Glow sticks generate light with very little heat, just like the glow you see from fireflies, jellyfish, and a few species of fungi. Chemiluminescence means light that comes from a chemical reaction. When this happens in animals and plants, it’s called bioluminescence.

In a glow stick, when you bend it to activate it, you’re breaking a little glass tube inside which contains hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The tube itself is filled with another chemical (phenyl oxalate ester and a fluorescent dye) that is kept separate from the H2O2, because as soon as they touch, they begin to react. The dye in the light stick is what gives the light its color.

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33 Responses to “Cool Blue Light Chemiluminescence Experiment”

  1. Aurora Lipper says:

    Tiny bubbles may have formed as you added the perborate, which caused it to move around. This can also be due to Brownian motion (or pedesis, from the Greek word for “leaping”). Brownian motion is the random movement of particles in a medium (or liquid), which is caused by the random movement of molecules in that medium.

  2. Enjoyed this experiment. We noticed that when we put the percarbonate mixture in that the particles would jump around. Why is this? Thanks!

  3. Aurora Lipper says:

    Yes indeed, bleach acts as a catalyst in this activity.

  4. sanmartindayacademy says:

    Is the bleach acting as a catalyst in this reaction?

  5. This item is listed in the excel/PDF download as optional if you’d like to do this experiment. It’s not a requirement, and there’s a special link to purchase it in the material list file for Advanced CHemistry.

  6. kuplinger says:

    I’m disappointed to purchase yet another item. We had been told all we needed was the Chem C1000 kit in May/June. Science class is adding up very quickly….I hope there are no more surprise costs this year.

  7. We used the mixture from a glowstick to demonstrate the glowing fluid that we show on camera. So that color will look a little different that your experiment using the chemicals in this kit.

  8. rachelmusictherapy says:

    Why did the penny reaction turn purple but the CuSO4*5H2O turn blue?

  9. leeann_brodeur says:

    that was so cool ! i love that sience too.thank you amara.

  10. No, unfortunately not. Since the light is created out of two chemicals that react with each other (the energy from the bonds of the molecules goes into making the light), you need chemicals in order to do this.

  11. Alison Bruno says:

    is there any other way to make a glow stick with out the chemicals?

  12. I’ll get that fixed right away! Usually it’s because they moved the page and didn’t have a forwarding link.

  13. Melissa Heath says:

    I found the “Into to Chemistry Kit” on the home science tools website, for $99. This looks pretty good! Maybe this is where the link was supposed to take me from your Unit 8 shopping list. Thank you!

  14. Melissa Heath says:

    Hi Aurora, at you recommendation, I checked out the Unit 8 basic chemistry kit shopping list and clicked on the link for the Glassware Set to buy my son, but the link comes up empty… a 404 error. I’m guessing they do not have the set anymore? πŸ™

  15. I would recommend this for students interested in chemistry and have an adult handy to help them with the chemicals. Make sure you read over the instructions carefully and watch the video so you’re able to perform the experiments safely (so you can go on to do more science in the future!)

  16. Kelli Kruid says:

    Would you only recommend doing this with older students ????

  17. Kelli Kruid says:

    That is so cool !!!!!

  18. Good question! There is actually a variation of this experiment where bleach is substituted for the hydrogen peroxide. In this variation, the reaction takes place much faster and the light is even brighter!

  19. Kelli Kruid says:

    Hey Aurora I was just wondering what would happen if you added one drop of pure bleach into the light solution.

  20. Which experiment from Halloween were you wanting to do?

  21. DANIEL McLendon says:

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO COOL ! OH and by the way the hallowen experimants are GONE i wanted to do more : (

  22. You should have a complete detailed description inside the instruction booklet that came with the materials for the kit. It’s quite extensive, so if you have a specific question, please let me know!

  23. Melissa Frederiksen says:

    Where can we find a description of what is happening in this reaction please? We really want to know more about it! πŸ™‚

  24. Melissa Frederiksen says:

    So… if we heat the Luminal-perborat-copper sulfate- mixture…would it become brighter? or just react faster?

  25. No unfortunately not. I added this experiment after I put together the Diamond program, but you can purchase it for about $10 using the order link on the shopping list.

  26. Jettie Daly says:

    Is the cool blue light kit included with the diamond package?

  27. You won’t be able to solidify it, but you can slow the reaction down and watch it glow dimmer when you put it in the freezer.

  28. You’re basically short-circuiting the microwave, because there’s no place for the energy to go so it starts to cook itself. Good call on your part for asking and not just doing it yourself.

  29. Gabriele Pealer says:

    I have another question:) What would happen if you were to freeze this Luminal-perborat-copper sulfate- mixture?

  30. Gabriele Pealer says:

    Hi this question doesn’t have anything to do with the experiment, but I was thinking about it and can’t actually find out myself because the results could be possibly hazardous. What would happen if you were to microwave a penny? Or maybe a quarter? πŸ˜€

    Thank you! I love it so much how I can ask any question and get a quick answer!

  31. So glad you enjoyed the content! It’s the same experiment only without the right lighting in the studio. πŸ™‚

  32. Kathleen Hignight says:

    Thanks sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much for the class!

  33. Kathleen Hignight says:

    The end is sooooooooooooooo funny! What were you doing? Testing a glow stick?
    I am DEFINETLY going to do that one! What a cool idea! An on the glow light stick! Me and my family are moving across the country in June and that is a good idea for me and my sister to read at night! When will our suppies arive? Any date? You know, the ones that come free with the program?