Is it possible to make a chemical light source with your own hands?

Oh, these Jedi, with their lightsabers, excited the minds of millions, didn’t go around us either. Everything looked more than spectacular in the cinema, and about 10 years ago multicolored glow sticks brought from a Chinese flea market and only very vaguely reminiscent of the tools of the mentioned knights made a splash. Practical people, such as fishermen and researchers, immediately appreciated such lamps not only as a means of creating a suitable surroundings, but also as an alternative light source. The chemical method for producing visible radiation is characterized by very low heat transfer. In addition, it can be used in conditions where other lamps cannot work. The inquiring minds of the experimenters immediately wondered how difficult it is to make such a chemical light source with their own hands.

Varieties of HIS

chemical light source

HIS - a factory-made chemical light source can be found not only in toy and jewelry stores. Larger and, of course, stronger models are found in the special equipment of rescuers, submariners, cavers and other specialists associated with unusual working conditions. The ingredients involved in the reaction are quite inaccessible to the average man, and some cost a serious amount. Some reagents may be unsafe, and this would be desirable to avoid in handicraft production. In general, several methods were revealed experimentally, including to no avail.

Failure with lemonade

chis chemical light source

With regret, we can say that the famous Mountain Dew drink trick does not work. To be completely precise, it does not work with the ingredients used in the known experience, because the lamp in a plastic bottle based on this drink is quite realizable. More about this later.

The simplest acetone lamp

do-it-yourself chemical light source

The catalytic oxidation of acetone can be considered as a light source, the chemical principle of which does not differ from ordinary combustion. The only difference is the absence of an open flame. Briefly, a small amount of acetone is poured into a transparent container. It is only important to create a place for the formation and accumulation of fuel vapors and mixing them with atmospheric oxygen. The copper wire is rolled up with a spring or in another way, so that the turns are closer to each other to create a larger reaction area in a smaller volume. This end of the wire is heated to redness and lowered into a container with acetone vapor, and on the surface of the copper, acetone reacts with oxygen, generating additional heat. The resulting energy maintains the reaction temperature and additionally heats the metal to a glow state. Such a lamp emits a lot of heat, and the light is obtained due to the heating of copper, but there is an unusual and chemical component, so we could not ignore it.

Chemical light by oxidation of luminol

manufacturing chemical light sources

The search for suitable ingredients and a working recipe finally led to a satisfactory result. Luminol is used in forensic medicine to detect blood residues: iron ions in plasma act as a catalyst, and luminol is oxidized with the release of light radiation. It will not be difficult to find this substance; the Galavit preparation contains sodium salt of luminol in sufficient quantities for several experiments with the manufacture of substances used as a light source. The chemical aspect of the whole action implies that the containers for the lamp will not be used in everyday life to prevent poisoning or damage to the skin with aggressive substances. Be careful when conducting experiments, use protective gloves, goggles and a respirator if necessary.

Production of chemical light sources (HIS) in aqueous solutions

chemical light

So, we decided on the main reagent, you need to think about ideal reaction conditions. As a liquid medium, a solvent is needed. Ordinary tap water can play its role, but luminol is practically insoluble in it. In order for the reaction to proceed evenly, Galavit will have to be finely ground and a suspension prepared, and a catalyst with a large release of iron or copper ions in the solution will also be needed. Copper sulfate or sulphate, as it is called, will be an excellent enhancer of the reaction in water. To create an alkaline environment will require ammonia, and preferably sodium or potassium hydroxide. Hydrogen peroxide will serve as an oxidizing agent, the proportions are as follows:

  • Mix 100 ml of water with 2-3 rubbed Galavita tablets;

  • add 50 ml of hydrogen peroxide;

  • 3-5 g of copper sulfate or red blood salt;

  • 30 ml of ammonia or 15 ml of a solution of KOH or NaOH.

The glow appears almost immediately after mixing and lasts for several hours. To continue the action you need to add grated Galavit and hydrogen peroxide to the solution and shake lightly.

Experiments with Dimexidum

chemical light source

Experiments with water give a weaker result than expected, due to the poor solubility of luminol, it is worth looking for a better environment. Dimethyl sulfoxide copes with the task of dissolving the reagents, it can be purchased in pharmacies under the name "Dimexide". Be careful when working with this drug, because its penetrating ability makes the skin permeable to various dirt, which under normal conditions is successfully restrained by our natural protective shell. The reaction catalyst will have to be removed, because with vitriol and blood salt, the reaction proceeds too rapidly and for a short time. Empirically calculated the following proportions:

  • about 20 g of KOH or NaOH in dry form (water should be completely abandoned for the purity of the experiment);

  • 100 ml of "Dimexide", there is no need to completely dissolve the hydroxide, and the reaction will begin on the surface of its precipitate;

  • 1 tablet "Galavita", powdered to dissolve faster.

By the way, such a solution can be prepared in advance and fall asleep luminol if necessary, the main thing is to make sure the reliability and tightness of the container. It is worth warning that the caustic mixture of alkali and Dimexidum corrodes plastic bottles of the day for 3-4, so it is only advisable to use such containers once and for a short time for the preparation of chemical light sources.

Other options

chemical light source

There are many recipes for creating such liquids as a chemical light source, there are options for using washing liquid as a medium and even human blood as a catalyst, but most of them are only variants of the recipes we examined. You yourself can choose your own reagents and their ratios for experience, including with Mountain Dew soda.


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