Picture of Jars of Glowing Spirits
Glowing spirits aside, this project can be described in a single line: "A 9-volt battery powering a pulsating circuit that drives a UV LED to illuminate fluorescent-dyed water in a spray-painted mason jar."

Circuit components:
• 3cm x 7cm double-sided blank PCB [USD12 for 20pcs from eBay]
• 0.5W 30000mcd 8mm 5-chip straw hat UV LED [USD34 for 50pcs from eBay]
• Resistors 2.2kΩ 1/4W, 4.1Ω 1/4W, 100Ω 1/2W
• Capacitor 1.5mF 10V
• BC337 transistor
• 555-timer IC
• DIP8 IC socket
• N/O reed switch
• Strong rare-earth magnet
• 9V battery connector
• 9V battery
• Wires & soldering kit

Other materials:
• Wildfire’s Luminescent Water Dyes [USD28 for 5 0.2oz bottles from]
• Frosted glass spray [from Home Depot]
• Gold spray paint [from Home Depot]
• Wide-mouth mason jar with 3-1/8" opening
• Ziploc freezer bag

With that long parts list, what you end up with is an innocent looking jar filled with a coloured liquid. No circuit or battery is visible since the liquid filling all the way to the top, along with the frosted glass coating, appear as opaque and completely hide the illuminating assembly. Since the jar is sealed, the on/off switch is our small rare-earth magnet, which you place on the metallic lid to get the spirits glowing. The fluorescing colour differs from the natural colour of the dyed water, so a beautiful gradient is formed when the jars glow.

I have yet to run out of battery on any of these. According to the math, a 9V battery would last about 5 hours, and it can be easily replaced. You can complete one of these jars in a day or two. However, some parts are easier purchased in bulk, so you may as well build a big family with all the different colours ;)
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SeanM32 months ago

where did you guys get the miniature mason jars (in the picture at the very top of the page)?

SparkySolar5 months ago

I love this instructable thank you so much

andresfrr1 year ago
andresfrr1 year ago
I have had great fun using Prestone anti freeze and gelatin in a few of my projects the marker ink as mentioned works well in small quantities too.
I have also used hand sanitizer as a base
I'm thinking of using glow powder and setting the flash rate to very slow
Even one flash a minute would be quite bright in the after glow
Thanks so much for a great project
Nerade1 year ago
I'm about to build those awesome looking jars. I have set up a simulation but the NE555 does not oscillate. How is the capacitor initially charged? It is only connected to the OUT of the NE555 which is LOW. What is my mistake here?
Finding Pie (author)  Nerade1 year ago
Ahh... it's been a while since I designed this circuit, and I didn't get a chance to run a simulation. I will try my best to explain this :)

First of all, this circuit is based on a configuration similar to the "Minimum Component Astable" described in Section 4.2 of

According to the frequency formula for this circuit:

frequency = 0.72 / (2.2kΩ x 1.5 mF) = 0.22Hz

At this low frequency, we can cheap out on the 10nF resistor on pin 5, and end up with our "Very Minimum Component Astable" configuration.

Here is a very nice video that explains how a similarly configured 555-timer works:

A cool animation for that circuit:

And lastly, the pinouts for your reference:

Hope that helps, and feel free to post your simulated circuit so I can have a look. I am obviously not an expert building circuits, with my pen-and-paper schematics and solder-formed traces, so please let me know if you guys have any suggestions for the circuit.
First - really cool idea. The 555 is a pretty simple circuit, but this is a very clever thing to do with it. Love the reed switch, too.

Now, while I'm waiting for my components to arrive, I've SPICE'd the circuit, but I'm not getting any oscillation either.

As far I can tell, if we ignore the BJT amplifier portion of the circuit, the only way this differs from a generic 555 circuit is that there are no resistors between pins 7+8 and 6+7. I tried inserting resistors there in simulation, but to no avail.

Other than that, the only other thing that occurs to me is that the voltage drop across a UV LED is NOT your standard .7-.8V. .....but even so....the simulation should be showing some oscillation on pin 3.


Attached is my simulated circuits, your design and a generic 555, both with voltage plots of pin 3.
Finding Pie (author)  batfish551 year ago
Thanks for posting the sim results. I agree with you that all the components here are pretty standard, except for the UV LED, which seems to have a rather high forward voltage. I have attached the specs for the UV LED.

I also posted a similar circuit from, which uses a standard LED and gives much higher frequency pulses. I wonder if you will get oscillations in the sim with the components that they use.

agis681 year ago
lovely and simple
KiltLifter1 year ago
Very Cool!
Have you tested (or calculated) how long the battery will last?
Finding Pie (author)  KiltLifter1 year ago
According to the calculations, 5-6 hours. We used them for decor at our wedding and left them on for > 4 hours, the battery still hasn't run out. So experimental results: at least 4+ hours with the $1 battery shown in the pictures.

A larger capacity battery will of course last a few hours longer too.
My wedding is in 23 days. Any way I can buy them off you? I've already built a photobooth and EL wire dance project. I just don't have time to take on any more projects due to lack of time. if you're curious about the projects.

Finding Pie (author)  funkytaco1 year ago
Wow looks like you got many projects going on. Great work on the photo booth! Unfortunately we gave out many of these after our wedding and would like to keep the rest for ourselves. Sorry.

And congrats on the upcoming wedding!
Mr. Noack1 year ago
Very cool! Got my vote!
Finding Pie (author)  Mr. Noack1 year ago
thank you
muchas gracias
I'm using this for my next drug test!
makermike1 year ago
Nice instructable! I like the use of the reed switch and magnet to keep the jars sealed.

One other source of fluorescent dye is to crack open a highlighter pen, pull out the felt piece containing the ink and soak it in water for a while. Most UV LEDs will get it fluorescing. You might not be able to find as wide a variety of colors than buying the concentrated dyes, but it's a lot cheaper!
racster1 year ago
Yes, that's true: freezing does work. It's what we do with all of my kids' glow sticks.
Though it doesn't work forever...
ldavis101 year ago
Just in time for our Halloween Mad Scientist Lab!
Thank you!
action pig1 year ago
This is very, very cool :)
I have read many blogs where they claim that FREEZING the jars with the used glow-stick goo will revive them! Worth a try. Also saw one done with a piece of TULLE (the netting for skirts etc) stuffed inside and then sprinkled with glitter---now THAT looked amazing as the glow stick goo stuck to the glitter and the almost invisible netting and looked suspended.

These are perhaps beyond my skill level but look VERY COOL!
Just a note about trimming PCBs: Some PCBs are paper-based, so may be cut with scissors, but some are fibreglass (which will totally blunt scissors), so should be cut with (for example) a grinding disc on a dremel. (But DON'T breathe the dust !)
Finding Pie (author)  ElectroFrank1 year ago
Thank you for the tip, didn't know that!
If you use a normally closed reed switch your magnet would become the off switch. Then when it's sitting around on nobody sees a magnet stuck to the jar lid. Good luck and keep creating.
Finding Pie (author)  Too Many Projects1 year ago
N/O reed switch -> N/C reed switch!!!!!

Then you also won't have to think about where to hide all these magnets when the jars are off, which is 99.9% of the time.

Wish I thought of that ;)

Thank you!
emer_311 year ago
It's a great project for the weekend. Thanks for your work.
DUO00371 year ago
Soooo cool! I love it soooo much! I HAVE to make one of those.
parisusa1 year ago
This is way better than the glow sticks broken open into a jar with glitter (fairy dust, I think, it's called). Once the glow stick stops glowing you've got a jar-full of yuck! :)
ajensen191 year ago
Very cool. Have you seen any tutorials on making glow sticks? You might like this video on wine bottle cutting: You can make your own designs and cut out the bottle in different shapes.
ehudwill1 year ago
Great job!
It's beautiful and nice, if I want to make something to give my girlfriend,It maybe a good choice.