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How do light sticks work?
When the stick is flexed, a glass ampule inside the stick breaks. This results in the mixing
and reaction of an organic oxalate (R-O-CO-CO-O-R', where the Rs stand for organic groups) and hydrogen
peroxide, H2O2. The reaction that produces a product in an 'excited' state. The product loses energy to relax back
down to its ground state by dumping energy to a fluorescent dye molecule present in the stick. The dye releases the
energy as brilliantly colored light.
Lightsticks are often used to demonstrate the effect of temperature on chemical reaction rates. They glow more brightly when immersed in hot water and dim in ice water.
- "The Effects of Temperature on Lightsticks", J. Chem. Educ. 76, 40A (1999).
Chemiluminescence Home Page ( Thomas G. Chasteen, Sam Houston State University)
Author: Fred Senese firstname.lastname@example.org