So why does the Jello glow? Quinine (an ingredient in tonic water) is a fluorescent substance. These substances absorb ultraviolet light and then re-emit it. The light emitted has a longer wavelength than the one absorbed which makes the light visible and causes quinine to glow. When you substitute tonic water for regular tap water when making the Jello, it adds the quinine which adds the glow. It is better to use light-colored Jello for maximum glow.
There are some safety consideration to address when working with carbonated drinks and hot stove-top surfaces. First of all, use caution when opening tonic water. If it has been shaken, the lid might fly off and the water overflow. Secondly, always be safe around hot stove-tops. Do not allow children around a hot stove and use caution when working with hot liquid.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
*Jello (light-colored Jello such as Lemon or Lime will work best for this project)
*16oz of tonic water
*Liquid measuring cup
*Small pot for boiling water
*Small Table Lamp with fluorescent blacklight (The blacklight must be fluorescent and not simply a colored bulb. It can be purchased at most Wal-Mart locations for around $4.00)
Step 2: Measure Out Tonic Water
Safety: Use caution when removing the lid from the tonic water. If the water has been shaken, the lid will shoot off and overflow. Allow for the water to settle if the bottle is under pressure.
Step 3: Pour Tonic Water Into Pot
Step 4: Turn Stove Burner on High
Step 5: Pour Jello Packet Into Mixing Bowl
Step 6: Pour Boiling Water Into Mixing Bowl
Safety: Pot will be hot! If the pot is too hot to grab, use a potholder to remove the water from the burner.
Step 7: Stir Until Dissolved
Step 8: Add Cold Water
Alternate method: If you would like your Jello to glow more brightly, add one cup of cold tonic water instead of tap water. However, doing this will make the Jello taste more bitter than normal.