Breaking Bright! D-I-Y Glowsticks for Science Nerds

Chemist Nerds, use your powers for good and fabulousity!

breaking bad

Reposted from nerds far more diligent than I am, who say:

I stumbled across this randomly on YouTube today and had to share. The first 3/4 of the video are a chemistry experiment breakdown of what goes into a glow stick and what each of those ingredients is meant to do. But what makes me LOVE it is that, at the end, all of this coalesces into a fine explanation of the difference between light-absorbing dyes and fluorescent dyes. Come for the glow-stick “how to”, stay for the better understanding of how light works and how it influences what you see!

We show how to make glow sticks and go through all the chemicals needed as well as how to make different colors. We also talk about the chemistry and scientifically research a proposed mechanism.

To make the glow stick mix together the following:

10mL Diethyl Phthalate (solvent)
3mg of fluorescent dye (see below)
50mg TCPO (see below)
100mg sodium acetate
3mL 30% hydrogen peroxide (add last to start reaction)

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.

TCPO is expensive to buy but can be made for much cheaper by following the directions in our previous video:

The chemicals, including the ones to make TCPO were purchased from alfa aesar:

The Rhodamine B and Rubrene dyes were instead purchased from sigma Aldrich:

The dyes and TCPO are carcinogenic and gloves should be worn when handling them.

The TCPO and sodium acetate amounts can be varied considerably and still obtain good light. Smaller quantities tend to be dimmer and decay faster, while larger quantities last longer.

So there you glow- I mean GO! Homeschoolers knock yourselves out (just not literally).

Up up and Away,
Sunshine Superboy


One Response to “Breaking Bright! D-I-Y Glowsticks for Science Nerds”

  1. aboynamedstew Says:

    Totally unrelated, but I was reading an article about this (sounds like self-taught) DIY mapper who proposed a new PA redistricting map that was used by the State Supreme Court as an example to toss out the previous committee-drawn redistricting map as too complicated, partisan, and unconstitutional. Sorta dry, I know, but definitely some citizen activism upending government-as-usual.

    Amanda Holt’s blog about her process:

    Pgh Post-Gazette article that turned me onto it: http://

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