What Are Glow Sticks Used For?

neon glow image by Laura Lupton from Fotolia.com

Glow sticks get their appearance because of a chemical reaction. Some even show infrared radiation that night-vision equipment detects. Glow sticks are available to the public and the military. They are cheap and simple to activate. Glow sticks are also waterproof, easily transported and come in different shapes, colors and sizes. They are used by children and adults in various settings.


The military uses glow sticks in their safety kits and as field markers. They are light, easy to carry and simple to activate. Soldiers use them to define targets, alert others to danger, mark trails and assist with night visibility. Specialty glow sticks involve infrared radiation. These are not detectable unless you use equipment that picks up thermal imaging, such as night-vision goggles.

Emergency Settings

People use glow sticks instead of flares to alert others to broken-down vehicles and accidents. Glow sticks are a safe lighting alternative after electrical failure, bad weather and natural disasters. They are simple to light, easy to store and do not have an open flame that could cause a fire. As glow sticks do not have any electrified components, they are safe to use in potentially explosive settings.


Glow sticks light the way for night divers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts. People bring them camping and hiking and attach them to their backpacks or clothing. Glow sticks can define trails, alert others to dangers and provide a light perimeter to camping sites. Night golf and Frisbee enthusiasts use them to mark trails and equipment. Children use them to play night tag and often wear them while trick-or-treating on Halloween.


People attending raves sometimes use glow sticks to enhance their experience. Glow sticks are often sold at concerts, children’s party venues and dance clubs. Some people use them to outline their parade floats, and night time entertainers may incorporate them into the show. According to the Denver district attorney’s office, some people who use Ecstasy, an illegal drug, use glow sticks to enhance the drug’s visual psychedelic effects.