Updated December 2021
Header Image
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

38
Models
Considered
85
Consumers
Consulted
14
Hours
Researched
Category cover

Buying guide for best glow sticks

Even if you’re attending an all-day event, the real party starts when the lights go off. Whether you’re experiencing the dark ambiance of a nightclub or the veil of night on your patio, the mood and atmosphere change as soon as it’s dark. If you want to light your space up without detracting from the nocturnal vibes, consider some glow sticks.

Glow sticks light up and stay illuminated for 6 to 12 hours, so they’re great for evening events. While they’re generally associated with the party scene, glow sticks are also embraced by the military as well as campers and hikers. The long-lasting light of glow sticks helps illuminate paths and provides illumination without the need to build a fire. In fact, if you find yourself without power or needing to change a tire at night, a glow stick is a battery-free/hands-free solution to temporary lighting.

Content Image
If your child is afraid of the dark and has difficulty falling asleep in a dark room, use a glow stick at night to help with bedtime. The glow will gradually decrease and provide a little bit of comfort. You can keep the glow stick in a pillowcase to muffle the glow.

Key considerations

How do glow sticks work?

When it comes to glow sticks, it’s a matter of snap, crackle, and glow. To activate them, simply remove them from their packaging and bend them. There’s no need to fold them completely in half — you’ll find it only takes a small amount of bend to get them going. You’ll see the liquid within light up, and you can continue to gently bend and shake them to fill up the tubes.

Glow stick uses

  • Events: Glow sticks are used in the festival and rave scenes, and they’re a fun party accessory for home entertaining, weddings, and tailgate events. They’re not just toys, though — they keep areas lit up that may not be equipped with traditional lighting. It can be expensive to install outdoor solar lights, so glow sticks are an affordable temporary solution.

  • Survival and hobby: If you’re a hiker, camper, fisher, or hunter, you probably already have glow sticks in your backpack to illuminate your path or campsite for an extended amount of time. With multiple glow sticks, you can save your flashlight and batteries for when you really need them. In the event that you get stranded, you’ll have an ongoing source of light.

How long do glow sticks last?

The endurance of a glow stick can be measured in two ways: glow time and shelf life. Glow sticks stay lit up for six to 12 hours at a time. They gradually fade over that period, though they retain their full brightness for about 30% of their full glow time.

As far as shelf life goes, inexpensive glow sticks (like the ones in party sets) last up to one or two years. Other glow sticks, particularly six-inch styles that are used for outdoor activities like camping or fishing, have a shelf life of up to five years. For the products to say true to their advertised shelf life, it’s recommended that you store your glow sticks in a cool or climate-controlled area.

Features

Materials

Glow sticks are made of plastic tubes that encapsulate the liquid, which is sometimes contained in a smaller glass vial. The plastic and glass are generally the same for all glow sticks, though the formula of the liquid tends to differ. It’s usually a mixture of fluorescent dyes, hydrogen peroxide, and tert-butyl alcohol that, when mixed, produces a luminescence. Some glow sticks utilize phthalates; others avoid them to achieve a safer, non-toxic formula.

Colors

Glow sticks come in over a dozen colors, although the most popular colors remain green, yellow, and blue. The least common color is white. Some glow sticks, usually necklaces or other wearable styles, may have a color gradient.

Style

  • Six-inch sticks: Six-inch glow sticks are the stocky, traditional tubes usually seen in outdoor accessory kits or in the hands of ravers and festival-goers. These are the most versatile glow sticks due to their unique construction, as they are equipped with a hook or hole to secure on a rope. Ravers attach glow sticks to long strings and swing them for performances. Campers take advantage of their hooks to hang them inside tents or on carabiners on clothing and backpacks.

  • Necklace sticks: Necklace sticks are long, straw-like glow sticks. These are between eight and 22 inches in length and are packaged with flexible connectors to turn them into necklaces and bracelets. They can also be adapted into other wearable shapes, such as sunglasses and crowns, with unique connectors or headbands.

Glow stick set prices

Glow stick sets cost between $10 and $60; there’s a set available for every budget.

The least expensive sets, between $10 and $25, include sets of between 10 and 20 six-inch glow sticks. There are also some larger packs of necklace glow sticks that may include anywhere from 100 to 250 sticks.

Mid-range sets, which cost between $25 and $45, include larger counts. Some sets have LED accessories such as rings, wands, and swords.

At the high end of the range, between $45 and $60, are the mega-sets of glow sticks. Not only do these usually contain upward of 1,000 pieces, but they also tend to include the largest variety of solid and gradient colors.

Tips

  • Block time to crack them before a party. Crack your glow sticks at the same time, ideally with a few helpers, to make sure they retain their glow for the same amount of time.

  • Refrain from giving glow sticks to teething children. While many glow sticks are advertised as nontoxic, it’s still a good idea to keep them away from children who are teething to avoid accidental ingestion or injury.

  • Dispose of glow sticks in the garbage. Glow sticks contain chemicals, and the tubes cannot be reused, so they should go straight into the regular garbage and should not be recycled.

  • Keep glow sticks away from pets. Pets could confuse glow sticks for chew toys, so keep them out of reach.

  • Contact emergency services if ingested. If you or a child ingests a glow stick, its chemicals, or a connector, contact emergency services immediately to determine the best course of action.

  • Use glow sticks for tailgate parties. Tailgate events often last well into the night, and glow sticks are a fun addition to the party. Opt for team colors to celebrate your school or team spirit.

  • Avoid keeping them in pockets. Glow sticks can be bent and cracked, though excessive pressure could cause them to burst. If you keep them in your pocket, especially back pockets in pants, it could be enough force to rupture them.

  • Wash off glow stick liquid with soap and water. For the most part, it’s easy to get glow stick liquid off furniture, walls, and clothing with soap and water. You could always defer to the manufacturer as well, as they should be aware of what cleaning products are effective with their formula for the liquid.

Another product we considered

If you’re looking to get glow sticks for a large party, the Glow With Us Wholesale Bracelets set is a decent choice. You’ll get 100 glow bracelets, but if you prefer necklaces, simply link up a few sticks and use the connectors to make up to 30 glow necklaces. Not only do they glow for up to 12 hours, these glow sticks also have a long shelf life of one year. They’re uniquely packaged in a sturdy cardboard tube to avoid premature activation. This kit is also kid-friendly, as it’s nontoxic, nonflammable, and phthalate-free, as well as Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) compliant.

Content Image
Put glow sticks inside a balloon. Inflate a couple dozen for an all-around glow. It’s a fun, lightweight, and affordable party decoration.

FAQ

Q. Will I be able to see the glow sticks light up in daylight or indoors?

A. For the most part, no. At the very most, you’ll be able to see a faint glow that is barely noticeable. Glow sticks are designed to be used in dark environments, such as outside at night or inside dance clubs and other darkened rooms. Your best bet is to save your glow sticks for the right place where you can appreciate their colors and light.

Q. What is the purpose of keeping glow sticks in my car? I noticed some auto emergency kits include them, and I’m wondering if I should get some.

A. Glow sticks emit light for prolonged periods of time, and they cast a fairly decent area of glow, so they can be helpful in the event that you have car trouble or need to change a tire at night. Since they are completely hands-free light sources, you can work unencumbered, without having to hold a flashlight or your phone. You can save your phone’s battery and possibly use it to bring up a tutorial car repair video instead.

Q. Is it okay to get my glow sticks wet?

A. Yes. They’re covered with flexible plastic, so you can bring them into the pool with you. Some people drop them in mason jars filled with water for a lantern effect. Keep in mind this only applies to glow sticks; some LED rings and accessories that come with glow stick kits could have their electronic parts corrupted if they come into contact with water, so be sure to read all instructions and warnings.

Our Top Picks