CFLs spiral because they’re essentially fluorescent bulbs, which means they light up by heating a certain gas. The reason why fluorescent bulbs are in a tube shape is so that the charges from either end will excite the atoms and shoot them from one end to the other, resulting in light. CFLs take the tube shape and simply bend it, so that there are still two electrodes to heat up the gas. They don’t necessarily have to spiral, though, as that shape was simply used to help conserve space. There are a variety of other CFL shapes, such as the tubed CFL, but the point is that they still work like fluorescent bulbs.
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