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Chemical Reactions in Glow Sticks

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Renina Clayton

on 15 October 2012

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Transcript of Chemical Reactions in Glow Sticks

Chemical Reactions in Glow Sticks Glow sticks are plastic cylinders that contain two liquids that temporarily create light when they are mixed together. Glow sticks are available in many colors and are often used for decoration or entertainment, such as at parties, concerts and other nighttime events. They also have some practical uses for camping, military or police operations, underwater activities or certain emergency situations. Thin glow sticks that are made of a more flexible plastic can take the form of necklaces, bracelets or other shapes. What is a Glow Stick? A glow stick contains hydrogen peroxide in a small glass or breakable plastic that floats within the mixture inside the stick. This is why the glow stick must be bent to make it start glowing. When the stick bends, the inner glass tube breaks, releasing the hydrogen peroxide , thus beginning the chemical reaction, and the distinctive glow appears. How do Glow Sticks work? By bending the glow stick, we actually break the smaller tube on the inside. You usually will hear a tiny crack when this happens.The chemical inside the smaller tube leaks out and mixes with the other chemical on the outside.
A new chemical is formed, and it’s an unstable one, meaning that it can’t keep itself together very well. As the new chemical breaks down, it gives off energy that excites the atoms of the dye. When this happens, the glow stick lights up! What chemical reactions occur in glow sticks? No matter what form they take, glow sticks depend on a chemical process known as chemiluminescence to produce their light. In chemiluminescence, a chemical reaction causes a release of energy. Electrons in the chemicals become excited and rise to a higher energy level. When the electrons drop back to their normal levels, they produce energy in the form of light. Chemiluminescence
C14H10O4+ H2O2 + dye ---> C6H2Cl3OH + 2CO2 + dye

cyalume + hydrogen peroxide + dye ---> trichlorophenol + cardon dioxide + dye

These are some fluorescent dyes that may be added to light sticks to release colored light:

Blue 9,10-diphenylanthracene

Green 9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene

Yellow 1-chloro-9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene

Orange 5,12-bis(phenylethynyl)-naphthacene
Rhodamine 6G

Red Rhodamine B In addition to the color, the duration of the glow — usually several hours — also depends on the exact composition and quality of the chemicals inside. Some people say that a glow stick can be preserved by sticking it in a freezer. Indeed, cooling a glow stick will slow down the chemical reaction that is taking place inside it. The glow won't be as bright, but it will continue for a longer period of time.
Conversely, heating a glow stick, such as by placing it in a microwave, will speed up the chemical reaction. This will produce a brighter light. The glow won't last nearly as long, however, because the reaction will use up all of the available hydrogen peroxide more quickly. Microwaving glow sticks might not be recommended by some manufacturers, and caution should always be used when it is being done. Duration The chemicals used to create this reaction in glow sticks usually are hydrogen peroxide and a mixture of phenyl oxalate ester and the fluorescent dye, or fluorophore, that gives the glow stick its color. Common colors of glow sticks include yellow, green, pink, blue and orange. They also are available in red, white, yellow-green and other shades and colors. Colours Formula for the glow stick: A chemist by the name of Edwin A. Chandross invented chemical luminescence in 1960. Chandross was fascinated the firefly phenomena. He did allot of research to mimic fireflies and how to produce a similar light source. He came up with the compound, hydrogen peroxide which is a highly reactive chemical. Hydrogen peroxide has the ability to release a vast amount of energy in a short period of time and also produce light energy without heat. When light and heat are combined together, they produce fire; a form which is capable of burning virtually anything.Edwin's goal was to avoid heat reaction and instead be similar to what a fireflies would give off. Hydrogen Peroxide coupled with oxalyl chloride produces oxidation which when coupled with the dye, and gives off visible light. History of Glow Sticks Glow sticks are safe as long as precautions are followed. It's is more dangerous for a child to choke on a toy than get splashed with the chemicals in glow sticks. According to Banner, exposures typically occur when the items are bitten into and then some of the liquid is either swallowed or splashed into the eye. If the liquid is swallowed, it is recommended to rinse the mouth thoroughly with water, then drink a little milk.
If it gets into the eye, a burning sensation and tearing will occur. The eye should be rinsed with running water for 15-20 minutes while blinking. But, on a whole glow sticks are generally safe. Pets are also affected by the glowing chemicals, causing an upset stomach. Physical Contact of Glow Sticks Environmental Impact of Glow Sticks
One of the major long-term effects of glow sticks is the introduction of large amounts of disposable plastic items to the environment. According to Aaron Freeman, of Environmental Defence, the problem with glow sticks stems from the fact that they are made from "plastic, which is derived from petro-chemicals and is energy-intensive to make". Furthermore, the contents of glow sticks can be harmful to the environment, especially when released in large quantities.
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