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Creating Light

  1. Mar 24, 2005 #1
    I have had a quick look around and I can't find a reaction (made of easy-to-get substances) that will create light. I was wondering if anyone knew a reaction that would create light but the substances needed are not hard to get or unusual. My aim is to find a reaction that I can do when I am away and I have few supplies on me.


    The Bob (2004 ©)
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  3. Mar 24, 2005 #2


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    candle + matches :smile:

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  4. Mar 24, 2005 #3


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    How about burning pure magnesium...?Or white phosphorus?

  5. Mar 25, 2005 #4
    Ok. Here is the next rule (that I thought I was implying). No matches or fire or lighter. It has to be a chemical reaction.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
  6. Mar 25, 2005 #5
    sodium (or lithium, potassium, cesium, francium) metal + water
  7. Mar 25, 2005 #6
    how easy to get? You could use Luminol + hydrogen peroxide + metal catalyst (iron or copper or...)

    or you could find some phenyl oxalate esters

    Or buy a few light sticks (cheaper than buying the above from a catalogue). Cut them open on the ends and retain the liquid within. The glass tube inside of the stick will have the peroxide and catalyst in it. Mix and say the magic words...
  8. Mar 25, 2005 #7


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    I don't know whether you're trying to do a chemistry experiment, or actually survive an extended bivouac, but I'll tell you the light sources used by two groups of people to whom light is very important: cavers and professional search-and-rescue field team members.

    1) Waterproof matches and clothes-dryer lint. These two are used more specifically to start fires than provide light, but fire does both!

    2) LED headlamp, with extra batteries.

    3) Standard Bic lighter.

    4) A couple of chemical lightsticks.

    Boring, I know, but all quite functional.

    - Warren
  9. Mar 25, 2005 #8
    The idea is to surprise some people I have to teach. My idea was to add the chemicals to food (that no one will eat - just to reassure you) or in a glass and for light to be created. I have the equipment you mentioned (minus the chemical glow sticks but they are easy to get) I have. I was simply wondering if there was an reactions (minus the glow stick) that I could use. This is not homework or for my chemistry course but for an affect and my own interest, so an reaction (even if I cannot do it at home) would be interesting to see.


    The Bob (2004 ©)
  10. Mar 25, 2005 #9


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  11. Mar 26, 2005 #10
    No, I hadn't seen this but it is a lot of equipment to carry. Let me give you a full scenario:

    I will be in the woods or an open field. I need to create light. It is Army based training so I need to take the smallest amount of equipment I can. I am leading the training the night before we go out but I want to surprise people with light from what seems to be nothing. I think I will have two spare pockets and maybe a few more on my bag but still I want to take little supplies of the substances that I need to create light.

    Has anyone, therefore, got any ideas for how I can do this?? The light needs to last for about 10 minutes (but ideas for longer would be nice).


    The Bob (2004 ©)
  12. Mar 26, 2005 #11
  13. Mar 26, 2005 #12
    Where does one get Elemental Sodium?
  14. Mar 26, 2005 #13
    Try crushing a wintergreen life-saver!...and do a web search on "triboluminescence" for the details of how it works.
  15. Mar 28, 2005 #14
    You are all thinking too hard. Go to the store and buy a glowstick. simple as that.
  16. Mar 28, 2005 #15


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    But, quoth he:

  17. Mar 28, 2005 #16
    I guess i read all the posts too fast. My bad :smile:
  18. Mar 28, 2005 #17
    I don't think you'll find any francium! ;) Li doesn't react too vigorously with H2O (it's a lot like Ca). K & Cs will pretty much produce an explosion with H2O. But if that's all you want, set off some black powder or flash powder!
  19. Apr 3, 2005 #18
    Can't carry much.

    Also (to all the people that have said it), the Group 1 metals would need to be kept in oil and that needs a glass bottle and gloves and tweezers. I need a reaction that will produce light for some time (again, minus the glow stick one). This really is to be impressive as most of the stuff I have to teach is standard and not really exciting and I want to make the lessons more fun to learn than lecture to learn.


    The Bob (2004 ©)
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