Sunday, February 17, 2013

Make glow in the dark paint (using glow sticks)

Have you ever had one of those "I wonder if..." moments?  A couple of nights ago hubby and I opened a canister of glow sticks to play around with them and take photos.

In the midst of playing, I found myself wondering if I could use their lovely glowing innards to make glow in the dark paint.  Now, the label on the glow stick canister clearly said that we shouldn't "puncture" the tubes... but it also said that the glow sticks were nontoxic.  So... I figured that as long as we didn't let the paint touch our skin, eyes, or clothes we should be ok.   Here's what my glow in the dark painting looked like:

Update 5/29/13-  Several concerned readers brought up valuable points regarding possibly dangerous chemicals and glass inside the tubes.  Be sure to read the comments below and think twice before attempting this activity...

- Scissors
- Disposable container (to hold paint)
- Paint brush
- Paper towel
- Newspaper
- Gloves
- Corn starch

1.  Cover your area with newspaper and wear gloves  (I didn't do this... but looking back I think it would be a good idea since you are working with chemicals.)

2.  Crack your glow stick so that the entire stick glows

3.  Open up your glow stick.  To do this, I held the glow stick vertically over my disposable container.  I cut the top bottom end of the glow stick.  The liquid inside didn't flow out very quickly.  So, I turned the glow stick upside down (so that the cut end was now on top and the uncut end was on the bottom).  Then, I cut the bottom uncut end.  (We cut it this way so that the tip wouldn't go flying in the air.  Plus, the liquid flowed much quicker if both ends were cut.)

3.  I added a bit of corn starch to the glowing liquid to thicken up the paint.

4. Use your paint to paint pieces of paper towel placed over newspapers.

Now, I'm sure you already could guess this... but sadly the images don't glow forever.  So enjoy their beauty while they last.

Oh yeah- here are some other photos of our glow stick play:



  1. That's totally awesome!

    You're amazing.

    1. as always, thanks for the encouragement mb. :)

  2. I've always wondered how that would work. Your pictures turned out great :) I love it!

  3. This is actually not a very wise idea. The chemicals are not meant to be removed from the container. It is also unnecessary since you can just buy ready-to-use glow in the dark paint. Those paints are safe and recharge in the light. List with glow in the dark paint.

    1. Hey Dave- Thanks for the concern. Everyone should definitely take a moment to read the warning. Like I mentioned in the post, the labels do say that you shouldn't puncture the tubes. I was ok taking the risk, but you're right, we should always be careful when working with chemicals. And yup, you can purchase glow in the dark paint in stores too. I was just trying something on a lark.

    2. Actually there is also glass in the tubes. That is what is "cracked" when you activate the glow stick. The glass tube breaks, mixing with the chemicals in the plastic tube, enabling them to glow. When you open the plastic tube, your biggest concern should be the glass that is now busted up in the liquid and not the liquid its self. The glass gets in your skin like fiberglass and is nearly impossible to remove and hurts very bad. I would highly recommend not doing this. I am speaking from first hand experience with my self and my 4 yr old daughter.

    3. Hi Marci- Another good reason to be careful and think twice before trying this activity out. Again, I was just pleased that it worked.

  4. Hey there,

    This looks like a great idea to try. How long did the glow effect last for out of interest?

    1. Hi! Honestly, I don't remember.... but I do remember that after I finished painting the brightness did noticeably fade... Sorry I couldn't help out!

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