Contact Information

  • Miguel O. Mitchell
  • Professor
  • Chemistry
  • Salisbury University
  • Salisbury, MD 21801
(410) 677 - 5064

A Greener Chemiluminescence Demonstration

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This demonstration shows students a long-lasting, chemiluminescent reaction in light sticks without the toxic solvents. The instructor must prepare the chemiluminescent reagent, divanillyl oxalate, in a one-step synthetic procedure or can have the students prepare the reagent as part of an organic chemistry experiment.

Solvents acceptable for the chemiluminescence reaction are ethyl acetate or triacetin; divanillyl oxalate forms what appears to be a colloidal suspension, not a true solution. Dissolve 20 mg divanillyl oxalate in 20 mL solvent with magnetic stirring for 20 minutes before addition of the fluorescer. Subsequently, dissolve 5 mg fluorescer (such as perylene, about 2 minutes magnetic stirring), add 1.0 mL 30% hydrogen peroxide (for ethyl acetate) or 3% hydrogen peroxide (for triacetin), darken the room, and add 1.0 mL 1M NaOH (aq) to initiate chemiluminescence.

Summary prepared March 2012 by Professor Miguel O. Mitchell, Salisbury University.


Jilani, O.; Donahue, T.; Mitchell, M. O. A Greener Chemiluminescence Demonstration, J. Chem. Educ,, Print 2011, 88, pp 786-787.

Category Descriptors

Chemistry Concepts
  • Carbonyl Chemistry
  • Esters
  • Nucleophilic Substitution
Green Chemistry Principles
  • Design for Degradation
  • Design Safer Chemicals and Products
Chemistry Subdiscipline
  • Organic Chemistry
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  • General Public
  • Primary Schools
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  • Journal Articles