What is Glow-In-The-Dark Paint?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2019
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Glow-in-the-dark paint is paint which has phosphorescent properties, meaning that it will glow in the dark. The strength, color, and duration of the glow vary, depending on the materials used in the paint. Historically, these paints were made with radioactive elements which actually posed some health risks. Today, nontoxic materials are used so that such paints are safe for use.

The way in which glow-in-the-dark paint works is rather interesting. When this paint is exposed to visible light, it absorbs photons. These photons are later released, creating a distinctive phosphorescent glow. The ability to absorb and later emit photons is known as photoluminescence. This property can be seen in nature and in a number of manufactured products, and people often find it very intriguing.

This paint product is often a greenish to white color, because of the materials used to make it. However, it can be tinted with colored pigments. The problem with colored glow-in-the-dark paint is that it tends to be less bright, because the pigments dull the glow, and it may not last as long as conventional paint. However, it can create some very interesting visual effects.


An acrylic base is commonly used for glow-in-the-dark paint, and the paint tends to be a bit thick and can be chunky, making it difficult to apply. It is also possible to purchase powders which can be blended into paints and bases to create glow-in-the-dark products as needed. This paint can be used with stencils to create patterns or writing which will glow in the dark, and it can also be applied by hand.

There are a number of uses for glow-in-the-dark paint. It can be used as a craft material to decorate walls or objects, and it can also be used as a safety paint. Sharp edges, elevation changes, and other hazards can be identified with glow-in-the-dark paint so that they will be visible even when a room is dark. In this case, the paint is usually formulated to be very long lasting so that the glow will not fade minutes after darkness falls.

Many craft stores carry glow-in-the-dark paint, in a variety of formulations and styles. It can also be ordered from manufacturers, as can powders and raw pigments which can be used to create custom blends as desired. People should remember to wear face protection when mixing powders to avoid accidental inhalation, which could irritate the lungs.


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Post 7

Yes, Jacques6, luminescent paint can become a good replacement for a night light. I buy glow paint too. I painted my car with it and I like the result very much. -- Robert

Post 6

Glow in the dark paint is very curious. I'd like to paint my car with a customized design. I have the pigment with me, but I need to know with what medium should to mix it and which will make the glow stay longer like more than six hours.

Post 4

@tanner182 - I used glow in the dark paint on clothing too – only it was for my dog. I work all day, so I usually take my dog for walks in the early morning and late at night – but the worst part is that there aren't very many street lights.

My dog is a black miniature dachshund and I've tripped over her several times in the dark. For a little dog like that, it's dangerous to be unseen.

Okay, I usually don't dress up my dog – but she's so tiny, she starts shaking if we go out for a walk at night.

I bought her a plain little black dog blanket to keep her warm – and then I painted a big glow in butterfly on the top of it. Now I can find her in the dark and I won't trip over her.

Post 3

@Jacques6 – Painting your keys is clever – I never would have thought of that. The only thing I have used glow in the dark paint for is for painting t-shirts. I was out shopping and I found glow in the dark t-shirts. I thought they were awesome, but they were all for rock bands and skulls – which is not really my thing.

So I bought a bunch of plain t-shirts, glow in the dark spray paint and then I went stencil hunting. I went to the hardware store and got a few stencils for roses and vines – then I went to a craft store and got a stencil for a dragon.

I pinned the t-shirt down on some

card board so it didn't have a chance of wrinkling and stenciled the motifs onto it. I ended up with a unique design that way and I have enough paint to make a lot more if I feel like it. All my friends ask me where I go it and they're amazed that I made it.
Post 2

@Jacques6 - Glow in the dark paint sounds like it's not just for kids anymore. The spray glow in the dark paint is useful -- it fixed a Halloween dilemma for me.

My whole street is into Halloween and last year we all wanted to do a creepier design. We used a bunch of spooky stuff for the bushes and the porches -- but with lights going up my stairs rails, it was too bright. It made the decorations look fake.

So instead of taking the lights off entirely -- I spray painted my stairs in a light coat of glow in the dark paint. It made an amazing creepy atmosphere and nobody fell. I painted over it but it still has a little bit of a glow to it.

Post 1

Glow in the dark paint is great -- I found out about it a year ago when my son wanted some for painting. I got him some of the glow in the dark acrylic paint and I bought myself a can of glow in the dark spray paint. I wasn't really sure what i was going to use it for when I bought it, but I'm glad I bought it.

I go out a lot at night and I've lost my keys more than once. So I spray painted them lightly with glow in the dark paint. I haven't lost them since, but I got another idea.

I used my son's stencil set (he likes dinosaurs) and added a

glow in the dark t-rex to the side of my wallet. That way, I can find it in the dark too.

My son has added so many glow in the dark decorations in his room now, he has decided he doesn't need a night light anymore.

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