Today I was playing with glow sticks and decided to learn how they glow. Glow sticks are made out of plastic tubing which encase two solutions, when mixed create a chemical reaction that produces the glow. The outer casing holds together the inner tube and the phenyl oxalate and fluorescent dye solution. The inner tube holds the hydrogen peroxide solution. When you crack the inner tube the mixing of the two solutions creates a chemical reaction in which 2 phenol molecules and a peroxyacid ester is formed. The peroxyacid ester then reacts with the dye to create carbon dioxide and dye with a heightened energy state. This energy is then dissipated in the form of releasing a photon. This photon release is what causes the glowing color you see. The color is dependent on the dye.
Important things to remember are when glow sticks break, WASH from your skin and eyes immediately as the phenol is not good for you! So stay safe and enjoy them glow sticks! Also enjoy these photos taken having fun with glow sticks!