

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  • Q:

    Who invented glow sticks?

    A:

    The U.S. Navy invented glow sticks. The earliest patent was secured in 1965, while later patents were filed by Navy inventors for more advanced versions of the devices. Glow sticks are temporary light sources consisting of translucent plastic tubing that holds glowing chemicals.

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    Are glow sticks toxic?

    A:

    Glow sticks contain dibutyl phthalate, which has a low toxicity to humans, according to Carolinas Poison Center. The Pet Poison Helpline, however, states that this substance has a mild to moderate toxicity to cats.

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    How can someone make water glow?

    A:

    To make water glow, tonic water, a black light, two clear plastic cups, a medicine dropper and some bleach are needed. While the black light makes tonic water glow, adding bleach to it reduces the glow.

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