What is a glow stick, top 10 things to do with them and dangers?
by: Victor Caballero
Posted: Sept 16, 2008
Sponsor: Theglowpro.com - Wholesale pricing on glow sticks and flashing LED toys.
When you saw fireflies in your childhood, what came to your mind? Didn’t you catch them and keep with you for sometime as you enjoyed the light emission from its body? Don’t you think it is the same desire we had when we invented glow sticks? Yes, that is what I believe. Regardless of whether we are kids or adults, we all enjoy glow sticks and sometimes use them for getting important things done. Let’s have a look at what glow sticks are.
A glow stick is a plastic tube containing a glass vial. This glass vial contains substances when combined are capable of producing light as a result of a chemical reaction. So, the light is produced with no electricity at all. For glow stick to produce light, this chemical reaction should take place. For that, the plastic tube should be bent and glass vial needs to be broken. This allows the two chemicals to be mixed with each other producing fluorescent light. The two chemicals in the glow stick are identified as hydrogen peroxide and phenyl oxalate ester.
By adjusting the concentration of these two chemicals, manufacturers can make glow sticks that glow brightly for a shorter period of time or glow dimly for a longer period of time. Based on the intended use of glow sticks, concentration of two chemicals are determined. As an example, for the use of jungle tracking at night, a glow stick which is relatively dimmer can be used as it lasts long. In case such as a sudden power failure at night, a brighter glow stick may be helpful as it can be used to find your way through to reach a more reliable lighting source.
The glow of the stick also may differ based on the environment. Let me explain the background. When two chemicals react, there is very less heat generated and most of the time the energy is emitted as light. If any external heat is present, the reaction mechanism is accelerated producing brighter glow while reducing the life time of the glow stick. Therefore, if the glow stick is used in a hot environment, you will notice the extra brightness of glow and shorter life time of the stick. This happens in reverse if you glow a stick during a winter night. The brightness will be less but the glow stick will stick around for longer.
Let’s have a look at the top ten uses of glow sticks together with its general uses:
This is why glow sticks are mostly used worldwide. Due to the ability of producing light in the dark without the need for electricity or any other external factors, glow sticks have a greater mobility and safety. Also the ability of producing light in different colors makes parties colorful.
Glow sticks sales make their way to the top around Halloween. These are used for various Halloween demonstration and parties.
Since glow sticks are waterproof, divers use them extensively. Especially in the case of night diving or cave diving. As glow sticks are resistant to high pressure, divers can take them to great depths.
4. Military Activities
Military forces worldwide use glow sticks mainly for their night activities such as traveling through a dark area (ex: a jungle), identifying people, communicating in dark etc. According to the records, an estimated 15 million glow sticks are used annually by US defense forces alone.
It is well understood that camping sites do not have any external power sources as they lie deep within far out geographical areas. Glow sticks come in handy for campers as these sticks can be used for travelling at night or at camping sites.
6. Natural Disasters
Glow sticks are frequently used at the post natural disaster efforts as glow sticks are considered as the only safe light source due to the fact that they do not use any electricity to work and there is no danger of sparking.
7. Use in Explosive Environments
As glow sticks do not contain any form of electrical charges, batteries or filaments, they are safe to be used in explosive environments such as in the presence of petroleum gas leaks.
8. Night Vision
There are special glow sticks that emit infrared instead of visible light. These special glow sticks are used in conjunction with night vision devices. Most advanced militaries are equipped with this type of glow sticks.
9. At the Scenes of Accidents
Glow sticks are widely used at the scenes of accidents at night. Firstly, they are used for marking the perimeter of the accident so others can be aware of the lines that should not be crossed. Secondly, glow sticks are used for indicating the drivers to take alternative routes to avoid the scene of the accident.
10. As Emergency Lights
In case of a power failure at night, glow sticks can be used to look around for a more permanent light source such as a flash light or candles.
Now, let’s look at the dangers of glow sticks if not used as per the instructions of manufacturers.
When the chemical reaction takes place in the glow stick, phenol is produced as a by-product. Therefore, it is advised to keep the mixture away from skin in case if the glows stick case splits or breaks. If spilled on skin, it can cause reactions from skin irritations to vomiting and nausea. It is a widespread myth that glow stick chemicals cause cancers as no research has proved it, thus far. Wash with soap and water if the liquid comes in contact with your skin and flush eyes with cool water in case if it comes in to contact with eyes. Glow sticks should not be burnt as some chemicals in glow sticks are flammable. It’s also noteworthy to mention that chemicals in glow sticks do not have any drug-like effect, as opposed to the popular belief. So there is no point of smoking or ingesting the solution.
Sources of glowsticks:
Theglowpro.com - Wholesale pricing on glow sticks and flashing LED toys.