How to Make Glow in the Dark Ink

Glowing Phosphorus Ink

White phosphorus powder glows green in the presence of oxygen.
White phosphorus powder glows green in the presence of oxygen. Luc Viatour, Creative Commons License

These are instructions for making glow in the dark ink. However, the instructions are presented as a curiosity or for information only, not for use except as a demonstration. Phosphorus burns on exposure to air and is very poisonous (~50 mg fatal dose). However, the ink is safer than most radioactive versions.

What You Need

  • 1 oz oil of cinnamon
  • 1/4 oz phosphorus
  • bottle with cap
  • hot water bath

How To Make Glow in the Dark Ink

  1. Combine the oil of cinnamon and phosphorus in a small bottle.
  2. Cap the bottle and place it in a hot water bath.
  3. Heat the bottle until the ingredients have melted together. Phosphorus will not dissolve in water, but other oils may be substituted for the oil of cinnamon.
  4. While this ink may be suitable for a chemistry lab demonstration, it is not something the average person should attempt to make or use.

Tips for Glowing Success

  1. Phosphorus is essential for human nutrition, yet is highly toxic beyond a certain dose.
  2. White phosphorus will convert to red phosphorus when exposed to sunlight or heated in its own vapor. While white phosphorus oxidizes to produce a greenish glow, red phosphorus will not.
  3. Phosphorus will burn spontaneously in air and cause severe burns if it comes in contact with skin.
  4. There are many forms (allotropes) of phosphorus, including white or yellow, red, and black or violet.
  5. Cinnamon oil is irritating to the skin and harmful if swallowed in pure form.