Making Glow Jars

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Yesterday Sydney and I had a major art and craft day, and also experimented with making glow jars. They have been floating around Pinterest for awhile now and look like so much fun! However, there is one tutorial that frustrates me. The image is clearly Photoshopped, and I think it’s very misleading. So, I decided to make a couple of our own jars so we can share our experience and method with you. I must admit, frustration aside, I was intrigued with the photoshopped glow jar image, it’s actually called fairies in a jar, and I wanted to try and replicate the glowing ‘fairies’ that appear to be suspended in mid-air. To do this, I used a piece of tulle. Here is my tutorial, please note that I used red netting for tutorial reasons only (it photographs better than thin white tulle):

You will need a glass jar, glow sticks (I picked some up from the dollar store), rubber gloves to protect your hands, scissors, I recommend protective eyewear, and a piece of tulle (optional).

If you are using the tulle, cut a piece slightly larger than the jar, and place inside.

Now, put on those rubber gloves. Crack the glow stick to active the glow material. Insert the end of the glow stick into the jar and cut the tip. It’s important to do this step with the glow stick in the jar as to avoid splashing, remember that you are working with chemicals. There is also a glass vile inside the plastic tube, and that glass breaks when you crack the stick. So best to keep all the tiny glass bits contained within your jar!

Next, stir and shake the cut glow stick around inside your jar. You will need some patience for this part, as it doesn’t just flow out easily. In some instances, the glow material may get clogged due to a large piece of glass that didn’t break. I disposed of these sticks and used a new one, for safety reasons.

Once you have the desired amount of glow material in your jar, replace the lid and shake it up. I used about 3 bracelet size sticks per jar.

Here are all three jars we made. The first one on the left is just glow stick material by itself. The middle jar uses a piece of white tulle. And the last jar is the one I made for tutorial purposes only.

Now turn off the lights and watch them glow! Here is the first jar:

And here is the jar with the white tulle. As you can see it looks a little more like that Photoshopped fairy jar, there are glowing specks that appear to be floating and suspended in mid-air.

All in all it was a fun project. Sydney couldn’t help make the jars, but she sure had fun watching them glow in the dark!

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163 thoughts on “Making Glow Jars

  1. Pingback: Glow jars | Things to do with your kids (.com)

  2. an alternative is to,have black paper with small holes in it all over . glue colored cellophane over the holes randomly … then put 1 or 2 electric/battery tea lights in that flicker. it will look like the fairies have varying amount of twinkle.

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  4. Pingback: DIY Glowing Fairies in a Jar

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      • Considering glow sticks run on a reaction that lasts only a few hours, it’s understandable that the fairy effect in the jars would also not last very long. If you want a slightly more permanent effect, try using glow in the dark paint or some other material that would glow for longer.

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  8. i dont know if this was mentioned, but i would presume, like glow sticks you can freeze the jars and they will keep the glow amount (or a little darker) from when they were frozen .

  9. I have tried this and now I am waiting to see what happens. I did not use the tulle. We are planning on using this for our children’s Christmas party at the American legion. Is the something else you can use besides the tulle??

  10. Pingback: Le blog de Lily » [DIY] Glowing jars

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  12. THANK YOU!!! We tried the “fairies in a jar” & it was the WORST tut. ever. And I came to the same conclusion that it was Photoshop. The girls were upset, but now I can redeem myself. thank you so much!!!!!

    • No, they don’t keep glowing. I heard that to get a jar that keeps glowing, you need to go and buy some decent glow paint from a nearby craft store or something. Have yet to try it myself, but the glow doesn’t last from the sticks.

  13. Pingback: How To Make Glow Jars Kids Will Love — Homestead and Survival

  14. Hai, my name is Emma, I tried this tutorial (well..another, but similair) and I’d cut my glowstick above the glass-tube, so the plastic one fell off.
    And I gently broke the glass tube, but I had to really shake and wait wait wait untill there was a little bit glowing fluid on the bottom of the jar.
    When I started shaking it again, it glowed a little more, so it was still cool, but not at all like the (photoshopped?) things I see online.
    Did you only use one glowstick, like me? Or a few?
    And is it supposed to take long, I expected it to be pour-able..but this was like some sortof almost-dried-glue.

    Greetings from Holland!

    - Emma

    • The problem of slowly moving fluid is capillary action. To fix this problem cut one end off then flip the tube over (with the clipped end inside the jar) and clip the other end (now the top) off so that it will flow freely. I did this and the fluid came right out.

      • Actually glow stick juice is non-toxic and does NOT burn you.
        Yes it’s a chemical reaction but not one that produces heat…. Get your science right

  15. You can get glow powder and add to a clear coat then splatter the tulle and put inside the jar. Will last. Just recharge the glow with light.

  16. Pingback: 5 Ways to Have Fun with Glow Sticks

  17. For the red tulle one…say you emptied the glow sticks into a bowl and then dipped the tulle in it so it would pick up more of the liquid, I wonder if it would look more like the “photoshopped” example…

  18. Pingback: Fairies In A Jar | A Pinterest Primer

    • vandana if u are in India u can find these glowsticks in mumbai for 10 rs per piece near cst railway station at a shop called party shop in crawford market

  19. Love this idea, yet unable to find an answer to a question. After cracking open the glow sticks and emptying the liquid into the jar, do you remove the empty, broken pieces? Thank you!!!

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  21. Do these glow jars or faires last forever because a glow stick only glows for about one night and that’s the night when you crack it so I was wondering how long it lasts cause I don’t want to have to replace it over and over again

  22. Sorry I know you’ve been asked this question a ton of times and I did read through the comments but was left unclear. I want to make the glow jars the night before, without needed to use glow paint or a black light. Can I use your technique and then leavr the jars in the freezer? Would they be able to use the next night?

    • Hi Lizzie, I have yet to try leaving the jars in the freezer. In theory it may work, however I can’t say for sure since I haven’t don it myself. If I hear of anyone who has tried it out I’ll be sure to let you know!

  23. I filled the jars with plastic gems you can purchase at the craft store and then added the glow stick to them. You can add a glow stick each night to reuse the jars as long as you keep the jar lid on securely tight.

  24. You can use non toxic highlighter pens in your desired colour to make coloured water to add character to your functions or at home. While they don’t look as effective they do add a nice touch and safer with kids around. You will require a black light though. I understand they can also be used for making cocktails but apparently don’t taste very good so add lots alcohol :)

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    • you can buy glow paint at any craft store, michael’s, joann’s, hobby lobby etc….martha stewart has a line of paint through plaid enterprises that make bigger jars of glow paint too. hopw that helps! oh, they also carry glow hot glue sticks and polymer clay that glows!

    • DO NOT USE GLOW PAINT…you will be disappointed. They do not really glow even though they are set in the sun and the result does not look like fairies in the least…just look like blobs of paint smeared around the jar!

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    • You can control the color by just using glow sticks in your desired colors. Just keep in mind that they don’t last more than a few hours in the dark, if you’re using a black light then they last much longer.

  28. Hi there!

    Has anyone tried this with laundry detergent and a black light? When my friend was in college I painted pictures with Tide on his walls, and it fluoresces when you shine a black light on it! If you try this with your jars, it can be used over and over, altho it doesn’t just glow on it’s own.

    I can’t caution enough to WEAR GOGGLES when breaking open those glow sticks! When I was little I broke open a glow stick to see if it would glow on my fingers, and in the process of cutting the stick open, it squirted in my eye. I couldn’t see out of it for hours and it was absolutely excruciating! So yeah. Goggles might look silly, but…

  29. For using the glow paint, maybe you could pick up some paint in the straw end that goes in the jar, and while turning the jar, blow gently through the straw? I would do one color at a time, and wait for it to dry before starting the next color. You could probably use an airbrush tool, if you have one. Or get a bubble blowing wand, and blow the bubbles into the jar with paint on them, maybe using the glowy paint and mixing it with the soap (use very little just enough to make bubbles!). Meanwhile, have fun, these are cute!

    • I have no idea what would happen. Apparently they are not flammable, but I would NOT recommend trying it. It sounds a little dangerous…. now, if some company made a black light version of those little led candles, that would be cool in the jar!

  30. Pingback: How To Make Glow Jars With Floating Colors - Plant Care Today

    • You know they only glow for a few hours, but if you use a black light they’ll last longer, and if you read through the comments you’ll find some great ideas from my readers on how to make glow jars that last much longer!

  31. Hi,

    This was really a nice idea… i am going to make my child do the same… i am sure she is going to love it… Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful thing.

    Good luck with your future work.

    Dhruti Sanghavi

    • They are more of a one time thing, but if you read some of the comments you’ll find some great ideas from my readers on different ways to make them last longer!

  32. Hi,
    So came across this post a little while back and I read some of the first comments and it gave me a great idea, instead of using glow sticks, or glow in the dark paint, I used glow in the dark glitter glue, it dried clear with a little of glitter shimmering in there. So it looks like the only thing in there is a piece of tulle. I will be sending these jars to my nieces (all 4 of them) as a little spring surprise. The only thing they have to do is take it outside or put it under a light to charge them and they will glow. I hope this gives someone a better idea on how to make these elusive fairies stay just a little longer. :-)

  33. we have 4 girls and used some old baby food jars that we still had. that way each girl could have her own jar and pick her own colors. they had great fun making them and each choose a different color glow stick. we stuck em’ in the freezer and they plan on using them as night lights tonight

  34. I’m thinking about trying this out with glow paint….how about spreading out some tulle, paint splatter or paint dots, bunch up the tulle and put in the jar? I’m brainstorming…

    • I think that sounds like a great idea, then you could even add dots of the glow paint to the inside walls of the jar as well! I’m sure the jars would last much longer!

      • Tina, thank you so much for sharing your experience with the glow paint. I appreciate it, and I’m sure my readers do as well! I hope you’ll give it a try again with the glow sticks!

        • I’ve heard that glow in the dark glue works better than the paint, that it charges up again well. I think that’s what we’ll try. I’m excited! I’ve been collecting interesting jars for over a month, from stuff like capers, jams and preserves, spreads, and sauces, and I think I’ll pull out a couple of old baby food jars, too! They’ll make great gifts!

  35. I am way behind on this. Love the fairies. I was inspired by the glow in the dark paint though. I wonder about spatter painting the tulle with the glow in the dark paint using a tooth brush. Then putting the tulle into the jar. Just might work.

  36. Hi, your glow jars are great. One thing I would like to add– please add some glue to the lids so that little fingers can not open the jars. Also has anyone ever used plastic jars?

    • Adding glue to keep the lids secure is a great idea! Thanks for sharing! I have never used plastic containers for this, so I’d imagine they’d work but I’m not sure!

  37. I was wondering if after you put the glow material in the jars if you add water or anything else to the jar to make the glow material come up higher ( kinda like a lava lamp). Please let me know as soon as possible.

    • When you shake the glow sticks into the jars, the glow material splatters around all over the sides from top to bottom. The piece of tulle I put inside also caught the glowing drops, creating the floating ‘fairies’ look.
      I did not try adding water, so I am not sure if the glow material would float around in the water or not. If you do try that method, I would love to hear whether or not it works!

      Thanks for stopping by my blog, and have a great week!

      • We tried this tonight without the tulle. We also tried adding water to make more liquid. NOT a good idea. The water separates from the glow and puts out its light. I also tried adding oil to see what will happen. There oil really separated everything and just globbed around the center but the glow light also went out immediately.

        • Thanks for sharing your experiences exploring the glow jars! It’s always great to hear what works and what doesn’t! Another reader had a good idea to use glow paint and splatter it onto the tulle. I think that sounds like it would work out well, I may try it out soon and I’ll update my post when I do!

  38. I love this idea I’ll be passing on your page to all my friends and see if they will try it . I will in the spring time for sure …

  39. Hi!

    Thank you for this detailed tutorial – I was trying to tell a friend how to make them but without a tutorial she became very confused!

    To everyone wondering if you can reuse the jars – if you freeze the used jars they will glow again the next night – it works for the sticks so I guess it would work for the jars.

    • Hi Zairy,

      Tulle is a lightweight, fine netting that you can purchase at fabric stores. Drops of the glow stick material stick the the tulle, giving the illusion of floating glowing fairies within the jars.

      I hope that helps, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

        • You can pick up glow sticks from several different kinds of stores, I have seen them at our Target and Dollar Tree. And if you don’t have any luck locally, you can always check online. Good luck!

          • Of course it looks nice, and I don´t really like to bring down the jolly mood, but for Pete´s sake we need to be more ecologically responsible when we do stuff with our kids. The Glow sticks are just plastic crap, which end polluting the planet after a short entertainment, and the stuff inside is toxic and abrasive. There are so man other more safer and greener things to do with kids!!

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  43. Could you put some polymer crystals in the jar with the glow stick material and the glitter and then shake it up and then add water to hydrate the polymer crystals and make a gel filled jar?

  44. Dear Shaleah,
    Thank you soo much for this link, I absolutely love your glow in the dark jars. :) (especially the second one on the first photo) I didn’t use the same technique, but it’s very interesting, and obviously look much like jellyfish. :)
    Can’t wait to see more of your ideas!

    Luca Gerda László (Bucikah on deviantart)

  45. I saw that some one had asked if the jars are reusiable. I thought I would sujest a black light. I find that even spent glow sticks will gain a new life as long as its near a black light. A good way I think to make these jarslast for a long while as say for a night light for a little kids room or just night time decor is to get some wood make a simple 3 sided bow that will fit over the blacklight of your choice. Make sure that the top pf your box has hole(s) that are slightly smaller than the jar(s) that you are useing and then there you so. set the jar on top let the light shine though the bottom of the glass and the jars can be used over and over for as long as you would like. Just a simple suggestion to continuously show off your good work. :)

    • Hi Decanna,

      Thank you so much for your suggestion. A black light is a great idea, and it would definitely extend the life of the glow jars, and they would last much longer!

      Thanks for stopping by the blog, be sure to visit again soon!

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    • Thanks, I’m glad you liked it! I would imagine the glowing paint would make the jars reusable, and they’d last for a good amount of time. But when you have little ones, sometimes you just don’t have the time for a time-consuming project. I know I usually don’t!

      Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  48. I love the tule idea! I’ve seen a tutorial where they used the tulep fabric paints to achieve this as well. But I’m definitely liking the “suspended fairies” thanks for sharing!

  49. If you want it to last overnight when is the best time to do this project? Should I start it maybe around sunset or will it last if I do it during the day?

    • No glitter used! I figured the glitter would end up just sticking to the sides of the jars, and I was trying to create the illusion of floating fairies, suspended in the center of the jar. The tulle helped me achieve this!

      • We did use glitter in our jars but as Shaleah said, the glitter, especially if too much is used will stick to the side of the jar. If you use too much of the glitter it will soak up the glow and it will go out. The less glitter the better.

  50. Thanks for a real tutorial. I’ve seen this idea on Pinterest so many times, with the original Photoshop image (which only linked to a Flickr page when it first appeared)…Nice to see someone posting something more real.

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  52. Just as an FYI, while there are chemicals in glow sticks, they are entirely non-toxic (not that I recommend eating them or anything!). The tiny glass shards are something to be careful of, but when comparing the two, it’s the glass to worry about, and not what’s inside the glow sticks. Great project idea, thanks!

    • Hi Linda,

      These lasted a few hours for us, which ended up being the perfect amount of time. Sometimes we preserve our glow sticks by putting them in the freezer, I haven’t tried this with the glow jars but that may be a way to save them for use again later. As far as reusing the jars, I wouldn’t recommend that. With the tiny pieces of glass and chemicals in the jar, I think it’s best to just get rid of them.

      Thanks for following!


      • Hi Shaleah,
        Can’t wait to try these, they look fantastic and my 3 fairy princesses will LOVE them. Just wondering how far ahead they can be made ie in the morning, or the day before; or only just before dark time?

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    • Hi Jeanne,
      Thanks for sharing. I have seen that method before, and it’s a great one, we plan to try it soon. The paints were a little pricey, but I come up with a couple other projects we can use them on I’ll order some. Let me know if you find a good deal on the glow paints.
      The jars we made are a fun afternoon experiment, and they only cost $1 (we found glow sticks at the dollar store).

      Good luck with your jars, I’d love to see how they turn out!

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