are glow sticks toxic?

Glow sticks are used everywhere on many occasions these days. They are sticks that emit light when you bend them. How cool is that?

Those sticks have been heavily used during some anniversaries like Halloween or new years eve. They can be a lot of fun during special and decorated events especially for children.

But with any product that involves chemical reactions, a question comes along. Is it dangerous? Are glow sticks toxic?

Glow sticks are usually labeled as not toxic on their packages. They are safe most of the time. However, they can cause some damage if the chemicals inside them touch the skin, the mouth or the eye. With that said, if you are careful enough, glow sticks won’t hurt you or your children.

How do glow sticks work and what do they consist of?

In order to know how much danger can glow sticks impose on your children, we need to first know how they work and what they contain.

Glow sticks are possible because of a phenomenon called Chemiluminescence. This long and fancy name is just another way of saying that some chemical reactions can produce light.

Glow sticks contain 2 separate chemical solutions inside them. One is diphenyl oxalate and the other one is hydrogen peroxide which is stored inside a floating glass cylinder inside the glow stick.

The glass cylinder separates the two chemical solutions from each other. When you bend the glow stick, you break the glass cylinder and the two solutions mix together. The result is a chemical reaction that produces the light that you see.

The color of the light depends on the dye added to the diphenyl oxalate solution.

Some glow sticks use different chemical solutions to produce the same result. But the two solutions above are the most commonly used.

If you want more detailed information about how the reaction itself happens, you can find the information here. I won’t go into such details here because the general reader might not be interested in a chemistry lesson.

How can glow sticks hurt your child?

People should always stay away from many chemical solutions out there. Since glow sticks require a chemical reaction to work, it means that there is a possibility that the chemicals reach the skin of your child.

If the chemicals reach your child, they might burn their eyes, sting their skin and they might also hurt their mouth and throat if they were swallowed.

However, you don’t need to worry a lot. As long as the glow stick is not opened, the chemicals will stay inside and no harm will be caused.

Also, the glow sticks contain broken glass. This means that if the glow stick is opened, there’s a chance that your child will hurt theirself with the glass shards inside.

How to protect your child from getting hurt?

You don’t have to deprive your child from the fun that they can have with glow sticks to keep them safe. What you can do however is make sure that they get rid of the stick immediately after they use it, and make sure that they do not attempt to open it in any way.

As mentioned before, as long as the glow stick is not opened, your child is 100% safe and you don’t have to worry about anything.

What to do if the chemicals inside the glow stick touch your child’s body?

Children might tend to bite the glow sticks out of curiosity and that might cause them to open. This can expose their body to the chemicals inside the glow stick.

If that happens, do not panic, but you need to act immediately.

Apply water on the place where the chemicals contacted your child’s body. Also make sure that you call a poison control center and explain to them exactly what happened. They’ll tell you what to do depending on the symptoms and the general situation.

If a poison control center is not available, make sure to contact any doctor that you know that can help with the situation.

If you have pets, you need to be careful too. Pets might bite the glow sticks and that can hurt them too. So make sure that your pet isn’t near any glow sticks and contact a doctor in case one of your pets opens a glow stick and gets hurt.

To summarize

Glow sticks are harmless if they aren’t opened. However, children or pets might try to bite them and that can open the glow sticks and expose the opener to some chemical damage. If damage occurs, you need to apply water and then contact your doctor or the poison control center and do what they tell you to do.