Tag Archives: glow in the dark

How to Make Glow in the Dark Blood

Make your own non-toxic glowing blood for a Halloween costume or for a party or theater production. (Timothy Allen)

Make your own non-toxic glowing blood for a Halloween costume or for a party or theater production. (Timothy Allen)

You can make glow in the dark blood for a Halloween costume or just because you want to decorate yourself with glowing blood. Here are several recipes for non-toxic glow in the dark blood.

Glowing Alien or Radioactive-Looking Blood

Mix equal parts white corn syrup and clear non-toxic school glue (the kind that washes off with water). Add liquid from a highlighter or some glow powder or paint from a craft store.
If you use liquid from a highlighter, you’ll get blood that will glow the color of the highlighter under black light. Not every highlighter glows, so test it before using it. If you use glow powder or paint from a craft store, your glow in the dark blood will glow when the lights are off, providing you “charged” the blood up by shining a bright light on it first. Glow powder typically glows yellowish green.

I had great luck with this glowing blood. It was very bright and washed off easily with warm water. It likely will stain clothes, so watch out for that.

Glowing Bright Blue Blood

Petroleum jelly, laundry detergent, and tonic water glow bright blue under a black light. The easiest way to make blue blood that glows under a black light is to drizzle liquid laundry detergent on yourself (which is not edible, so avoid getting this into your mouth). Tonic water with corn syrup will make a thin blood. You can tint the blood with food coloring, if you like. Petroleum jelly can be applied as a thick, non-dripping blood.
Glowing Red Blood

You can make red blood that glows red under a black light by either mixing pink highlighter liquid in with any of the fake blood recipes or by adding chlorophyll to a recipe. You may be able to purchase chlorophyll, which fluoresces red in ultraviolet light, or you can prepare it yourself by grinding spinach or Swiss chard with a small amount of alcohol (e.g., vodka) and pouring it through a coffee filter to get chlorophyll extract (use the part that stays on the filter, not the liquid).

How to Make LED Glowies and Throwies

Connect an LED to a battery to make an LED glowie. Anne Helmenstine

Connect an LED to a battery to make an LED glowie. Anne Helmenstine

Here are simple instructions for making your own LED glowies and LED throwies. LED glowies are glowing Light Emitting Diode or LED devices, while LED throwies are LED glowies that you can toss and stick onto any ferromagnetic surface. Both LED projects are easy and fun.

Materials for LED Glowies and LED Throwies

  • LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes – sold at Radioshack and other electronics stores)
  • 3-V batteries (sold at the same place… note the common 1.5 V batteries aren’t powerful enough to light an LED)
  • small magnets (for throwies)
  • tape (optional for glowies, necessary for throwies)

Make LED Glowies and LED Throwies

  1. Examine an LED. Notice how one prong is longer than the other. Now look at the battery. The smooth flat side is the positive (+) side, while the side with the ring is the negative (-) side. 
  2. Insert the battery into the LED with the long prong of the LED on the smooth positive (+) side of the battery. That’s it! You’ve made an LED glowie! You can use the LED glowie for any application where a little light would brighten things up. Seal the battery portion of the LED glowie with tape or wax if you think it might get wet. 
  3. Now, if you want to make an LED throwie, tape a small magnet onto the positive (+) side of the battery. Toss the LED throwie at your refrigerator or whatever.

See How to Make Glowies and Throwies

Do you want to see exactly what to do? The Fort Worth Museum has a video showing you how to construct throwies and glowies and explaining how to choose the best tape for the project.

Glow In The Dark 4K Periodic Table Wallpaper With 118 Elements

This 4K periodic table wallpaper comes with a cool radium glow in the dark effect.

Glow in the Dark 4K Periodic Table with 118 elementsEach element tile contains the element’s atomic number, symbol, name, atomic mass and electron configuration. This table includes the four proposed names and symbols for elements 113, 115, 117 and 118.

The dimensions of this table are 3840×2160 making it suitable for 4K monitors. It scales down to fit nicely on HD monitors and still manages to be easily readable. Download this wallpaper here or click the image to zoom in.

If you enjoy this type of wallpaper, be sure to check out our other Periodic Table Wallpapers. If you’d like a poster of this table, a small print (23.2″ x 13.1″) is available at our Redbubble store.

How To Make Glow in the Dark Opals (Glowing Fauxpals)

It's easy to make glow in the dark opals using resin, cellophane, and phosphorescent powder.

It’s easy to make glow in the dark opals using resin, cellophane, and phosphorescent powder.

Yes, I made up the word “fauxpals”. Writers make up words all the time ūüôā This is a super-simple tutorial for making glow in the dark opals out of resin. You don’t have to make them glow, but it’s a cool effect, so why not?

There are two big benefits to these jewels, aside from the glowing aspect. (1) Unlike regular opals, they won’t eventually lose their water and thus their opalescence and (2) These are way less expensive! True opals will cost you a mint. They are a naturally soft gemstone, so you don’t lose utility using resin instead of natural silicate.

Glow in the Dark Opal Materials

  • resin
  • mixing cup
  • stirring stick
  • mold
  • iridescent cellophane
  • scissors
  • glow powder
Selection of Glowing Opals

Selection of Glowing Opals

You can use any resin you like, so long as you keep its properties in mind during the project. Primarily you’ll be interested in the resin’s clarity, working time, and viscosity. I used Clear Cast via Amazon because I like that it’s crystal clear and that I can work with it for several minutes before it gets too thick.

I use little plastic medicine cups and coffee stirring sticks to mix the resin and inclusions. Use whatever works for you.

With the resin I used, cellophane works for this project because it stays suspended in the resin. That produces a nice three-dimensional iridescence. I tried iridescent and holographic glitter, but they were too dense and always sank to the bottom of the shape. This is problem because it makes the “opal” look flat and because it reduces the amount of light that gets to the phosphorescent powder. Some glitter isn’t color-safe in the organic solvent, so the color may run off or react unpredictably. I’m not saying you can’t use glitter, but if you do, you need to watch the viscosity of the resin and wait to pour it when it’s thick enough to suspend the particles.

Phosphorescent (glow) powder also comes in different sizes. Large particles glow brightly, but sink in resin. Look for a fine powder for this project, which produces a uniform glow throughout the opal, not just on one surface. I like the day neutral powders, which appear translucent in ordinary light. If you use a colored powder, your opal won’t be as clear or glow as brightly. Green, aqua, and blue powders glow the most brightly, so they are preferable to other colors. I’d avoid red, orange, or any of the zinc sulfide powders because they are opaque.

Let’s Make Glowing Opals!

Glowing Resin Opals Using Glitter

Glowing Resin Opals Using Glitter

Alright, so I said it’s super-simple. Basically, you mix resin, add cellophane and glow powder, pour the resin, and you’re done! However, you can save yourself some pain and suffering if you read through these tips before you start.

  1. First, you need to prepare the opalescent part of the opals. This involves snipping the cellophane into tiny pieces with scissors. Start by crumpling one or more pieces of iridescent cellophane. Place them in a shallow bowl and snip at them with scissors until you have small, irregular flakes. Larger bits of cellophane look cool, too, but when you put them in the resin, they’ll un-crinkle and may extend out into the back surface. It’s not a big deal, but if you want a smooth back to your shape, it’s better to know about this in advance. If you’re using colored cellophane, you might want to test it to make sure it’s not going to do something funky in your resin. You can probably get away with swabbing the surface with alcohol to see if color bleeds, rather than making up a whole batch of resin.
  2. Make sure your mold is clean and dry. Technically, you don’t need a mold. You could just pour a blob of resin on a flat surface or you could dome it over a flat shape. Clearcast is not a self-doming resin. Actually, it shrinks back a bit when it cures, so how you make your shape depends partly on your resin.
  3. Mix the resin. Add some cellophane and some glow powder. I say “some” because it’s completely up to you. You’ll see how the powder and cellophane affects the opacity of the resin, so it’s just a judgement call.
  4. Pour the resin. As I mentioned, if your cellophane or glitter or whatever you’re using sinks to the bottom of the mixing cup, you may want to wait until the resin thickens. I pop bubbles using a quick pass with a lighter, but you can use a toothpick. Viscosity. Opacity. Phosphorescence. Polymerization. SCIENCE!
  5. Let the resin cure completely before removing it from the mold. After it’s cured, you can polish it or leave it, as you like. Some of the pieces I’ve tried were matte coming out of the mold. That effect is nice, since it mutes the opalescence and scatters the glow. But, if you have a matte piece and want it shiny, simply paint over it with fresh resin, Modge Podge, or a related clear coating. I do not recommend nail polish, since it may yellow or flake over time.

What To Do With Glow in the Dark Opals

I’ve used the technique to make cabochons for jewelry and crafts, paperweights, and a pretty night light for my bathroom. You can use cellophane in the glowing ring project to add more daytime interest to that item. I think fauxpals would make pretty suncatchers and holiday ornaments. What are your ideas?

DIY Glow in the Dark Nail Polish

It's easy to make homemade glow in the dark nail polish

It’s easy to make homemade glow in the dark nail polish.

Make DIY glow in the dark nail polish that glows better than anything you can buy in a store. No black light needed! There are two methods that work really well, so you can pick the one that works best for you.

Using Glow Paint As Glowing Nail Polish

For the nails in the photograph, what I did was apply a clear base coat, let it dry, and then applied acrylic glow in the dark paint from a craft store. To get bright, even coverage, you’ll need 2-3 coats of paint. The brightest glow paints do not have any extra color (it would block the light), so if you want your nails to be colored under ordinary light, you’ll want to apply a regular nail polish first and then paint the glow on top of it. I took a picture of my hand in normal light, so you can see what to expect. The crystals that produce the glow add a bit of sparkle, but otherwise my nails look ordinary.

Glow in the Dark Nail Polish Materials

The other method is to mix up glow in the dark nail polish using clear polish and glow powder.

  • glow powder
  • clear nail polish or top coat
  • toothpick
  • old nail polish brush or small paint brush
Glow pigment is uncolored, so glow-painted nails look normal to slightly white under ordinary light.

Glow pigment is uncolored, so glow-painted nails look normal to slightly white under ordinary light.

The two key ingredients are glow powder and nail polish. Glow powder is phosphorescent pigment. You want the powder because it will mix with the nail polish, while a paint or glue will not. Glowing glitter works, but it doesn’t glow very brightly, so I don’t recommend it.

Glow in the dark powder¬†is¬†available online from Amazon, United Nuclear, Glow Inc., etc. Just make sure the powder you buy glows in the dark. There is also “glow powder” that only glows under a black light. This fluorescent pigment looks great under ultraviolet light, but won’t really glow in the dark.

You want a clear polish for this project because any pigment in the product will mask and diminish the glow. You can paint the glow polish over painted nails, if you want color. Some types of glow powder are colored, too.

I recommend using an old nail polish brush for this. You can clean an old brush with acetone. You can also use a small paintbrush.

Make Glowing Nail Polish

You could mix the powder and the clear polish in the bottle, but you’ll need to add small glass or metal beads to mix the product (since they don’t come in clear polish). It’s less wasteful to just mix up what you need.

  1. Pour a small amount of clear nail polish onto a dish.
  2. Use a toothpick to mix in glow powder until you get a smooth, even mixture.
  3. Immediately apply the glow polish using a nail polish brush or small paintbrush. For the brightest effect, apply the glow polish over a coat of glitter, metallic, or pale pink/white polish. The metal or pale color will reflect back the glow and enhance it.

How To Make a Glowing Resin Ring

Glowing Resin Rings

It’s easy to make your own glowing resin rings.

It’s easy to make a glowing resin ring. You don’t need any prior experience with either resin or glow in the dark (phosphorescent) materials. The length of time the ring will glow in the dark depends on the type of glow powder you use, ranging from a few minutes (zinc sulfide powders) to over 12 hours (strontium aluminate powders). You can make rings that glow in any color of the rainbow or even mix and match colors within a single ring.

Glowing Resin Ring Materials

Glowing Resin Ring Materials

Glowing Resin Ring Materials

This is a quick gratification project once you collect all the necessary materials, completed within a few minutes to a day (depending on resin choice). You’ll probably need to order resin and glow powder. If you use a utensil for this project, you shouldn’t use it for food later on. Cured resin and glow powders aren’t toxic, but it’s a safe practice.

  • resin
  • ring mold
  • glow powder
  • long handled lighter
  • paper towels
  • small measuring cups (I use medicine cups)
  • stirring sticks (I bought wooden sticks, but you can use any coffee stirrer)

Ring Molds

You can either purchase a ring mold or else make one yourself using your favorite ring as a master and making an impression in flexible molding compound. The resin ring mold I’m using is one I purchased from¬†Zougeebean Resin Jewelry and Mold Supplies¬†via Etsy. There are several excellent mold supply crafters online, so you’re sure to find a mold perfect for you. Keep in mind, resin is not as hard as metal and may soften slightly with body heat (depending on what you use), so you’re looking for a fairly thick band. This means you’ll want a ring size larger than what you would wear for a thin metal ring. I’d recommend going up at least 1 full ring size, possibly 2.


There are 3 main types of resin. All work well for glow powders, but they vary in the time required to polymerize, toxicity, and properties after curing. The hardest and most scratch resistant is polyester resin, but it’s also the most toxic to work with and evolves a horrible smell. Polyurethane and epoxy resins are the other two types. They are not as hard as cured polyester, but the don’t have a strong smell. Resins can be clear or opaque. They all require a hardener or catalyst that is mixed with the resin to cause the polymerization reaction. You need to use a clear or translucent resin with glow powders. If light can’t strike the powder, it can’t glow.

I use a clear 2-part epoxy resin made by Clear Cast¬†that I got from Amazon. It’s easy to remove bubbles, has a nice long working time, and has no odor. You can get resin online, at a craft store, or at a hardware store. Don’t buy giant containers unless you plan to burn through the resin. It only has a¬†shelf life of about 6 months.

Glow Powder

The intensity and duration of “glow” depends on the chemical composition of the powder and its particle size. Larger particles glow more brightly than smaller ones, but they also appear more granular. Aluminates glow much longer and more brightly than zinc sulfide powders. White/invisible powders glow more brightly than colored powders. Generally, glow brightness/duration is: green > aqua > blue > white > violet > red, yellow, orange. I bought my powder from Glow Inc. I’ve also heard great things about United Nuclear and Glominex. They are all kind of expensive, but you don’t need a lot. Glow powders are inactivated by water, so keep them dry. Don’t grind them or you’ll lose brightness. Make sure you get glow powder and not black light powder, which only glows under ultraviolet light. It’s cool too, but won’t glow in the dark.

Make a Glowing Resin Ring

  1. Work on paper towels or some form of covered surface. Spills happen, so this makes clean-up easier. You can clean them up with acetone, but who wants to mess with that? It’s also a good idea to wear disposable gloves. I don’t, but probably should.

    Glow Powder in Resin

    Glow Powder in Resin

  2. Get your materials together. Make sure everything is clean and completely dry. The first thing I do is mix the resin. The product I use is 1 part resin to 1 part hardener. If you have problems casting resin, the most common issue¬†is not measuring accurately enough. Carefully measure your liquids — don’t guesstimate.
  3. Clear Cast has a mega-long working time, but some resins cure within minutes. If your resin cures quickly, work fast. My procedure goes like this:
  4. Stir. Stir. Stir some more. Incomplete mixing leads to a soft, sticky end product. I mix for at least a couple of minutes.
  5. I pour a small amount into another cup and add glow pigment. This I don’t measure.¬†I just add some. More pigment gives you more brightness, yet also makes the ring more opaque. Also, pigment may (or may not) sink¬†in the resin. Experiment to get the effect you like.
  6. Pour the pigmented resin into the ring mold. I’m sure neatness counts, but if you’re sloppy, it’s okay. You can clean up the ring after its done using a razor blade or polish (depending how messy you are).
  7. Flame the top of the mold with a lighter. This will pop bubbles lurking at the surface. Don’t go all crazy and melt your mold. Just a quick pass is all it takes.

    Flame Resin To Remove Bubbles

    Flame Resin To Remove Bubbles

  8. Set the mold somewhere it won’t be disturbed. Temperature affects cure time. I set mine in a sunny windowsill and leave them alone for at least a day. The time you need depends on the resin you used. As I mentioned, some polymers harden within minutes or a couple of hours. Others take a day or more.
  9. Remove the ring from the mold when it is fully hardened. If it feels soft or sticky, give it more time. Note, polyester resin is known for sometimes feeling tacky on the exposed surface when it’s fully cured (which is then sanded off). Epoxy resin shouldn’t be sticky at all when it’s done.
  10. You can polish the ring using grades of sand paper and polishing compound or simply enjoy it as it is. Charge the ring by exposing it to light (sunlight is great). Pretty cool, right?

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section and let me know how your project turns out!

Things That Glow in the Dark

Here’s a handy list of things that glow in the dark. I’m talking about objects and substances that truly glow on their own, unlike my list of things that glow under black light, which are fluorescent and phosphorescent, not truly luminescent. Really glowing includes light produced by the following processes:

Things That Glow From Chemiluminescence

Glow sticks are among the things that glow due to chemiluminescence. (photo Dave B)

Glow sticks are among the things that glow due to chemiluminescence. (photo Dave B)

Chemiluminescence is light produced by chemical reactions. Typically, this is a two-part reaction where the first reaction releases energy that causes a fluorescent molecule to glow. Here are some examples:

  • glow sticks – these rely on the cyalume chemical reaction
  • luminol reaction – chemical reaction used in chemistry demonstrations and to detect blood that glows bright blue

Things That Glow From Bioluminescence

Some jellyfish glow in the dark from bioluminescence. Others fluoresce under ultraviolet light. (Stig Nygaard)

Some jellyfish glow in the dark from bioluminescence. Others fluoresce under ultraviolet light. (Stig Nygaard)

Bioluminescence is a special form of chemiluminescence produced by living organisms. Examples include:

  • firefly light – reaction between luciferin in the firefly and oxygen in air
  • glowing jellyfish – other forms of marine life also often glow, including many species of coral
  • foxfire – a type of bioluminescence seen in glowing fungi
  • dinoflagellates

Things That Glow From Incandescence

The incandescent light bulb glows when current passes through the filament and heats it enough to release light. (photo credit kessLflickrZ)

The incandescent light bulb glows when current passes through the filament and heats it enough to release light. (photo credit kessLflickrZ)

Incandescence is light produced by heat. Classic examples include:

  • hot burners or other metal – glow infrared, red, orange, yellow, and white hot
  • light from the sun – of course, the sun also releases light from fusion and other processes
  • incandescent light bulb – contains a metal filament that glows when heated

Glowing from Triboluminescence

Triboluminescence occurs when mechanical stress breaks the chemical bonds in crystals, releasing light. Several materials emit light when crushed, including:

Glowing Radioactive Materials

Tritium vials are readily available in a wide range of colors. They typically glow around 15 years. (Hiroyuki Takeda)

Tritium vials are readily available in a wide range of colors. They typically glow around 15 years. (Hiroyuki Takeda)

Most radioactive materials do not glow. Those that do emit light usually glow from heat (incandescence), because they oxidize or burn in air, or because they release energy which is then used to illuminate a phosphor. These radioactive materials glow:

  • tritium – radioactive isotope of hydrogen, commonly seen in gun sights and watches
  • radon – the color this element glows depends on its temperature. It’s phosphorescent yellow near its freezing point, becoming red as it is chilled even further.
  • radium – glows green because of the phosphor that is used to release light
  • actinium
  • plutonium – glows red because it’s pyrophoric, which means the surface burns in air
  • Cherenkov radiation – blue light associated with nuclear reactions

Phosphorescence To Make Things Glow in the Dark

Most of the materials people think of as “glow in the dark” are phosphorescent, which means they absorb light and then slowly release part of the absorbed energy as visible light. Many phosphorescent materials don’t glow very well on their own, but are bright when they are exposed to an energetic light source, such as a black light. Other phosphorescent materials glow for several hours. It’s interesting to note the element phosphorus, which glows, is not phosphorescent. Phosphorus glows in the dark as it oxidizes or reacts with oxygen in the air. Phosphorescent materials include:

  • zinc sulfide – found in glow in the dark stars and many other products, usually glowing green
  • alkaline earth metal aluminates – for example, strontium aluminate doped with europium. These are the brightest and longest-lasting glow in the dark pigments at present.
Phosphorus glows in the dark because it basically burns in the presence of oxygen. It is not phosphorescent! (image credit Luc Viatour)

Phosphorus glows in the dark because it basically burns in the presence of oxygen. It is not phosphorescent! (image credit Luc Viatour)