What Makes Glow in the Dark Paint Glow?


Quick Answer

Glow in the dark paint gets its glow from the oxidation of white phosphorous. The paint glows after exposure to illumination.

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Full Answer

Although the term "phosphorescence" means glowing after illumination and derives from phosphorus, the glow that occurs after the oxidation should technically be called chemiluminescence. Phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth in nature because it has highly reactive properties.

White phosphorous was the first form of phosphorous to be discovered. It emits a faint glow when exposed to oxygen (oxidation). Its name is derived from Greek mythology and means "light bearer," referring to the planet Venus, or the "Morning Star".

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