Fun Things to Do With Glow Sticks
How Do Glow Sticks Work?
Have you ever wondered what causes a glow stick to glow? The glow is actually created when two different chemicals inside the stick mix together. One chemical is inside a very thin glass tube and the other is on the outside of the glass tube. When you bend the glow stick to activate the color, you are actually breaking the glass tube inside and allowing the two chemicals to mix.
Much to my amazement, the chemicals are non-toxic. If you accidentally bend the stick too far and the chemical inside starts leaking out, just be sure to thoroughly wash it off of your skin because it may cause a minor skin rash.
Because they are safe to use and because of my recent fascination with them, I've gathered together some really awesome ideas on how to use them.
Take a Glowing Bath
- Crack a few sticks, throw them into the tub, and start running the water.
- Shut the door, turn the light out, and jump in.
- The glow sticks will be brighter than you think! You will be bathing in a spectacular glowing tub of water, and this gives the bathroom a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere.
- You can even mix colors together to form a different color. For example, red and blue will make it glow purple.
- This activity is very popular with kids, but I have to admit, I would love to give this one a try myself. Oh, don't forget the bubbles!
To get the best possible glow, shake the stick after you bend it so that the two chemicals mix thoroughly. This glow should last you a good 8 hours.
Glow Stick Photography
- You can use a regular digital camera and some glow sticks to take some very cool pictures!
- Have a friend or one of the kids spell their name in the dark with a glow stick.
- As they start, take a picture at the lowest shutter speed.
- It may take a little practice, but you will be amazed when you see the glowing name in the photo.
- Do the same thing with shapes or whatever you want—just make sure the camera is on the lowest shutter speed.
- You can still capture some cool pics with the light on, but it's so much better in the dark!
Glow Stick Games
- Glowing Frisbee: After activating a glow stick necklace (without a connector), tape it directly in the middle of the Frisbee. Now you have a neon disc to throw around after dark!
- Hide-and-Seek: The number of glow sticks you need for this activity will depend on the number of people playing. Someone has to hide all of the glow sticks in various places in the house. Then, turn the light out and have everyone look for them. This is a super fun activity for the kids!
- Glow Stick Soccer: Tape some glow sticks firmly around a plastic ball. Have the members of each team wear the glow stick of their color. For example, one team will wear red and the other blue. Go out to a dark field at night and play some soccer with the glowing ball.
- Glow Stick Tag: Have each player tie a glow stick loosely to their belt loop or some part of their clothing. The person doing the tagging has to jerk the glow stick off of the other players. The last person with the glow stick on is the winner.
- Glow Stick Scavenger Hunt: Similar to hide-and-seek, this is also a fun outdoor activity. You play by hiding several glow sticks. Have everybody look for them. The person who finds the most wins a prize. You can also add a star to one of the glow sticks, and whoever finds the one with the lucky star wins a prize.
Glow Stick Party Décor
Are you planning on having a party at night or a kids' slumber party? At your next event you can:
- Put glow sticks inside balloons and scatter them around the room for décor. Hang them from the ceiling or let people play with glowing balloons!
- Tape some glow sticks to the ceiling fan for a neat light show!
- Make a pretty glowing lantern by using a clear jar. Start by cutting the end of the glow stick off and pouring the contents into the jar. Then, shake the jar. If you add water, the glow will last longer. Place these jars all around the room.
- Spray any size jar with frosted spray paint, and then add some glow sticks. This also makes a beautiful glowing lantern or an awesome nightlight.
- Make glowing drinking cups. Take two plastic cups (one clear and one opaque). Putting a glow stick bracelet on the bottom of the opaque cup, and then take the clear cup and stack it on top. Add ice and your clear beverage of choice (like Sprite). For a better photo-illustrated tutorial of this project, you can check out Kim Danger's blog Mommy Savers.
- Wear glow sticks on your clothes, turn on some music, turn the lights off, and dance!
The liquid continues to glow even when it is outside of the tube. I've heard of people busting glow sticks open to splash the liquid onto a T-shirt for a splotchy glowing effect, but the liquid has very small shards of glass in it, so this is not a good idea.
Glow Stick Outdoor/Pool Party Ideas:
- Take small baby food jars that have been sprayed with frosted paint and drop a glow stick in each jar. Place them around your yard at night to create "fairy lights" in the grass.
- Take white lunch bags and turn them upside down. Gather up each bag a few inches from the top (which is actually the bottom) and put a rubber band around each one. Fan out the top of the bag and shape it like a mushroom top. Add a glow stick below the rubber band and add another rubber band to keep the sacks gathered close to the glow sticks. Now stick them in the ground and take a look at all of the glowing mushrooms!
- Make frosted lanterns. Paint jars with frosted spray paint and add glow sticks. Then scatter them around outside or use them as centerpieces on your tables.
- For a pool party, you could place some glow sticks inside of balloons and float them on the surface of the pool to create a glowing atmosphere on the water.
- You can weigh down glow sticks with something heavy (like a washer) and drop them around the bottom of the pool. You can also let them float on the surface of the water.
- Are you doing a holiday party? Use red, white, and blue glow sticks for the 4th of July; orange, green, and purple for Halloween; and green for St. Patrick's Day. Use white-colored ones for weddings or pink for a girl's party.
- Make beautiful glowing centerpieces with water beads and a glow stick(s). The step-by-step instructions for glowing wedding centerpieces can be found on the Bicaostal Bride blog. I bet you could use marbles for this too.
Glow Stick Tips and Tricks
- When taking a large group of children to the movies, give each kid a glow stick necklace or bracelet. That way, you can easily stick together as a group in the dark movie theater.
- When skating or riding a bike in the dark, tape some glow sticks around the top of the skates or the bicycle to make yourself visible.
- Keep some in your car for traveling, just in case the car breaks down at night. They are a great light source and will definitely come in handy.
- Keep some handy at home during storm season in case the electricity goes out.
- Storing glow sticks in the freezer makes them last longer.
- To make them glow brighter, put them in the microwave for no longer than 10 seconds. Be sure it's only 10 seconds because they will explode if you leave them longer. If you are scared of putting them in the microwave, run them under hot water. It's important to mention that although adding heat will make them brighter, it slightly shortens their life.