Publication No. 12260
Add several teaspoons of Instant Light crystals to water and watch as the solution instantly produces an eerie blue glow that will last for several minutes.
Instant Light, 100 g*
Water, distilled or deionized, 400 mL
Beakers, 400-mL, 2–3
Magnetic stirrer and stir bar
*Materials included in kit.
Please review current Safety Data Sheets for additional safety, handling and disposal information. Instant Light contains sodium perborate and sodium carbonate from Clorox 2® (see Tips), along with potassium ferricyanide and luminol. Potassium ferricyanide will emit poisonous fumes of hydrogen cyanide if heated or in contact with concentrated acids. The powder may be irritating to mucous membranes. Wear chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant gloves and a chemical-resistant apron.
Allow the Instant Light solution to fully react (stir for 15 minutes) and then flush down the drain with excess water according to Flinn Suggested Disposal Method #26b.
Student Worksheet PDF
Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)†
Science & Engineering PracticesDeveloping and using models
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information
Disciplinary Core IdeasMS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
MS-PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
MS-PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS1.B: Chemical Reactions
HS-PS2.B: Types of Interactions
HS-PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
Crosscutting ConceptsEnergy and matter
Stability and change
Cause and effect
Systems and system models
MS-PS1-2: Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
Answers to Questions
The oxidation of luminol is the best-known example of chemiluminescence. The following equation represents the reaction:
The chemiluminescence, or generation of light, actually occurs as the product (species II) changes from an activated state (electrons not occupying their lowest energy orbital) to its ground state (Species III). The excited electrons release energy in the form of light, hυ, as they return to their ground state.
In this demonstration, sodium perborate and sodium carbonate serve as the oxidizing agents. The ferricyanide ion serves as a catalyst—first activating the oxidizing agent and then assisting the electron transfer from the perborate ion to the luminol.
Rhonda Reist, Olathe High School, Olathe, KS, for bringing this demonstration to our attention.