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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Glow-in-the-Dark Drinks

By March 5, 2007

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I saw something new (to me) at a spring break celebration in Myrtle Beach this weekend -- glow-in-the-dark Jell-O™ shots. I can't think of a safe way to make a drink glow in the dark, though I know you can make ice glow. (Make glowing ice sculptures or encase the outside of a punchbowl by soaking cotton balls in the liquid from glow-in-the-dark markers and freezing them in water. Do not consume the ice.) However, there are several edible substances that glow brightly from fluorescence under ultraviolet light. You can add black lights to most celebrations for your own glowing concoctions.

If you want to make glowing drinks, my advice is to get a pocket-sized black light (ultraviolet lamp) and take it shopping with you. Shine the light on products and look for a glow. Note that the glow may be a different color from the product. Also, you will discover many plastic containers are highly fluorescent. I did a little internet searching and came up with this list of beverages and additives that reputedly glow in the dark under black light. Absinthe and Blue Curacao™ contain alcohol, but the other items can be used for any occasion. Some fluorescent and phosphorescent substances will glow for several seconds after the light source is removed.
  • blue raspberry Little Hugs™ (really awful-tasting kiddie soft drink)
  • Mountain Dew™ and Diet Mountain Dew™ (one source included several 'toxic waste' recipes)
  • Tonic Water (or any drink containing quinine)
  • many sports drinks
  • Absinthe
  • Blue Curacao™
  • some of the new bright food colors
  • certain flavors of gelatin
  • vitamin B12 (glows bright yellow)
  • chlorophyll (like from spinach juice, glows blood red)

Things that Glow under Black Light | How Lightsticks Work
Photo: Jonathan Kendrick
This blue martini would glow under ultraviolet light.

Comments

March 5, 2007 at 8:21 pm
(1) Ψ*Ψ says:

Huh. I’ve been speculating about Mountain Dew fluorescence for a while. Looks like a few things I’ve made in the lab.

October 26, 2009 at 9:39 pm
(2) ATCITING says:

Corona (Beer) looks like radiator collant under blacklight spooky but beautiful.

May 6, 2010 at 11:31 pm
(3) lexie says:

I’m a 15 yr old freshman in highschool and in a pre Ap physics class. We have just resently covered chemical reactions and as a extra credit project i made some non-alcoholic drinks for the class. But Just before i let them drink, i turned the lights off and turned on a few blacklights. thier jaws dropped at the glowing liquid in thier hands, i also bought some spinage and soaked it in rubbing alcohol and showed the blood red glowing food to my classmates. Answering questions from even my teacher and student teacher made me smile. thanks for all the help i have credited your work and videos in my project as my biggest resource in descovering this fun side of chemistry!

May 21, 2010 at 11:19 am
(4) meraryescalante says:

i was wondering how to make glowing slime i do it and do it and i just dont get it

July 14, 2013 at 6:52 pm
(5) Eldon says:

Vitamin B12 is deep red in color and is not visibly fluorescent under a black light. The article should read B2.

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