Sunday, July 20, 2008

How Glow Sticks Work

Author: Mrs. Party ... Gail Leino

How Glow Sticks Work...

Glow sticks are fun party supplies .  When sending out your party invitations , think of the interesting Chemistry involved with your party favors .  Glow sticks work by a chemical reaction called ""chemiluminescence"" which causes light to be generated.  (That's a trivia question for some party games !)  By breaking up the word chemiluminescence into 2 parts, chemi and luminescence we can better understand.

Luminescence is emission of light not caused by a rise in temperature (the object emitting light stays cold). The light is released by atoms returning from ""excited"" (charged) state to normal ""ground"" state.  It means, an object which glows, first must absorb energy to get into ""excited state.""  That energy will be released (in form of light) by the object returning to the ground state of energy.  The energy can be supplied in many ways, but in our particular case of glow sticks the energy is supplied by a chemical reaction (what makes the ""chemi"" in chemiluminescence).  Typical glow sticks as chemical reactants use a hydrogen peroxide solution (which is called the ""activator""), a solution of phenyl oxalate ester and a fluorescent dye (which makes the color).  The activator is stored in a thin glass capsule.  When the glass capsule is broken by flexing a glow stick the activator is released, and mixing the components (shaking the glow stick) initiates the reaction.  Depending on components used, the chemical reaction can last (glow sticks can glow) from a few minutes to many hours.  When using glow sticks as party supplies , wait until that last moment to shake them.  Heating the glow sticks(providing extra energy) will speed up the reaction, what will result in brighter light but will shorten the glow time.  The reaction will slow down in low temperatures the light will dim, but the glow time will be longer. For any party theme including Mardi Gras party , Luau Party , Cowboy Hats theme, Character party , Bridal Showers , Super Bowl , Baby Showers , Wedding or a holiday event like Christmas , Hanukkah or Halloween remember to include light sticks and Turn Out the Lights!

About the author: Mrs. Party... Gail Leino is the internet's leading authority on giving the best possible party , using proper etiquette and manners while also teaching organizational skills and fun facts.


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