New Glow-ey Project

I was looking at some empty glass Coke bottles the other day and started wondering how I could make something beautiful out of them. Since I can’t seem to shut up for 2 minutes about high-power LEDs and music visualization, I started envisioning some kind of music visualizer based on glowing bottles.

Not sure what the best material to use is yet. My thought is that UV glow paint might work well, but it can be kind of expensive.

I bought a ton of glowsticks off of Woot a while ago, so I’ve been wondering how I can use them. I decided to crack a few open to test things out.

The first one I opened was blue. I first cracked the glass vial inside it, let the reaction finish, and then held it up to a UV light. Then, I added some water to see how much I could dilute it.

I noticed that the material wasn’t dissolving too well. Also, I couldn’t tell where the fluorescent dye was located. A glowstick basically has two parts: the first is a reservoir of hydrogen peroxide; the second contains dye and some other stuff. When glass vial is broken, the peroxide mixes and causes a chemical reaction to occur. However, the dye itself can also respond to a UV light and that’s what I’m trying to take advantage of.

I decided to open up two red glowsticks to see… Turns out, for these glowsticks, the dye is located in the vial (most times, the peroxide is in the vial).

So, I wrapped the very tip with a paper towel and used a pair of diagonal colors to chip off the very top and pour it into a Coke bottle. Awesome picture ahead:

Here’s what two vials worth of glowstick dye look like in the bottle.

I tried adding water. Looked okay at first:

But it separated out! Damn… it must be oil-based.

So I carefully got the bubble out of the bottle of water (tipped it upside down, waited for the bubble to fall down to the bottom, let it out). Then, I refilled the bottle with a bit of olive oil to see if it would mix with the oil. Turns out, it does!

(the stuff at the bottom is just excess water… ignore it.)

Unfortunately, you can’t use olive oil forever — it’ll just go rancid. So, you need to use mineral oil, which isn’t particularly cheap. Maybe it would better to use these glass vials of dye in their own project. I could easily make some kind of visualizer out of them. Perhaps I’ll save the Coke bottles for a future project.

(Sorry about the crappy photos — I was using my phone).

2 Responses to “New Glow-ey Project”

  • why is that a problem, that it is oil based?

  • If it’s oil-based, then you need to use an oil to dilute it. But if you use e.g. vegetable oil, it’ll go rancid. So you need mineral oil. Apparently, I can get a gallon of it on Amazon for only about $15, so that might be an option if I can figure out how to seal the top of the Coke bottles. Another option is to coat the inside of the bottles with UV paint… I’m looking into how easy that would be as well.

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