How do glow sticks work and what chemicals do they contain?

The chemical process used in a glow stick is not that far from the chemical process that occurs inside a lightning bug.

When you open the glow stick package, you find a stick with yellow liquid inside (generally, a chemical called luciferin).

Inside the yellow liquid is a glass tube that contains a chemical enzyme (generally, luciferase). When you break the glass tube by bending the stick, per the directions, the two chemicals mix, creating a lot of energy and giving you a good glow.

A lightning bug creates a glow in the same way—mixing the two chemical enzymes luciferin and luciferase.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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