I usually do my diligence before I go shopping to make sure I am getting the best value for my money. When my daughter told me show wanted a glow-in-the-dark party for her birthday, I knew that would mean forking over some money for black light bulbs. After some trial and error, I found out which lighting would give us the most bang for our buck. Since I love you guys, I thought I would pass along my findings so you can choose which lighting will work the best for you.
For your convenience, I found online sources for the types of lights I used for our glow party. These are all affiliate links, if you make a purchase (of anything on Amazon, not just these items) after clicking through, I will earn a small commission. Ads and affiliate links are the way I am able to keep this website running and to offer you free tutorials all year long. Thank you so much for supporting me and Mad in Crafts!
I set up my experiment in the darkest room in the house, so that natural light wouldn’t be a factor. The highlighter water in the vase reacts very intensely under blacklight. The pink dollar store slinky does react, but less strongly. I kept my camera at the same settings for each photo, and the black lights were positioned the same distance away from the items for each shot. Just for scientific control purposes, this photo was taken under standard fluorescent light bulbs.
First up was the $1 black light from Dollar Tree. They only carry these bulbs around Halloween, but you can find these incandescent black lights online year round.
Don’t buy these bulbs. Just take your dollar, throw it directly into the trash can, and save yourself some time. Honestly, these bulbs were such a disappointment. More expensive incandescent black light bulbs may work better, but the ones from Dollar Tree are garbage. I’m not even going to include a link for these bulbs because there’s no need for you to waste your money.
I had higher hopes for the CFL Spiral black light bulbs. I bought the Walmart store brand, but GE also makes a CFL Spiral if you aren’t a Walmart shopper.
Ah, that’s the stuff! The black light reactive products glow nicely under the light from the CFL bulb. The pros to this bulb are that A) they are relatively inexpensive and B) they can be used in standard light fixtures. The cons are that A) one bulb will not light a whole room and B) like other CFL bulbs, the light takes a few minutes to “warm up” before they reach full brightness.
The final contender is this 22″ fluorescent stand alone black light. Again, I found this light at Walmart, but they are also available online.
Look at that glow! Both the highlighter water and the slinky had tremendous reactions to this light. The pros of this light are that A) it is a standalone feature with its own cord and on/off switch and B) one light fills a 10×10 room reasonably well. The con is that it is the most expensive light of the bunch.
In the side by side comparison, you can see how the fluorescent lights blow the incandescent bulb out of the water. Whether you choose the spiral or long fluorescent bulbs really depends on your party and the size of the room you are looking to light up. For our party, I set the long fluorescent bulb at eye level against one wall, so that it would light up as much of the room as possible. I also changed the three standard bulbs in our dining room light fixture out for three CFL spiral black lights. This was plenty of black light to illuminate all the decorations for the party.
In the toy room, I opted for a multi-color light projector instead of black lights. I wanted one of these projectors for our exterior Christmas lights last year, but all my local stores were sold out by the time we put our lights up. I found this Disney projector at Lowes for $25, but you can find similar projectors (at similar price points) online. This projector easily cast moving multi-colored light around our 12×20 toy room, so it is a great choice for larger spaces.
Watch this video to see the black lights and the projector in action. If you aren’t already a subscriber to my YouTube channel, pop over for fun, creative videos twice a week!
Click the links below to find out more about this Glow Party:
GLOW PARTY DECORATIONS AND FAVORS
BLACKLIGHT HIGHLIGHTER HACKS