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Glow in the Dark Pumpkin

Glowing Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin

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This spooky Halloween pumpkin glows in the dark.

This spooky Halloween pumpkin glows in the dark. The jack-o-lantern face is formed by the areas that aren't coated with phosphorescent paint.

Anne Helmenstine
You can make a glow in the dark pumpkin with a jack-o-lantern face using a common non-toxic chemical. The jack-o-lantern doesn't require carving or fire, shines in rain or wind, and lasts as long as your pumpkin. Plus, the glowing pumpkin looks really spooky!

Glow in the Dark Pumpkin Materials

It's very easy to make a glow in the dark pumpkin and it doesn't require many materials:
  • pumpkin (real, carved, or artificial)
  • glow in the dark paint
  • paintbrush (optional)
  • masking tape to form a jack-o-lantern face (optional)

Make the Pumpkin Glow

Basically all you need to do is coat a pumpkin with glow in the dark paint. The glow in the dark paint can be obtained from any arts and crafts store. You can use glow in the dark acrylic paint for making models, glowing tempera paint, or glow in the dark fabric paint. I used glowing fabric paint, which dries clear and is waterproof.
  1. Paint your pumpkin.
  2. Shine a bright light on the pumpkin, then turn out the lights. If the pumpkin does not glow as brightly as you would like, apply one or more coats of glow in the dark paint.

Creating a Jack-o-Lantern Face

For this project, the jack-o-lantern face is the part that does not glow. If you are using a carved jack-o-lantern, you've already got a face. If you just want a glowing pumpkin, you simply coat the pumpkin with glow in the dark paint, and you're finished. If you want a face on an intact pumpkin you have a few different options for creating it:
  • Trace a face on the pumpkin and paint around the face.
  • Tape a face on the pumpkin, paint the entire pumpkin, and remove the tape when the paint is dry.

How Long Will the Glowing Pumpkin Glow?

How long your pumpkin glows depends on the chemical used to make it glow and the light you used to charge your pumpkin. Zinc sulfide is a phosphorescent non-toxic chemical used in most glow in the dark paints. If you shine a bright light on it, you can expect it to glow for several minutes up to an hour. If you shine an ultraviolet lamp or black light onto the pumpkin, it will glow more brightly, but probably not any longer. If you used tritium-based paint, you will not need to apply light in order to make your pumpkin glow, plus the pumpkin will glow pretty much until the end of time.

How Long Will the Glowing Pumpkin Last?

The type of pumpkin you use will determine how long your glowing pumpkin will last. If you paint a carved jack-o-lantern, expect the pumpkin to last a few days to a week. An uncarved pumpkin may last a few months. An artificial pumpkin can be used year after year.

Watch a video of this project.

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