This activity first happened because a friend conveniently mentioned glow stick baths when it was bath night at my house on a night that my husband was away on a work trip. It seemed like a great way to turn baths into a fun event rather than a chore. It also gave the girls something new and different to do that maybe helped distract a little bit from missing Daddy. I also had glow sticks and this is super simple. All you do is put glow sticks in the tub and turn out the lights. We used bubbles too. This was a huge hit with my girls and it has become a frequent bath time request.
While this can just a fun way to play, there is also some interesting chemistry going on here. What you’re seeing with your glow stick is something called chemiluminesence – this is the emission of light from a chemical reaction. You can see the emission of light because that is the glowing. The chemical reaction is what’s happening inside the glow stick. As you’ve probably noticed you have to snap the glow stick before it will start to glow. There is actually a thin glass tube inside the glow stick that breaks when you bend it. The glass tube contains one chemical (hydrogen peroxide) and when the tube breaks it mixes with the chemicals that were outside the tube (a dye and diphenyl oxalate). When the hydrogen peroxide and diphenyl oxalate mix together the chemical reaction starts and energy is released. The dye takes the energy for a little while and when it releases the energy it does so as photon of light – and you have a glowing stick! Yay!