Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chemical Light - The Eerie Glow of Luminol

A fascinating demonstration of chemiluminescence - the production of light by chemical reaction. When the chemical Luminol is oxidized in the presence of a catalyst, it produces a bright, eerie blue glow...

In this experiment, Luminol will react with Hydrogen Peroxide and other reagents in a chemiluminescent reaction; a reaction that produces light with no heat.

Chemicals Required:
- Sodium Hydroxide
- Luminol
- Hydrogen Peroxide (3% drugstore variety)
- Sodium Ferrocyanide

Solution A:

1. Mix 5 grams of Sodium Hydroxide in 1000 ml of water.
2. When thoroughly mixed & dissolved, pour some of this solution in a small (50 ml) beaker and add 0.1 grams of Luminol. Luminol is difficult to dissolve so to help, tilt the small beaker to one side so the Luminol powder sinks to one side. With a glass rod or popsicle stick, keep smashing the Luminol powder until it all goes into solution.
3. When the Luminol is finally dissolved, pour the contents of the small beaker into the rest of the Sodium Hydroxide solution. This is your completed 'Solution A'.

Solution B:

Mix 10 ml of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (regular drug store variety) in 1000 ml of water. Add in 0.25 grams of Sodium Ferrocyanide until dissolved. This is your completed 'Solution B'.


Luminol produces a dim, sky blue colored glow that requires a completely darkened room to view. In a darkened room, simultaneously pour equal amount of solutions A and B into a large beaker, glass container, or using a funnel, down a spiral column for a dramatic effect (see image above). As soon as the two solutions come into contact, the glow will be produced.

- United Nuclear