With no bulb or battery, glow sticks handle to produce a strong light. So, just how precisely do glow sticks work? Glow stick light is the result of a chemical response. Most glow sticks hold a hydrogen peroxide solution and a solution that contains phenyl oxalate ester and a fluorescent coloring. When the two compounds are combined, the hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the phenyl oxalate ester, ensuing in a chemical known as phenol and an volatile acid ester. The unstable substance decomposes, resulting in extra phenol and a cyclic peroxy compound. The cyclic peroxy compound then decomposes to carbon dioxide; this decomposition process produces energy to the dye, and the electrons in the dye atoms jump to a higher level, then fall back lower, delivering energy in the form of light.
The real light stick is simply a type of housing the two solutions. In the stick, the two options are maintained in individual chambers. The phenyl oxalate ester and coloring solution fills up most of the glow stick, while the peroxide solution is held in a smaller sized glass vial inside the middle of the stick. For this reason glow sticks should be curved to activate – twisting the plastic stick breaks the glass vial open, allowing the two options to mix.
The glow stick can stay lit for hours, if sufficient compounds are used. However, more industrial glow sticks are most likely to final up to 30 minutes. Also, heating the glow stick will cause it to glow better, but it will also dim more rapidly. Similarly, chilling the stick will slow down the process and cause a dimmer lighting to final much longer. Freezing a glow stick can result in the light to last for a number of days, although it will ultimately fade out.
Although some websites provide information on how to make a glow stick, this really is discouraged unless of course a person has a background in science and substantial training in chemical compounds. While relatively secure, combining the substances incorrectly can lead to inadvertent results, and the dye can harm clothing and other materials.