Courses for Kids
Free study material
Offline Centres
Store Icon

Why Does a Luminol Glow Stick Glow in the Dark?

By Puja RoyOctober 27, 2022
share icon

Science Explained Behind Glow in the Dark Toys

Do you want to know what is in glow sticks that make them glow in the dark? Are you interested in knowing the process behind developing these glow toys? Well, we are going to discuss that and much more right here.

Toys Glowing in The Dark

Toys Glowing in The Dark

Also, Read: How to Set Up a Children’s Playroom?

Talking about the twinkling lights on a string, complex crystal chandeliers, and as well as the soft glow from the nightshade lamp, there are so many different phenomena associated with the concept of light. Talking about light, we always look at it from the angle of Physics, which includes terms such as reflection, rays, and refraction.

However, what if we were told that there is an element of chemistry associated with some types of light? Would you believe us? Well, have you seen Luminol Glow Sticks? Well, this is what happens when light is mixed in with a little bit of Chemistry, for sure. Are you intrigued and want to know about the amazing phenomena of chemistry and light adding together? Well, this is your chance to explore what we know as “Chemiluminescence”. 

Illuminating the Concept of Chemiluminescence 

Chemiluminescence is one of the most common phenomena that takes place when the emission of light happens due to a particular chemical reaction. This is exactly what you see in glow sticks. In a particular reaction involving chemiluminescence, the product that is formed at the end of the reaction is always in the excited stage. Since this stage seems to be a lot unstable, the electrons that are present in the compound will do anything in order to gain some stability.

One of the best ways to do that is by losing some of the energy of the product. But Science says that energy cannot be created nor can it be destroyed; it can only be converted to another form. That is why, in order to attain the stability that it needs, the electrons of these compounds that are excited offer energy in the form of light. If you have even used neon bracelets or a glow stick, you will understand what we are talking about. 

Luminol Uses: Science Behind It 

When it comes to talking about the uses of chemiluminescence reactions, luminol is one of the most common names that come up for sure. This is a widely used chemiluminescence substance that is used in order to give the blue light effect in different glow in the dark toys. When luminol is mixed with an oxidizing agent, it starts to glow with a very calm blue light. One can actually see the effect in the dark with the amazing light toys that there are.

This particular reaction can take place if luminol is in contact with blood as well. When the iron from the haemoglobin manages to oxidize the luminol, it starts to glow. This is something that forensic scientists tend to use a lot during their investigation of crime scenes. Using luminal during the investigation will bring out any traces of blood in the dark which not be visible during the daytime. 

How Do Glow Sticks Work? 

Have you ever used glow in the dark sticks or other toys that tend to emit some kind of light when it is dark? Well, it is due to the chemiluminescent reactions that take place in the toys in the first place. Since the reaction is completely safe and is able to illuminate surroundings sometimes, the glow sticks are also actually used by military personnel and policemen during different rescue operations.

In locations where there isn’t enough light, the glow-in-the-dark colours will emit a calming light that will help the police and military to see in the dark. If you want to test out the amazing ability of chemiluminescence using glow sticks, you can actually try the whole thing at home. 

The reactions of chemiluminescence tend to speed up when there is an increase in the temperature. However, the light that they emit, while stronger, will not be able to last very long for sure. In case you want to test it out, put the glow stick in some hot water. You will see that the light has turned brighter, but it will just die in some time. However, if you place the glow stick into a freezer while the light is dimmer, you will see that it lasts for a very long time. Doesn’t that sound absolutely amazing? 

So, how to use glow sticks in the first place? Well, in some cases, you might have to hit the glow stick on a surface and sometimes, just shaking the glow stick will cause the chemical reaction to take place inside, thus emitting the light. 

Bioluminescence: Lighting in the Nature 

Did you know that different chemiluminescence reactions tend to take place in various living organisms as well? When such a reaction occurs in living organisms, it is termed bioluminescence. Different insects, animals, and fungi are able to glow properly in the dark, all thanks to the chemiluminescence reactions that are efficiently taking place in their body.

In fact, it can often be seen as a benefit for the organisms as they can use this property of glowing in the dark to illuminate the surroundings and tackle danger using camouflage as well. Some organisms even use this effect to attract a mate or lure prey. One of the most common examples of animals that tend to glow in the dark include fireflies. 

Also, Jellyfishes are among the common aquatic animals that have bioluminescence reactions in their body. Blue-green light is definitely one of the most popular forms of bioluminescence that is found in marine animals. However, land animals tend to emit yellowish light sometimes. 


So, now you know why certain things seem to glow in the dark. With this article, you have also understood how to make glow sticks glow and use them to your advantage. So, go ahead and try it right now to see results.