Glow sticks are used at many places for fun and celebrations. They can be seen at raves, birthday parties, camping, wedding receptions, carnivals, night parties, movie theaters and music concerts. Many colors and shapes of glow sticks are available. But everyone of us want to know as to how they work.
A glow stick gives light when two solutions are allowed to mix. Generally phenyl oxalate ester and dye solution are kept in separate chambers in the stick. A smaller glass vial with hydrogen peroxide is placed in the middle of the stick. When the stick is bent, the glass vial inside breaks and the two solutions get mixed. Once the glass is broken a small chemical reaction takes place between the two solutions. As a result the molecule in the stick get energized. The energy is released as visible light. This whole process where the energy from chemicals is released as light is termed as chemiluminescence. The chemicals used in a glow stick are non-toxic, non-flammable and hence not harmful.
When proper and enough compounds are used, the glow stick can work for several hours. However, more commercial glow sticks available are likely to be used for 30 minutes. When the stick is heated, a brighter light is seen but gets dim very quickly. Some people find that freezing a glow stick can make the light to last for several days. However, it eventually gets faded.
A whole information about the working of a glow light can be known from a person having a science background and training in chemical compounds. When the compounds are mixed incorrectly, inadvertent results may arise.