Greetings fellow nerds. In this video we’re going to make glow sticks of various colors and explain a few interesting points about them. But first I need to crush your expectations. So let’s begin. First we start with the solvent diethyl phthalate. We can’t use water because some of the chemicals don’t work in water. Now we add some dye to give it color. I have here four different dyes but first we’re going to start with 9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene. It looks orange in the solid state, but it dissolves to a green color. Let me shake it up. As you can see it is green when dissolved. This will give us a green color for the glow stick. Now we add the key ingredient bis(2,4,6-trichlorophenyl)oxalate, also known as TCPO. This stuff is what makes glow sticks work and provides just the right type of chemical energy to generate light when mixed with a fluorescent dye. Now I’m adding sodium acetate as a base. This reaction works better in alkaline conditions than in acidic conditions. Sodium bicarbonate and sodium salicylate also work if you don’t have sodium acetate on hand. Ok we’re ready. The final ingredient is hydrogen peroxide. This reacts with the TCPO and decomposes it, generating the chemical energy that transfers to the dye and gives it the glow. Let me get the lights. Oh look at that, it’s not fully mixed, but it’s already starting to react. Let me give it a shake. There we go. Nice! And that is a green glow stick. Ok let’s try a few more colors. Lights! Wait up for my camera to rebalance. Ok let’s start with a new batch of diethyl phthalate. Our next dye is rubrene. It looks bright red in the solid state, but after mixing you can see here it gives a bright orange color and will give a bright yellow glow. Once again we add in our TCPO. Other chemicals that can be used include bis(2,4-dinitrophenyl)oxalate, also known as DNPO. And bis(2,4,5-trichlorophenyl-6-carbopentoxyphenyl)oxalate, also known as CPPO. A lot of peroxylates can be used, but the ones I mentioned are most useful. Now for the sodium acetate. In a real glow stick all the chemicals are mixed first, but the hydrogen peroxide is kept separate in its own glass tube. When you break the tube the peroxide mixes and starts the reaction. That’s why glow sticks make that cracking sound, it’s the glass tube breaking. Here we are just going to add it directly. Lights! Whoa, that is really bright! It’s much brighter than the green one. Let me put them side-by-side. The green one isn’t dead, just my camera has set the contrast auto-balance too low. See when I take away the yellow one the camera can readjust the contrast. I can tell you personally they are actually both very bright, but the yellow one is much, MUCH, brighter. Okay, let’s set those aside and try another dye. First, the diethyl phthalate solvent. Now the dye we’re going to use is 9,10-diphenylanthracene. It’s an off-white color in the solid state, and dissolves to give a clear solution. Now all these dyes have to be fluorescent, non-fluorescent dyes do not work. It’s the fluorescent color that the dye ultimately glows with. 9,10-diphenylanthracene is clear normally but will actually give us a blue light. Okay, now let me add the TCPO and the sodium acetate. Some of you might ask if Luminol can be used. Luminol is a very different substance and works by a different reaction. While it does glow, it is much weaker and does not last as long as TCPO and similar type chemicals. Anyway, here we are with the hydrogen peroxide. Lights! Now that is a nice blue color. It actually looks closer to violet or purplish, but the camera doesn’t quite pick it up perfectly. Let me get the other ones. As you can see, the yellow one with the rubrene dye is still the brightest. Uhh… looks like the green one separated a little, ah well. A lot of people ask how long these last. And that depends on how much of the chemicals you use, and what temperature the solution is at. The amount I use here at room temperature can last several hours to a day or two. Okay, let’s try our last dye. This is Rhodamine B. It’s green in the solid state. But as you guessed by now. very few things I do are as they appear. When it dissolves it gives us this deep red color and that is also the color that it will glow. Okay, let’s add our TCPO and sodium acetate. Now there is a viral video out there that says you can make Mountain Dew glow with just baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. I can give you my expert scientific opinion that it’s fake as well as all the so-called successful copies. Mountain Dew does not have the right chemicals for it. But if you don’t believe me, just try it yourself, experimentation is the core of the scientific method. Okay enough ranting, here we are with the hydrogen peroxide. Lights! This takes a little longer to activate than the others. And that is red. Let me get the other ones to compare. Now Rhodamine isn’t actually used in glow sticks much because, as you can see, it’s decaying slowly and will die out sooner than the rest. Anyway, that is how you make different colored glow sticks. Some of you will probably ask how a white glow stick is made; it’s actually very simple. All you do is mix together yellow and blue. Oh that’s a nice multicolor effect. Anyway let me give it a shake. And there you go, that is a white glow stick. I used a tiny bit too much yellow, but here is one where I got the mixture right, just so you get the idea. Now a lot of people ask what happens if you don’t use any dye at all and if that will give you a white light anyway. The answer is no, let me show you. I’m going to mix up a batch without the dye. Now the reason why it doesn’t work is because the chemicals don’t actually release light, they release energy. This energy must then transfer into a fluorescent dye to generate light. This might sound odd but fluorescent dyes work a little differently than normal absorption based dyes. Normal absorption based dyes work by absorbing particular colors and then reflecting or passing through other colors. Now fluorescent dyes also do this but they can also generate light by converting light of high energy, like ultraviolet, into light of lower energy, like the visible colors you see. Normal dyes don’t have this mode of operation. The TCPO and hydrogen peroxide chemicals generate chemical energy that a fluorescent dye can convert into visible light, without needing ultraviolet light. If they directly generated light then we could see it without the dye. Okay enough talk, the best of science is testing our theories. LIGHTS! I’m adding in the hydrogen peroxide now. And as you can see, nothing visible is happening. The chemical reaction is going though, but without a fluorescent dye to convert the energy it’s just being lost as heat. Here’s a comparison of the theories. I think it’s pretty obvious which one as more supporting evidence. TCPO does NOT generate light, not even UV light. It generates energy, which must transfer into a fluorescent dye. And that’s the basic science of glow sticks. Thanks for watching, please subscribe, rate and comment.

Make Glow Sticks – The Science
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100 thoughts on “Make Glow Sticks – The Science

  • March 30, 2017 at 9:41 am
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    Wow, i'm so intetest

    Reply
  • April 26, 2017 at 9:42 am
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    I NEED HEALING
    SO I PICK YELLOW

    XD

    Reply
  • May 3, 2017 at 6:08 am
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    Be careful you don't want get hurt

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  • May 8, 2017 at 7:34 pm
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    where can I buy the materials?

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  • May 9, 2017 at 5:56 pm
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    what form of energy does the initial reaction release? heat? infrared? new subscriber, sorry.

    Reply
  • May 12, 2017 at 5:42 pm
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    Is there such a thing as purple without the decaying red
    because then you can do purple and green to make white
    i understand you want to avoid the red
    so you can't do red green and blue
    (just curious about all possibilities)

    Reply
  • May 14, 2017 at 5:58 am
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    Can flourescein work?

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  • May 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm
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    Can one replace Diethyl Pthalate with some other solvent and get similar results ?

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  • May 31, 2017 at 4:28 pm
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    3:19 Green becomes brighter

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  • June 1, 2017 at 4:11 am
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    I have bought glow sticks from all over and I promise you, you're better off just getting glow sticks from walmart. They are not the best, but they are the best options when you don't want to order them off the net and are far better than dollar store or party stores. Halloween stores usually have good ones too, if just so happens to be October.

    Reply
  • June 1, 2017 at 10:30 pm
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    Awesome

    Reply
  • June 6, 2017 at 9:08 pm
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    Does anyone know where I can buy some glow in the dark liquid of this sort? I need it for a science experiment and is there a brand that is non toxic?

    Reply
  • June 10, 2017 at 11:22 am
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    how long do they work?

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  • June 10, 2017 at 7:11 pm
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    Great stuff! Did you work out the chemistry or obtain it somewhere else?

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  • June 15, 2017 at 2:10 am
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    Roses are red
    Blue is purple
    I think glowing sticks are cool don't you think do

    Reply
  • June 15, 2017 at 2:11 am
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    So 😝

    Reply
  • June 18, 2017 at 4:14 pm
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    COOL! $273.52 in chemicals and 3-1/2 hrs later I have a $0.07 glow stick!

    Reply
  • June 28, 2017 at 1:39 am
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    When this method has been discovered?

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  • August 17, 2017 at 11:07 am
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    Will more dye make it darker or brighter?

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  • October 9, 2017 at 2:57 am
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    Seeing that the yellow mixture is brightest, I'd imagine that's why the majority of safety light sticks come as yellow?

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  • October 11, 2017 at 1:41 am
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    Avogadr.io shows the same compound with different molecules. I have no idea why that's the case. The compound was the TCPO. For TCPO, I got 3 chlorine atoms and an oxygen atom. The bond is like 3 chlorines connecting to one bonding line, then forming a bit of a triangle that bonds twice with the oxygen. For the bis, I got 4 oxygens in the middle with 2 double-bonded oxygens and 2 single-bonded oxygens, with the double-bonds linking into the single-bond, and 3 chlorines on both sides. The chlorines have hex-ring bonds, hex outside, ring in the middle, for both sides. They all have single-bonds to the rings, and single-bond to the oxygen section. I get the same issue with CPPO.

    Reply
  • October 21, 2017 at 7:18 am
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    This is very helpful and understandable for a complicated reaction and I like how you say long chemical name then before ending the video you just say "and that is the basic of glowstick"

    Reply
  • October 21, 2017 at 7:32 am
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    If I put glue theoratically it should become glowing slime right?

    Reply
  • October 30, 2017 at 8:44 pm
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    I'm Not a Nerd Your a Nerd Nerd

    Reply
  • November 8, 2017 at 7:58 pm
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    Where can you order this ingredients at? I would like to know because I am doing a science experiment to make a new invention.

    Reply
  • November 15, 2017 at 7:17 am
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    this is much better than zinc sulfide!

    Reply
  • November 19, 2017 at 12:30 am
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    that is pretty cool

    Reply
  • December 10, 2017 at 1:50 pm
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    Will it glow if I just simply heat up(energy) the dye?

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  • December 21, 2017 at 3:46 pm
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    A normal human don't have these much chemicals 😐

    Reply
  • December 22, 2017 at 4:42 pm
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    Spoiler: NurdRage is NileRed's alter ego

    Reply
  • December 30, 2017 at 12:40 pm
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    so you should be able to add highlighter dye

    Reply
  • January 5, 2018 at 10:43 pm
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    Looks like cocaine

    Reply
  • January 13, 2018 at 9:58 am
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    Great work on explaining, and you keep me interested by your commentary! Great work!

    Reply
  • January 17, 2018 at 1:42 am
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    SCIENCE!

    Reply
  • January 18, 2018 at 8:18 pm
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    hi, is this toxic for skin? how dangerous are those chemicals?

    Reply
  • January 19, 2018 at 6:26 am
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    Does anybody know any other pigment that could be used for blue other than the 9 10 diphenylanthracene trying to do a science fair experiment for my kid and its adding up pretty quick

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  • January 19, 2018 at 10:29 am
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    I don't understand anything

    Reply
  • January 30, 2018 at 3:11 am
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    May i know how many percent of hydrogen peroxide?

    Reply
  • February 3, 2018 at 8:00 am
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    AWESOME SAUCE! 🍝

    Reply
  • February 8, 2018 at 10:32 am
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    Speak English

    Reply
  • February 8, 2018 at 4:52 pm
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    Are they reusable?

    Reply
  • February 19, 2018 at 11:30 am
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    Plz sale a kit

    Reply
  • February 27, 2018 at 12:37 pm
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    Are u that saw guy?

    Reply
  • March 4, 2018 at 1:58 pm
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    Umm I feel dumb now

    Reply
  • March 5, 2018 at 11:08 pm
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    He reminds me of Kylo Ren

    Reply
  • March 8, 2018 at 9:50 am
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    Can't get 30% Hydrogen Peroxide in the UK.

    Reply
  • March 9, 2018 at 5:08 am
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    How does that transfer energy work? What kind of energy transfered into dye? Heat? electromagnetic?

    Reply
  • March 16, 2018 at 9:52 pm
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    We need uv light to see them glowing ? And can we use in paints so when light goes off these color will glow in normal darkness?

    Reply
  • March 18, 2018 at 3:55 pm
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    Would this stuff be safe to paint with?

    Reply
  • March 31, 2018 at 1:28 am
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    Well if the world ends , atleast I'll have the knowledge to make these .

    Reply
  • April 8, 2018 at 11:06 am
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    Does highlighter colour work

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  • April 15, 2018 at 6:43 am
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    Wft I'm lost

    Reply
  • May 5, 2018 at 3:17 am
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    are any of these chemicals toxic or dangerouse?

    Reply
  • May 10, 2018 at 9:09 pm
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    Ahh! Thanks for suggesting me this! I can't wait to present this in chemistry next week. Thanks for the help NurdRage!

    Reply
  • May 14, 2018 at 7:13 am
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    Bigclive made me com here and i am not disappointed

    Reply
  • May 14, 2018 at 7:15 am
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    What you imagined science as a kid this and that ues it glows

    Reply
  • May 15, 2018 at 3:10 am
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    Is it hot?

    Reply
  • May 16, 2018 at 3:38 am
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    Would this method work for an infrared light?

    Reply
  • May 19, 2018 at 7:22 am
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    We've actually just learned about this rainbow thing in the middle of art but it really seems that we are doing some historical stuff too proceed how could such a day light can create some shape bow with colors into it just like a symbol so yeah how fascinate because of all science about creation is all of how too start with the white whites can just only mean one thing it just starts like that but I can not tell the whole am not a professional teacher or something that you might of not forget too the first part of how can a rainbow be created but still it was totally cool because it showed up out a Now where so that must of always just happened then before a whole line of a shape half of a Crescent just showed up in the middle of nowhere too bright up the whole day all those blurry colors from a far away distance just imagine how I just a little bit closer too it that couldn't latterly just look like in the book. .so yeah how would you guys be so addicted of you really seen a rainbow like this close or how you create one if you we're that bit of a smart pro for science.

    Reply
  • June 5, 2018 at 6:27 am
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    Research flat earth

    Reply
  • June 28, 2018 at 5:54 pm
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    1:47 orks are near

    Reply
  • July 4, 2018 at 5:28 pm
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    Pretty interesting!

    Reply
  • July 13, 2018 at 10:44 am
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    where can i buy all products please. thanks

    Reply
  • July 20, 2018 at 2:34 am
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    I like your experiment for learning.. Master chemist

    Reply
  • July 29, 2018 at 7:22 pm
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    wow. Don't know what the fuck any of this is.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2018 at 4:35 am
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    ow i wanna make
    but im a kid just to make and we dont have the items to make a glowstick

    Reply
  • September 13, 2018 at 9:46 am
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    hello how long hour product lighhts?

    Reply
  • October 1, 2018 at 6:51 pm
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    how long do these last?

    Reply
  • October 6, 2018 at 3:47 pm
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    where can u buy those chemicals

    Reply
  • October 23, 2018 at 4:10 am
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    Dude I like this guy !!!

    Reply
  • October 23, 2018 at 4:10 am
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    I respect you a lot man

    Reply
  • October 23, 2018 at 4:11 am
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    Something about this guy's explanation makes me have hope for Humanity

    Reply
  • November 1, 2018 at 6:43 pm
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    Can i use this in my inkjet printer to glow the printed meteeial?

    Reply
  • November 1, 2018 at 10:24 pm
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    How long will it last?

    Reply
  • November 6, 2018 at 1:45 am
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    That was awesome

    Reply
  • November 14, 2018 at 2:50 pm
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    what the price of all the ingridients

    Reply
  • November 22, 2018 at 5:42 am
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    Sad to see all these comments confirms how stupid people have become

    Reply
  • December 15, 2018 at 11:42 am
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    How does the base catalyst the reaction?

    Reply
  • January 2, 2019 at 7:00 am
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    That was fantastic! Thank you. So interesting 🙂

    Reply
  • January 10, 2019 at 7:28 am
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    Hi
    Do you know how how to change silver Mercury to red ?
    Thank you

    Reply
  • January 18, 2019 at 2:34 pm
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    Also known as
    T-SERIES

    Reply
  • January 18, 2019 at 8:56 pm
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    Will fluorescent dyes work as an electroluminescent phosphor ?

    Reply
  • January 28, 2019 at 10:53 am
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    do you see there is water coming when you mixed the last chemical without light? can we drink that water?

    Reply
  • February 5, 2019 at 10:46 pm
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    but…what happends if i eat that final glow stick solution….?

    Reply
  • February 7, 2019 at 12:56 am
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    Got a minute and a half now my brain hurts

    Reply
  • February 18, 2019 at 10:55 am
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    Awesome video !
    Thanks !

    Reply
  • March 22, 2019 at 6:17 pm
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    unfortunately you have to be a licensed chemist or registered business to purchase from either company that he sourced his products from. I know for a fact that's the case for Sigma Aldrich, as my order was cancelled for those exact reasons.

    Reply
  • March 31, 2019 at 9:38 am
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    Where we can buy the chemical?

    Reply
  • May 1, 2019 at 10:05 pm
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    Yo Mr White

    Reply
  • May 7, 2019 at 7:37 am
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    "Let me give it a shake. There we go, NOICEEEEE!!!" 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Reply
  • May 7, 2019 at 7:39 am
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    This guy is gonna survive the apocalypse when we run out of power.

    Reply
  • May 7, 2019 at 7:40 am
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    Depends on how much chemicals you put.

    Me: Adds 1 KG of everything!!!

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  • May 23, 2019 at 11:17 pm
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    one of the pictures is on the mystery science.com

    Reply
  • June 3, 2019 at 5:28 am
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    Wait ok correct me if im wrong but it looks like u are using the same scoopula for everything. Isnt that contaminating all the other compounds?

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  • June 7, 2019 at 8:43 pm
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    Looks red when raw
    Looks orange when dissolved
    And yellow when it glows

    Nice

    Reply
  • June 8, 2019 at 6:35 pm
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    Nuke fam reaction but this a little brother

    Reply
  • July 24, 2019 at 8:29 pm
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    i just hope you will make a new youth currious into science ! my deepest regards!!

    Reply
  • August 1, 2019 at 11:41 am
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    it is available in India ?

    Reply
  • August 28, 2019 at 5:09 pm
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    How much did this cost??

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 4:56 pm
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    I WOULD PREFER YOU TO BUY THIS INSTEAD OF MAKING AT HOME🤣🤣

    Reply

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