Introduction: LEDS. Make Them Glow When They Are Not Turned On.

Picture of LEDS.  Make Them Glow When They Are Not Turned On.

I just recently bought some green glow dust (glows in the dark) from Solar Color Dust.

This and clear nail polish is all you need to turn regular white light LEDS in to glow in the dark LEDS.

Step 1: More Colors

Picture of More Colors

Here are more colors: Green, banana, blue, aqua, lime, orangsicle, peach, cotton candy, papaya, blueberry.

Green, blue and Aqua are the only colors that look pure white when lit up and when off but not charged. The rest have a noticeable color other than white when lit up and not charged when viewed not directly in the beam. The colors are a little washed out in the pictures of the leds when lit up but are actually quite noticeable.

All of them shine a pure white beam of light with no noticeable tint in the white circle of light.

Violet and lilac did not work well in this application.

Aqua and green have the brightest glow.

Banana glows green according to my eyes.

Blue and blueberry are dim.

Step 2: Paint and Dust

Picture of Paint and Dust

Just Paint the underside of a LED with clear nail polish. Then quickly, before the nail polish starts to dry, sprinkle / dump a lot of glow dust on the underside of the led. Then point the led down so the excess dust falls off. Save the dust that falls off. It is still usable for the next led. Let the led dry and power it up. If you think the led needs another coat then repeat the above steps.

Step 3: Glow Leds in Use

Picture of Glow Leds in Use

The first picture shows the LEDS getting charged up on my led tester box. As you can see from the next picture, the glow from the led can be seen in normal room lighting. 

Adding a little glow dust to your next LED flashlight project could be fun and it could help you find your flashlight in the dark.








Kiteman (author)2013-07-15

That's a good idea - you could completely coat a UV LED in the powder fir a brighter glow.

But, could you make the spam in step 3 a bit more subtle?

billbillt (author)2013-06-25


Advar (author)2013-02-19

This would be awwwwsome for Steampunk gadgets, Sith chestplates, Ironman, Samhain, pc cases... okay, I'll shut up now :)

luxstar (author)Advar2013-02-19

Yes, and electric jewelry, signs that stay lit after a power outage, low current LED projects that power the LEDS one tenth of the time with a cyclic recharge pulse.

Advar (author)luxstar2013-02-20

Lol! Alright already showoff, don't blow a fuse! (Joke)

Honda Enoch (author)2012-09-19

Neat, but why?

luxstar (author)Honda Enoch2012-09-19

Hello Honda Enoch,

I think you answered your own question.

It reminds me of a Dave Barry article I read where Dave writes about reading an article about the worlds biggest rubber band airplane. He says guys will read that and go “cool” and girls will read that and go “why”. Anyway, I can’t speak for anyone else but I like LEDS. I like them for more than their utilitarian value. That is just one of the reasons why I made 5 different super capacitor flashlight. I can enjoy them and not spend money on batteries. I also like things that glow in the dark. So this puts 2 things I like together in one package. .My wife and kid like them too. Years ago my wife asked me to make here a flashlight that you could select between multiple colors of leds. I have made her 3 different UV flashlights (one was just not enough). She has made glow in the dark nail polish with the glow dust and we have things all over the place that have been painted with the stuff. From the practical standpoint, I had no problem finding “Ray”, my 400 farad super cap flashlight when my alarm went off at 5 am. Ray was still emitting a faint aqua glow.

luxstar (author)2012-09-17

10mm multichip LED charged at 80 milliamps, Painted with Aqua glow dust.

luxstar (author)2012-09-12


Nail polish is cheap but if that does not work you could try polyurethane in a small can (minwax for coating furniture) or clear krylon. Just spray it in a cup to use it as a liquid.  Both are cheap and easy to find

hammertong (author)luxstar2012-09-17

Just don't use a styrofoam cup. Most spraypaints dissolve the foam right away, leaving you with a big mess.

luxstar (author)2012-09-16

Two greens trying to be a reading light.

luxstar (author)2012-09-16

Shown is a close up of the first 4 LEDS: Green, banana, blue, and aqua,

Aqua wins!

luxstar (author)2012-09-16

I updated this instructable. The original version showed only green. 


Oooh you can do half and half, one half of the back is cotton candy and the other side is aqua. The picture of the pink led is not glowing. The ones that have dust that look tinted (not white) when not charged make the leds look tinted in ambient light when not glowing. Notice that the there are areas of the led that look pink and areas that look clear. The pattern of tint changes with the angle that you view the led.

Closer (author)2012-09-16

For a clear medium to carry the dust, instead of clear paints etc. try a clear acrylic floor finish (Future is one brand name for example) Very fast drying and perfectly clear. Also good for finishing polished metal like brass to prevent tarnishing.

Insonicbloom (author)2012-09-16

there are some cool LED projects like candle flicker project HERE

luxstar (author)2012-09-14


I tried UV and it works well.  I need to do a side by side comparison.  This weekend I also want to try out some of the other colors of glow dust and get a photo of them all in a row. 

Ugifer (author)2012-09-14

This is great!

I wonder what would happen if you painted a UV LED?!

I suspect the glow from the powder would be brighter than the visible purple of the LED and it would charge really well so it should glow for ages afterward...

I'll have to give it a go.

Orngrimm (author)2012-09-14

Hahaha! Nice idea! Like it.
You also might cover the lower parts of the side of the LED...

FriendOfHumanity (author)2012-09-13


Nice idea.

If you live in the UK and it is around Halloween time then Tesco, sell every year for a British pound, Glow-in-the-dark nail varnish.

luxstar (author)2012-09-12


The dust works great by itself.  If you charge up something painted with the dust for about 15 minutes for a full charge, it glows for several hours and although the glow fades over time it starts out amazingly bright.  I guess the issue here is how much light can get to the back of a LED from the outside world?  I don’t know the answer to that. 

The glow dust itself works great.  I should attach a picture later that shows how bright an object glows that has been painted with this stuff and charged up with ½ watt of UV from a UV led.  In a pinch I think you could light up part of the page of a book an read with it.

If you are thinking of tying what you are asking you could paint all of the led except the lens on the und with a few thick coats and it should work fine.
Tomdf (author)2012-09-12

How well do they glow if you don't light up the led? Say you held em under a light bulb for a bit to charge the dust, would they still put off a good glow?

luxstar (author)2012-09-12

Hello Talonsblade,

The light that is reflected back from the inside of the lens on the front of the led ends up going out the back and is wasted light.  This actually makes use of it.  If you paint the sides of the standard 15 degree to 30 degree LED you probably would not lose much useable light since almost all of it is in the 15 – 30 degree cone.  I will have to try that tonight.  On piranha LEDS I did paint the sides but none of the ½ dome lens.  It worked pretty good.  The problem is making the coverage “even”.  Some spots glow more than others.  Painting the back side looks good even if some spots are brighter than others.  Just try to keep the nail polish off the leads.  Nail polish is a good insulator.

PedroDaGr8 (author)luxstar2012-09-12

I did paint the fronts in my QLED LED instructable (how to make your own custom color LEDs). Evenness is by far the hardest part. I didnt think of trying nail polish and now I'm curious if it would work for the custom color LED.

talonsblade (author)2012-09-12

i was wondering why you dont put the paint on the oustide? why underneath of it?

luxstar (author)2012-09-12


You’ve got me thinking that I need to try painting the front. The light would be diffused but. I might end up with a bi-color led for the cost of single color.

Sparkytastic (author)2012-09-12

Pretty neat. It would work great for an LED firefly or fade effect.

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