Glow sticks depend on a chemical process known as chemiluminesence to produce their light. In chemiluminesence, 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 normal levels, they produce energy in the form of light.
The chemicals used to create this reaction in glow sticks are usually hydrogen peroxide and a mixture of phenyl oxalate ester and the fluorescent dye that gives the glow stick its color. The hydrogen peroxide is contained in a small glass tube that floats within the mixture inside the plastic glow stick. This is why you must bend a glow stick to make it start glowing. When the stick bends, the glass vial breaks, the hydrogen peroxide is released, the chemical reaction begins and you get the distinctive glow.
A glow stick is a single-use translucent plastic tube containing isolated substances which when combined make light through a chemical reaction-induced chemoluminescence which does not require an electrical power source.
Glow sticks contain hydrogen peroxide, and phenol is produced as a by-product. It is advisable, therefore, to keep the mixture away from skin and to prevent accidental ingestion if the glow stick case splits or breaks. If spilled on skin the chemicals could cause slight skin irritation, swelling, or, in extreme circumstances, vomiting and nausea. Many ravers will cut or break open a glow stick and apply the glowing solution directly to bare skin in order to make their bodies glow.
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