Glow in the dark paint – Store bought or make your own?

Glow in the dark paint and products are making a huge come back and with the imaginations of the world going crazy, there is inspiration around every corner.

Sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook have a limitless array of glow in the dark arts, crafts, and other creations that are so easy, anyone can give them a go. This has led to an increasing fascination with anything that glows, especially the phosphorescent kind!

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So what types of creations are we talking about? Well, pretty much anything – like….

Craft Painting
  • Paintings
  • Wall murals
  • Paving stones
  • Logo’s
  • Signs
  • Safety markings
  • Glow pots
  • Arts and crafts

The list is endless.

Caroline Deeble Painting

This super awesome painting was done by Caroline Deeble using Glowing Gecko’s glow in the dark powder to provide a subtle excitement to this image.


Keep in mind we are not talking about the glow sticks you find in a novelty store here. Nor are we referring to the glow paints that require a UV light to work. We are talking about phosphorescence. So what’s the difference?

Put extra, extra simply:

  • Products such as glow sticks contain chemicals that if removed from the protective plastic, can be harmful. The glow is produced by a chemical reaction and is relatively short lived. This is called chemiluminescence.
  • Fluorescence - materials that require a black light or ultraviolet light to glow and will only glow as long as the UV light is on it.
  • Phosphorescence – will glow after exposure to a light source. The glow can last from a few minutes up to around 12 hours, depending on the quality of phosphorescent product. Glowing Gecko powders are super high quality and will glow for up to 12 hours, night after night for around 15 years.
  • In both fluorescence and phosphorescence, no chemical reaction takes place.



Keep in mind that there are a lot of glow craft activities that use the chemicals inside products such as glow sticks and necklaces. Whilst they look super awesome, they are not super safe. These chemicals can sting and burn eyes, irritate and sting skin, and burn the mouth and throat if swallowed.


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There are two common glow in the dark (phosphorescent) elements on the market:

  • Zinc sulphide
  • Strontium aluminate


They sound technical but both are non-toxic. The difference is in the quality.

Glow in the Dark Paint

Lights on - Zinc Sulphide on the left. Strontium Aluminate on the right.



Strontium Aluminate

Lights off – an immediate noticeable difference in glow intensity.

Zinc Sulphide

After around 10 minutes there is no arguing – the strontium aluminate far outshines (hee hee) its competition.

Zinc Sulphide is what glow products of the 70’s were made from. The brightness was limited and the glow short lived.

Strontium aluminate is zinc sulphides successor. A much brighter and longer lasting glow in the dark powder, albeit a tad more expensive.

I’ve tried numerous store bought glow paints and they just don’t cut it. Not even close. This is because the majority of glow paints on the market use zinc sulphide as their glowing active ingredient.

Glow Powder

So the answer to the question we are posing here is…


Glow Powder - Strontium Aluminate

Using glow powder made from strontium aluminate, you simply choose the paint (or any medium for that matter) you want to use, mix the powder in and apply.


Apart from the quality of glow, the other benefits of making your own glow paint are:

  • Choose the paint type to match the application
  • Choose the strength of glow by adding more or less powder

Glow Paint

Things to keep in mind when making your own glow paint

  • No metal – do not let metal touch the glow powder. It will significantly affect the glow capacity of the powder.
  • Mix until you apply – glow powder will not ‘dissolve’ in the paint. It will be suspended within the medium. How fast the particles drop will depend on the thickness of the paint, but always give it a quick stir just prior to application
  • Couple of layers may be required – depending on the thickness of the paint you use, and the glow affect you are after, you may need to apply a few coats
  • Ratio – there isn’t a hard and fast rule for how much powder to use. Go with around 30%. Don’t do too much as it may affect the adhesive property of the paint.
  • Water or not water based – if you are going to use a water based paint, you’ll need to purchase an encapsulated glow powder
  • Particle size – fine less glow but less grit. Show image
Particle Size

Glowing Gecko is an Australian owned and operated business, supplying quality grade phosphorescent powder and glow in the dark paint products to anyone who also gets ‘excited by light’.


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