Make a Glow Stick Reaction Using Real Chemicals

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Introduction: Make a Glow Stick Reaction Using Real Chemicals

About: 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 online and we thought "we could do better".....

Here I show you how to make a glow stick reaction with real chemicals.

Yes this is a repost, i made a huge mistake on the last one

The glowstick reaction is made using a diphenyl oxalate derivative known as bis(2,4,6-trichlorophenyl)oxalate or TCPO. Additional ingredients include ethyl acetate as a solvent, sodium acetate as a base, 9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene to give it the green color, and hydrogen peroxide to react with the TCPO and create light.

The exact proportions are:

15mL of ethyl acetate
3mg of 9,10-bis(phenyethynyl) anthracene
1g of sodium acetate
800mg of TCPO
3mL of hydrogen peroxide added last to initiate the reaction.

The exact same process is used in glow sticks. This is NOT mountain dew. Mountain dew cannot glow like this, it does not have the crucial TCPO chemical or any chemical like that.

The reaction will glow in the dark for several minutes if you use ethyl acetate as the solvent. It will glow for several hours if you use diethyl phthalate as the solvent.

WARNING: Trolls , idiots or morons might post comments claiming you can make glow sticks by other compositions. Ignore them all. NONE of them (not even luminol) last as long as the peroxylate category of chemiluminescent reactions. And some 'alternative' (read FAKE) compositions are dangerous, toxic or explosive, do no attempt *ANY* of them. (except luminol)

Sorry i have to spam like that. But some people are so desperate to make their own glow stick that they'll try anything and trolls prey upon this. A couple of years ago a kid I knew heard that you could make a glow stick from alcohol and pool chlorine.... He's permanently blind now. Sure he's stupid but no one told him that mixing those two was dangerous and that he was lied to.

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    60 Comments

    Don't know how many Q&A I have read on this board today. My my own perspective is just buy the cheap glo-sticks at Walmart. I know a lot of young, or new to this subject are jacked up, and are almost ready to start the manufacturing process. it is advisable you entertain a few questions. Do you really want to handle chemicals that WILL kill you, in your home, or will pollute the air in close proximity to your family? If you think yes, well then read on Bubba.

    When the glow eventually fades is it gone for good or can the solution be charged by exposing it to light?

    2 replies

    I don't see any of the other reply's for these questions. Are they hidden for a reason, "Here I am being nice", or do you have to join DIY to see them?

    its just like a regular glow stick. so when its dead its gone

    question: what is the level of toxicity here? should be in open or closed space? is a foom hood better idea to make it?

    Dear nurdrage,
    can we make a glow stick which emmitts infrared light using different dyes???
    such as using
    dihexyloxyviolanthrone or 16,17-butyloxyviolanthrone or 1-N,N-dibutylaminoanthracene or 6-methylacridinium iodide.

    Sorry, but I keep getting questions! Are you using glass or plastic (or other) in the video?

    About how much would it cost me to make this? Are there any applications to the real world other than glow sticks?

    do commercial glowsticks also use ethyl acetate as solvent? i cant find it anywere on the internet.

    How long will this reaction work? Only once or even if you shake it, it start again?

    Is this toxic? Is it safe to say, splatter your clothes for an hourly night glow? Safe to touch? Thanks.

    1 reply

    Sorry for being four years late, but TCPO is a carcinogen (it can cause cancer) and generally touching it should be avoided.

    How to calculate theoretically the glow time? What is the reaction rate constant TCPO and H2O2? Help please. My email vadymka1999@gmail.com

    Can CPPO be plugged straight into this formula instead of TCPO and have the same proportions? If not, how would the proportions change? By the way, I'm conducting an experiment varying the organic solvent (ethyl acetate, methyl acetate, butyl acetate, isopropyl acetate), and I am using the same proportion as shown in your video, "Make Glow Sticks - The Science". Help as soon as possible is appreciated.

    f i add more hydrogen peroxide to the rest of the chemicals needed to make the glowsticks glow what would happen

    Hi! Tell me please, can I use anthracene to get the luminescence?

    What is the point of using a voice changer for this?

    Anyway, really nice reaction!

    omg this is amazing but its not what i`m looking for is there anyway the solution can be thickened to make it into a paint like liquid for clubbing or gigs

    1 reply

    We're working on an instructable to do that.

    It takes a different approach, we make a glow-in-the-dark powder and then mix it with a gel to make it paintable.

    Its taking awhile to get done, eventually we will be ready to post it.

    May 31, 2009. 7:48 PMterminator_chemsays: and dude i found another reaction to make a glow liquid can you verify if this procedure is safe....im copy pastin the requirements and procedure...i think if u can tell u will help a lot of ppl;-If you don't have luminol than you are in a big problem if you want to make glowsticks. I made a glowing liquid half year ago it was glowing with a red color, the recipe is here: 1. Mix a solution of: a. 40mL distilled water b. 0.8g hydroxide c. 25g K2CO3 d. 1g pyrogallol e. 10 mL standard 37% methanal ("formaldehyde") all in a beaker too large for overflow 2. Darken the room 3. Add 30 mL standard 30% hydrogen peroxide Notes : The red glow is due to the oxidation of pyrogallol and methanal in alkaline peroxide. Either on its own should work but it works better if you use both. Pyrogallol is highly toxic. And if you add the H2O2 too fast it will boil and a lot of formaldehyde will get in to the air what is not so good. This thing is glowing until you add H2O2 to the mix. If you add it fast than it will have a strong light, if you add slow, than it will have a weak light. //I know that tis is not an easy recipe, but is is cheaper and easier than the other ones. You won't make glowstick easier. sum1 posted this recepie....can u tell every1 on instructables if it is safe or not....cause he isnt even using luminol....!!!!!