Those glowing Mountain Dew videos with peroxide and baking soda are all hoaxes. To truly make a glowstick without breaking an already-made glowstick and shoving its contents into a tube (also known as cheating), you’ve gotta let your inner scientist out (along with a few dollars). If you’re still curious, read on.This is fun for anyone and everyone.
Method 1 of 2: Using Luminol
01.Put on protective glasses. In addition, wear gloves to protect your skin. It’s also a good idea to not wear your Sunday best. Throw on some old clothes or put a smock over clothes you want protected. Some of this stuff is dangerous — this experiment is not meant for children!
Listen up, kids: You’ll be working with a solution that’s near a 12 on the pH scale. That basically means don’t swallow it, don’t put it in your eyes, don’t bathe in it, and don’t really expose yourself to it directly at all. Got it? Moving on.
02.Combine 50 milliliters of hydrogen peroxide and a liter of distilled water in a mixing bowl. A ceramic bowl will work best, but plastic works too. Use funnels, measuring tubes, and basters to keep everything well-measured and well away from you.
Hydrogen peroxide is used to replace the luminol’s nitrogen atoms with oxygen. When that happens, all the substances create a rave and start partying and electrons fly everywhere creating protons and what results? The glow.
03.Mix .2 grams of luminol, 4 grams of sodium carbonate, .4 grams of copper sulfate, .5 grams of ammonium carbonate and 1 liter of distilled water in a second bowl. It is important not to touch the luminol. Use a funnel to make everything safe and easy. Unfortunately, these hazardous chemicals will not float freely in mid-air like this graphic suggests.
Yep, unless you’re a coroner or some sort of crazy spy/criminologist you probably don’t have this stuff lying around the house (hopefully not…). If you’re dead set on starting your own glowstick business (worse ideas exist), try websites like Alfa Aesar or Sigma Aldrich for supplies.
Mix everything well. Don’t use your hands — use a metal or plastic utensil of some sort
04.Clean the containers and dry them thoroughly. It’s important to use sanitary, clean tubes for your glowsticks. The last thing you want is other substances interacting with the reactions you’re depending on to make the substances glow.
05.Set the correct lid next to each container. This enables you to seal the containers quickly after filling. It’s not like the glow will get up and run away from you, but still.
06.Combine equal amounts of the first and second solution in the container and close the bottles. Shake them up once the lids are on tightly. Then turn off the lights!
If it’s not already glowing, something went wrong. Do over!
07.Watch as the chemical compound creates a colorful glow. Take your glowsticks to the party and charge your friends loads of money for them! But act quickly…the glow won’t last very long. Expectations crushed? Method two to the rescue!
The reaction that the luminol and hydrogen peroxide creates doesn’t last long at all — maybe a couple of minutes. For something that lasts hours, go to the next method (which is a lot easier to facilitate if you have access to a laboratory, but it’s still worth mentioning).
Method 2 of 2: Using TCPO
01.Get out your scientist materials. That’s the technical term. In addition to protective gear, get out your test tubes, funnels, and syringes. For the record, this method is really only for people experienced in working with chemicals. Some of this stuff is incredibly dangerous if used incorrectly.
Always wear protective gloves and scientist goggles. It’s also a good idea to protect your arms and any exposed skin. Accidents do and can happen.
You can use virtually any container, though glass obviously allows for more of a glow than plastic!
02.Add 3 mg of fluorescent dye to 10 mL Diethyl Phthalate. Nope, that’s not a typo, but it is sort of said like you have a lisp. Either way, you can’t use water, because the chemicals we’re using won’t work in it. And yes, that’s indicative of just how easy-to-obtain this method is going to be.
Make sure you’re using fluorescent dyes. You can use 9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene for green, Rubrene for yellow, 9,10-diphenylanthracene for blue, and rhodamine B for red. For the record, when in a solid state, they’re completely different colors.
03.Add 50 mg of TCPO to the dyed mixture. That’s bis (2,4,6-trichlorophenyl) oxalate. It’s quite expensive to buy, but you can make it fairly cheaply if, again, you’re experienced and competent around chemicals. Otherwise, making it is not advised.
The TCPO is used instead of luminol in this method — it’s the component that makes the mixture glow and it lasts for hours.
Don’t snort the TCPO. You’ll get cancer.
04.Add 100 mg of sodium acetate as your base. If you don’t have sodium acetate, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda (perhaps where the initial myth came from)) and sodium salicylic can effectively be used instead. Shake it up to mix it well. After you put the lid on and seal it tightly, of course.
Again, dig around the web to find these ingredients. Alfa Aesar and Sigma Aldrich are two great resources.
05.Finally, add 3 mL of 30% hydrogen peroxide to the mixture. It’s important to do this step last as it creates the chemical reaction. Put the lid back on, shake it up well, and turn off the lights. You should have a quite impressive stick/tube/container glowing ferociously in front of you.
Larger quantities of TCPO and sodium acetate will make the reaction go on for longer. If you so desire, mess around with the recipe to see what warrants the best results.
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