Glow in the Dark Glass Pipes: How are They Made?
You can find novelty smoking items in head shops across the world, but none quite as fascinating as a glow in the dark pipe. Even in the light their translucent colors captivate smokers, but they truly shine in the dark when they eerily begin to radiate their surroundings. These luminescent pipes have been stunning smokers since their inception, but what makes them glow? Artists continue to push their creativity, designing heady glow in the dark glass that has more people adding them to their collections, so how do they do it?
The Science behind the Glow
Any glow in the dark item is made using phosphors – a substance that exhibits the phenomenon of luminescence, or spontaneous emission of light. Phosphors do this by storing energy collected from photons, i.e. light, which is then gradually released in the form of an ethereal glow. When the energy has been expended, the glow will fade into darkness. There are thousands of compounds that can act as a phosphor and they all have three distinct characteristics:
- The energy they require to charge
- The length of time they will glow after charging
- The color of light they will produce
While phosphors collect energy, not all energy is the same. For instance, UV reactive glass pipes also uses phosphors, but they require UV light to charge and glow. For glow in the dark pipes, glass artists need a phosphor that gains energy from normal light and that lasts a long time. While there are many that fit this description, not all of them can handle the conditions necessary for manipulating borosilicate.
Getting it in the Glass
Most often glow in the dark glass is made using phosphor dust, a fine powder pigment. To apply this to the glass, the molten borosilicate is rolled in the powder before being put back into the heat to melt into the clear glass. By repeating this process and working the glass, artists can create breathtakingly unique pieces. In the scope of glassblowing, it is crucial to understand the characteristics of the phosphors being used. The average furnace temperatures can exceed 2000 °F, but several phosphors have melting points lower than this. Using the wrong phosphor could make the glass unstable and lead to an explosion.
There are plenty more uses for phosphors other than creating dank glow in the dark bongs! So much so that most people likely encounter them on a daily basis without realizing it. For example, fluorescent lights contain phosphors, as well as TV screens. Another common use of phosphors is in glow in the dark toys! Cue flashback to Glo Worms and the stars on your childhood bedroom ceiling.
Now that you know how many things use phosphors, we hope that doesn’t ruin the novelty of glow in the dark glass! They’re brilliant pieces to have in your collection and are great for party pieces or a black out. Update your daily driver or keep it for a dark day, it will always manage to brighten up your day.