Introduction: Make a 100ft Glow Stick

How to make a 100 ft glow stick. Just in time for Halloween. Brighter than Electroluminescent wire and self-powered. This can be used to decorate, glow stuff up, or create all kinds of awesome effects.

Warning: TCPO is carcinogenic and you should wear gloves and masks while working with it.

The procedure is simple, mix together:

500mg of 9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene
17g of TCPO (Also known as bis(2,4,6-trichlorophenyl)oxalate)
500mL of diethyl phthalate solvent

Heat it up until it dissolves. Then top it up to about 2.1 liters and add 120mL of hydrogen peroxide and 10g of sodium acetate. Shake thoroughly and draw into a 100 ft glow stick with an inner diameter of 3/8". Suction by a vacuum pump is recommended.

To prevent spilling the ends should be capped with brass or plastic compression fittings. Leave 5+ feet of space in the tube to allow for expansion of the chemicals depending on temperature.

Glow stick will last for about 6 hours. Use more TCPO if a longer glow is needed.

Congrats, now you have a 100 foot glow stick.


I couldn't submit this to the Halloween contest. But i hope all of you still enjoy it anyway :)


IanP4 (author)2015-09-24

1000 feet!?!?!?!?!

1,000,000,000 FEET!!!!!!

stevenator2000 (author)2013-10-01

Could you use a bigger tube?

ddonovan3 (author)2013-06-29

Is this worth the time and effort?

foolicooli (author)2013-06-16

Is there a way to make it last longer?

Benson1 (author)2009-10-27

What would you add to make it a different color if possible? And if you didn't add the bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene would it be colorless or just not work?

NurdRage (author)Benson12009-10-28

Yeah, all you need to do is change the dye to something else and it will glow a different color. But it has to be a fluorescent dye because the TCPO transfers its energy to other molecules and behaves like UV light (although not *actually* UV) so it only makes flourescent dyes glow.  Because of this, if you omit the dye it will have nothing to transfer to and the energy is lost as heat.

so if you don't add the 9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene it will simply be dark and do NOTHING visible.

Callum Snowden (author)NurdRage2011-11-06

If you say that you omit the 9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene and it generates heat, make a longer, say 1000ft and then coil it up and stick it in a room :)

Benson1 (author)NurdRage2009-10-28

Alright, thanks for the help!

Ultra-Indigo (author)2010-11-07

Night volleyball/soccer with glowing ball in black ninja uniforms

wd4dui (author)2010-11-05

Make enough to; 1) Wrap the Empire State Building, 2) The Golden (or your desired color) Gate Bridge, 3) outline the Grand Canyon, 4) tie a mile or two to a passenger type hot air balloon, 5) outline the US boarder all the way around(Now thats allot of glow stick), 6) install on the edges of Jumbo Jet for really cool night flights, 7) attach to edges of a wind-mill or....
I know, I know!!! Cut them up in small sections, 4 to 8 inches with a breakable vial of the stuff that activates....wait. What? They already have that? Well, never mind.

Wish I had paid more attention to chemistry in high-school.

Great N-Structable!

mortgrimm (author)2010-11-04

I have got a 18.5 litre bottle to put all this in. how much of each chemical will i need?

martzsam (author)2010-11-01

Squirt gun.

haptotrope (author)2010-08-09

I think the neatest part is the filling of the tube. And I think that if you wove/tied/linked into a web/macrame structure and used the vacuum to fill it -- and watch the pattern trace through... and then made it dump into a recycled fountain of glow spray.

sequret (author)2010-07-30

how do "real" glowsticks keep from glowing unti you crack them?

Arano (author)sequret2010-08-03

a glowstick is a plastic tube with a liquid in it and a glass vial in it with a second liquid... cracking the stick cracks the glass. the liquids react with each other and emit light

wertyleigh (author)2010-06-12

Hmnm... A Steam/cyber punk Hoop Skirt/dress?

SewLolita (author)wertyleigh2010-07-25

it might make more sense to use EL wire, since glow sticks run out after a bit...

NurdRage (author)SewLolita2010-07-25

That depends on your application. For permanent installations use of EL wire of course dominates. But for temporary and mobile applications a glow stick is much brighter and overall lighter since you don't need a power supply and batteries for a portable setup. For in between applications you of course need to decide which features are required. There's a good amount of EL information out there. Am i not allowed to show to other end of the spectrum with glow sticks?

SewLolita (author)NurdRage2010-07-26

I know- but for the other poster's purpose ( since cyber and steampunk are both at the 'dear god, that's time expensive and time consuming' end of fashion/costuming, so such outfits are generally kept for many wearings ) EL's lighter weight, stitchability (i know, not a word :P) and re-usability might be better suited.

NurdRage (author)SewLolita2010-07-26

yeah very true, for a dress, it's WAAAAYYY better to go with EL wire.

d1ndian (author)wertyleigh2010-07-19

nice once, How about making a line figure using it.

mahirh (author)2010-07-25

i would really like one made with rubrene ,more tcpo and 30 grams of catalyst ..... BOOM ..... KABOOM

cylonics (author)2009-10-26

When your glowing is done, how do you dispose of the carcinogenic chemicals?

NurdRage (author)cylonics2009-10-27

For this reaction we recycle the solvent by fractional distillation.

The leftover 30g of residues we then combine with our other halogenated wastes and once we accumulate about 100kg of toxic wastes we call a chemical waste management company to dispose of it for us.

Costs a lot of money for disposal of such viciously toxic compounds but it's the responsible thing to do.

FlutterVertigo (author)NurdRage2010-05-06

<< NurdRage:  Costs a lot of money for disposal of such viciously toxic compounds but it's the responsible thing to do>>

Here in Indy (the days are counting down to GenCon!), there are two services which are provided  every so often:

1) pulverizing paper (software can overcome that) for $5 per bag/box) the lines look like a whore house on dollar days, even with multiple queues.  The company which does it basically gets (nearly) free advertising.  The lines are incredibly long even if have 2/4 queues.  It's like "a whore house on dollar days."

2) another service, this one is free, is like a drive-thru for HazMat , focusing upon the disposal of old Rx, aerosols, ...   there are are always a number of Hg deposits   

The TV media tells people if something looks odd, dusty/dirty containers, avoid it and schedule ASAP time with HazMat.


JohnJY (author)2010-03-16

 Signal helicopters at night? Use it like the Graffiti Research Lab would, string it really high on buildings, or across then, in a large city.  

djlewis725 (author)2010-01-27

OMG! That mixer would make ultimate chocolate milk! :D

noname420 (author)2010-01-13

I have no idea what you could do, i like the idea of wrapping it around a car, um, OH i got it get a 1000 feet, spell out " INSTRUCTABLES" than go for a over head view so it looks cool, or put it on the outline of a house

zieak (author)2010-01-12

Very neat!

dioblo2345 (author)2009-12-09

i think you should put it on a car and drive around .the reason im writing like this is becuase im ageeing with amyluthein

knektek (author)2009-11-29

how much would this cost?

AmyLuthien (author)2009-11-13

OoOooO!!  Wrap it around a car and drive around!  That would be awesome!

e.tingle (author)2009-10-28

how many comments do you need because i would love to see a 1000 foot long glow stick

NurdRage (author)e.tingle2009-10-29

Not really comments i'm after, but views.

and suffice it to say... alot more than what i'm getting now. ;)

e.tingle (author)NurdRage2009-10-29

 well i will do my best to get it viewed 

Squintz82 (author)2009-10-28

This is a great video for this time of year. Glow sticks are so cheap these days but it would be cool to see them recycled the day after. So how can we take commercial glow sticks, chop them up, and reactivate their glow?

As kids we use to break open glow sticks and cover our walls with the liquid. How toxic is this stuff?

NurdRage (author)Squintz822009-10-29

The packages claim that they're non-toxic,

but i have not seen a formulation which fits my standard of this. The ones i've seen are less toxic than say... drinking gasoline, but are certainly not edible or even safe to put on your hands.

Unforunately the manufacturers don't want to reveal their secret compositions so we can't test if their new formulations are really non-toxic.

xboxteen01 (author)2009-10-26

how much does it cost to make one of these?
awesome project btw.

NurdRage (author)xboxteen012009-10-27


The chemicals are pretty expensive when you buy them on a small scale like this.

The glow stick companies can make it cheaper because they go on mult-tonne scales.

marc92 (author)2009-10-26

Try taking some long exposure photos with this.

They would be great!

About This Instructable




Bio: NurdRage is a dedicate group of science nerds trying to further amateur science with direct how-to instructions in video format. We saw what was already ... More »
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