Making glow sticks at home

Even if you have no interest in making these yourself, you might enjoy this educational instructable about making your own glow sticks. Comprised of a very short list of chemicals, all available online, the process is fairly simple. If you’re feeling like you want to take on a little more complicated chemistry project, you can also make the TCPO component your self, possibly saving some money as the individual components are cheaper than the final product. As they note, it is just cheaper and easier to buy a glow stick, unless you are making mass quantities.


  1. Alexander Rossie says:

    I wish he’d elaborate on generates “energy”. Does he mean light outside of the visible spectrum? H+ , e-?

  2. biozz says:

    give your self TCPO poisoning in 3 easy steps! :D
    but seriously TCPO, diethyl phthalate and Rhodamine B must be handled with care

  3. biozz says:

    @Alexander Rossie
    light is energy

  4. SpeedBall says:

    Superb explanation! Very lucid (lucient?), hardly an “uhhmm”! Thanks!

  5. rain says:

    why hide your real geek voice!!!

  6. Word says:

    that voice.. is disturbing as hell, can’t imagine what the guy looks like.

  7. biozz says:

    he sounds like brian posehn XD

  8. Scott says:

    I agree – it sounds like he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. “Expert scientific opinion” my rear end! Alexander Rossie is right on in complaining that he skips over the definition of “chemical energy”.

    I’m just pulling this one out of my rear, but I assume he’s talking about a chemical reaction releasing high-energy (UV) photons which collide with and knock-off lower-energy, inner-shell electrons of the various fluorescent dies added. When higher-energy electrons from outer shells drop inward to fill the low-energy vacancy, the difference in energy is released in the form of photons, whose wavelength is proportional to the difference in energy levels.

    On second thought, I should probably read

  9. rain says:

    no he sound like this

    so make it more man like… he morph his sound…


  10. rain says:

    he is a smart guy keep them coming…

    thank your for posting…

  11. Farbon says:

    Oh come on scott. You expect him to cram a university level explanation into a video that he clearly meant for a more general audience? That’s like demanding kindergartens teach calculus instead of just teaching 1+1=2.

    People like you should get that stick outta your rear. If you’re so pissed off message the dude and maybe he’ll help you.

  12. zing says:


    The purpose of all the chemicals is to generate c2o4, not UV.

    c2o4 gives energy to the dye through electron transfer when it breaks down to carbon dioxide. The electron then kicks off a photon.

    It is sort of like photosynthesis, in reverse.

  13. walt says:

    why did he pitch shift his voice like that?

  14. gyro_john says:


    Prolly has professional associates who would recognize his voice and take exception to his activities.

  15. greycode says:

    He showed you what you needed, why you needed them, how to mix them, and he used safety equipment. He even gave you the basic science about what he was doing. Pretty much exactly how he would have presented this to a basic audience. Would a super geek be happy? No, but then the super geek would want to do it their selves.

    If you want a bone to chew on, he should have said something more on how to safely handle the chemicals in question, but if you have the willingness to do this, you would probably read handling directions on the packages. So I don’t see even that being that big a deal. A Mr. Science type video.

    What bugs me is the voice dub. Unless this guy is Jason Bourne I don’t see why the need to change the voice.

  16. greycode says:

    @wait You caught me in between posts, but who is going to nut up over that video? I don’t see this killing the glow stick market. Even tells us at the start that it is more expensive to do this unless you do it in bulk. The guys doing this in bulk are not going to be afraid of this video.

  17. DJ says:

    very environmentally responsible…………I hope all the kiddies try this one. cause we know that everyone disposes of toxic waste properly……….

  18. The Moogle says:

    the pitch shifted voice really really annoys the hell out of me!

  19. John says:

    Very nice. Thanks.

  20. Lank says:

    This kills me. While it’s not a big deal (as he shakes it and the chemicals aren’t violently reactive), he SHOULD Have added the liquid to the powders…not the other way around.

    But alas, even PH.Ds make dumb mistakes in technique too.

  21. Farbon says:

    That’s the stupidest thing i’ve heard Lank. It’s clear you’re not Ph.D. i’ve added water to pail of sodium hydroxide once, it damn near killed me when it blew up in my face. You’re supposed to add things to the liquids in small amounts and if it heats up to much you stop and let the liquid cool down. If you add liquids to solids then the solid keeps dissolving as the liquid heats up, eventually the liquid heats up so much it boils… sometimes violently.

    You’re the dumbass buddy.

  22. Xeracy says:

    anyone know what would happen if these different colors were mixed? would it work like additive color mixing like light (primary colors mixed to make white) or would they mix like pigment (primary colors mixed to make brown/black)?

  23. Alexander Rossie says:

    @biozz, which is why I asked for elaboration on the reaction doesn’t produce light it produces energy.

  24. medix says:

    @Alexander Rossie: They’re the same thing:

    E=hv (Planck’s constant * frequency)

  25. Mad Scientist says:

    This does not have to be run i DiethylPhtalate, normal acetone (propanone) is just as good, and even cheaper.

    Plus you wont get funny children from acetone, you will only burn you balls ;)

    (DiethylPhtalate is a hormone mimicing chemical)

  26. error404 says:

    Thanks for the instructables warning in the body text. It is appreciated.

  27. Void says:

    This was a fun video :D

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