Glow sticks and chemical lights

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Source: Soldier's know the Stars
Chem light variety pack
Which light will help
you read a
topographical map?
Green or blue. These
provide the most
ambient light and allow
you to see the map.

How can you use a
chem light for trail
marking or signaling?

Light the way with green
or yellow.

Which chem light is
best for keeping a low
Red. It's great
for hiding.

Which color is best for
Red. A red
chem light doesn't draw
too much attention to
Glow sticks versus chem lights
Chemlight holder
Cyalume Military Graded Surface Trip Flare
Orange chemlight
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Above, a chemlight holder has the ability to focus the intensity of light or
to mask it entirely. A chem light holder can help you use a chem stick like
a flashlight, or direct the light for reading. You can also accomplish these
objectives with duct tape.

How Preppers Can Use a Chem Light
There's more to know about chem lights! Aside from the obvious
use of illumination and various uses of color, below are some
practical ways preppers can use a chemical light...

Nineteen reasons to have chem lights in your
survival kit:
  1. Acting as a flashlight when you don't have one. While
    the lighting isn't as focused as a tactical torch, a chem
    light provides enough "glow" to get from point A to point B,
    so you can find your way around in the dark when the
    lights go out. You can also slide the chem light back into
    the packaging after cracking it to help direct the light
    through the base. To provide directional lighting you can
    tape over one side (in this way the 360 light won't shine in
    your eyes and blind you for reading).
  2. Reading a topographical map on the journey. Do NOT
    choose red for this task.
  3. Keeping a low profile when you need some illumination.
    Choose red for this task.
  4. Trail marking to direct camp goers. Bright yellow is good
    for this purpose.
  5. Marking cordage. With a chemical light stick, you can  
    mark the end of a rope which might be critical to survival.
  6. Keeping a large group together. If everyone in the group
    has a chem light it helps avoid separation.
  7. Marking an area for roadside emergencies. While flare
    sticks are good for road emergencies, glow sticks can help
    mark car and people for other situations. It's also ideal for
    gas leaks and marking fallen objects.
  8. Perimeter marking. The military may use chemical sticks
    to indicate friendly perimeter zones.
  9. Avoiding tripping, slipping and falling. In camping,
    chemical light sticks can help you identify where the tent
    cord and stakes are located to avoid tripping. You might
    also indicate safe paths and thereby avoiding slippery or
    muddy areas.
  10. Making a water lantern. Inserting a chemical stick into a
    milk jug full of water or a Naglene water bottle will create
    a temporary reading lamp.
  11. Identifying a cleared room. Placing in a doorway, a chem
    light might indicate a cleared room to military personnel or
    first responders.
  12. Indicating "man overboard." When the Navy has a man
    overboard, they reach for a ChemLight to mark his or her
  13. Marking extraction position. When a downed Air Force
    pilot needs to mark his position for extraction, he trusts
    only military grade ChemLights.
  14. Lighting up under wet conditions. Lightsticks will work
    under wet conditions.
  15. Marking field debris. Chem lights can help mark field
    debris obstacles for nightfall after a disaster such as an
    earthquake, hurricane or tornado.
  16. Lighting for when there are undetectable gases. After
    an earthquake it may be safer to use chemlights or solar
    than to light up candles and kerosene lamps.
  17. Identifying unit or vehicle positions by color. The military
    may mark red as 1st platoon or green 2nd, for example.
  18. Entertaining children is another use of chemical lights.
    While they are entertaining, they also provide a safe light
    when compared to candle-light in an emergency for times
    when batteries die or when you are out of solar lighting.
    What's more, they are fun and provide a morale booster,
    which may be all you need to keep a child feeling safe and
    secure in an emergency.
  19. Signaling for help or providing directives. The clever
    prepper can use a light stick with paracord in military
    fashion to signal air traffic or to help first responders
    identify the distress location, or to give the "green light" to
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Above, Lauren of Brainstuff, shares the science behind fire flies, glow
sticks and chemlights, as well as neon signs.

What makes a real chemical light better than a glow stick?
Below is a partial list:

  • Duration and distance. A chemical grade light stick can
    last 8 to 12 hours and be seen a mile away with 360-
    degree illumination. You can't do that with a toy glow
    stick. This is perhaps the main distinction, but there are
    more reasons to choose a chem light over a glow stick.

  • Color. Glow sticks often include pink or orange in the mix,
    but not a true red and glow stick never come in white.
    Chemical sticks on the other hand come in white and many
    other colors. Red is ideal for creating a low level lighting
    which may be necessary when you want to avoid
    detection.  White is also an important color not found in
    glow sticks. A white chemical stick emits the brightest
    light, which is immensely useful as general illumination the
    way you'd use a flashlight Below you can learn the
    difference and know how to use the different colors.

  • Longer shelf life: Chem lights are more sturdy and won't
    break apart like the toy kinds. They also have a longer
    shelf life than what you get with the dollar store varieties.
    This is another important distinction. Chem lights with foil
    wrap can last four years! In short, you get what you pay for.

What's more, a chemical light stick is waterproof, non-
flammable, and non-sparking, which makes them useful in
hazardous situations where sparks or flame could cause an
explosion (
e.g., a break in gas mains after an earthquake).

Real chemical lights have value to the military, and therefore
they also have value to preppers! Chemical sticks offer a steady
light with out heat. They are ideal for marking, signaling and
illuminating, but there's so much more to know.

Below you'll find the value of chem lights and how to use them,
  • Which chem light will help you read a topographical map?
  • How can you use a chem light for trail marking?
  • Which chem light is best for keeping a low profile?
  • Which color is best for hunting?

How to use Chemical Light Colors
Think carefully of your situation, the application and desired
results when selecting the chemical lights you need. On chem
light color uses, here's what to know:

  • Red Chem Lights (up to 12 hours): Red is an important
    color in military terms. Red glow sticks, or chem lights,
    don't draw attention to your position ~ it's much harder for
    animals and humans to see! The illumination capabilities
    of the red chem lights are ideal if you want to hide. It's a
    dim light and it won't light up to give away your position if
    you're hiding from human predators, but if you want to
    keep animals away, don't use the red chemical light. Use
    something brighter to keep the night creatures away.

    Red is also not the best choice in colors if you're looking to
    illuminate a large area or if you're looking to read
    topographical maps. The red lines will be hard if not
    impossible to see on a topographical map. The red light
    will wash them away making them nearly impossible to

    Red has many purposes and should be on the top of the
    list of colors to get. Among the top reasons to choose red
    is to increase night vision. Red is  best for preserving your
    night vision for such tasks as hunting.

  • Green Chem Lights (up to 12 hours - can be seen a mile
    away). Green signifies "go" and is best used when you
    want to be seen at long distances. Green has a strong
    output that can be seen a mile away! Green is a better
    choice for helping to read topographical maps, than red,
    which as aforementioned is a bad choice. That's because
    green gives the most visible light.

    Green will give a strong light output and will generally last
    the longest of all the color choices.  The green SnapLight is
    so bright it can be seen from up to a mile away. On the
    other hand, green is not going to be good for roadside
    emergencies. Pick yellow or orange for that task.

  • Blue Chem Lights (up to 8 hours - strong output). Blue
    is not good for map reading, but it's another good choice
    when you need to illuminate up to a mile away! The
    downside is that the blue chem lights last up to 8 hours
    and not 12 as most of the others.

  • Yellow Chem Lights (up to 12 hours). When you want to
    really illuminate an area, and not hide, yellow is an ideal
    option. Generally, the yellow glow sticks will last longer
    than white. With yellow, you'll generally get 12 hours of
    use! Also, yellow can signify "caution" to motorists, making
    it an ideal color choice for roadside emergencies; however,
    if you need a high intensity light for roadside emergencies
    choose the "five-minute" orange chemlights.

    You can rest assured knowing that yellow chemical light
    will provide enough light for rooms, hallways, stairwells or
    your walk back to camp.

  • White Chem Lights (up to 8 hours). A military grade
    white chem light is a high light output for up to 8 hours at
    a time that's ideal to help get the job done when electric
    light isn’t an option. White is an intense light and best
    choice if you want to illuminate a large area. For whatever
    reason, the white lights usually have a shorter duration as
    they are more intense. The downside is that the white
    chem lights generally last only up to 8 hours and not 12 as
    most of the others.

  • Orange (high intensity - 5 minutes). One thing you'll
    notice about orange chemlights is that they have a five-
    minute duration. This is important! You see, the shorter
    the burn time, the more intense and brighter it glows!
    Orange chemical lights are different than all the others.
    They are for emergencies requiring a short and high-
    intensity light, such as for trip flares and signaling
    helicopters. While the other colors typically last 8-12
    hours, the orange chem light lasts just 5 minutes. While
    the other colors will have a four year shelf life, the orange
    has just a two-year shelf life. In short, they are formulated
    differently. They are intended to stay ultra bright for a
    short period of time. The highest intensity in the orange
    chem lights will be visible in the first five minutes. They do
    not die, but they rapidly decrease intensity after the first
    five minutes. This is with purpose as they are intended to
    provide a short target range of glow and then fade for
    tactical purposes.

    Used in combination with a trip flare kit, the orange
    chem lights are very effective for perimeter security.
    The Cyalume Military Graded Surface Trip Flare, pictured
    immediate right, is trusted by US Armed Forces, Special
    Operations Groups and SWAT teams to provide safe,
    effective intrusion alerts during nighttime tactical and
    training operations. Non-Flammable and Non-Toxic, this
    surface trip flare will not start a fire like pyrotechnic ones
    often do. The Cyalume Military Graded Surface Trip Flare
    comes with a black 100 foot trip wire which is much better
    than thread and mouse traps. It's useful as a deployed
    alert system for a prepper's bugout location.

NOTE: Be careful buying orange chemlights. Some have a 12-
hour duration and these are not the kind needed to signal
helicopters. Look closely at what you're buying. The ChemLights
for a trip flare have five minute intensity. These are the ones
that are powerful enough to signal air traffic if they have not
expired. They are specially formulated for five minute duration,
cost a little more and have only a two year shelf life.

Why use Cylalume ChemLight and not a Glow stick?
Cyalume ChemLight is the gold standard in chemical light
technology. Standard issue for U.S. military personnel around
the globe, these tactical-grade light sticks aren’t some child’s
toy you find at a party store. Each color has a specific purpose.
Use orange light

The light sticks have a hook and gate top which keeps the light
source secure whether you’re hanging, attaching or stringing
them together.

If you're looking for a chemlight which doesn't draw as much
attention to your position and is more difficult for animals and
humans to see, red is the preferred color. Use a Red chem light
when you need to illuminate up close and personal use for such
things as map reading. You can also use a red chem light when
marking a location without becoming a light house beacon. It
also does not attract as many - if any - night time animal and
insect visitors.
Glow Sticks vs. Chemical Lights
How to use Chemlights, Cyalume light sticks

A glow stick is not the same as a chemical light stick.
Don't play around with kiddie glowsticks in your emergency
supplies. Get the real deal: Chemlights, (brand name Cyalume
Snaplights). Chemlights have tactical, commercial and
recreational value, and are trusted by the military, law
enforcement and first responders.

Cyalume's chemlights are available in a variety of colors,
including visible and Infrared light versions for tracking, marking
and illuminating light in tactical and covert operations. You
won't find that in the dollar store variety. Learn how to use the
different colors and learn the uses of Chemlights.

Below is everything a prepper needs to know about Chemlights...

Chem Lights vs. Glow Sticks
Chemlights are not the same as light sticks, so don't kid around
with the kind you give your kid camping. Chemlights are longer
lasting than solar-power, and also can outlast crank-power,
shake-power and battery-power. They are so powerful that you
can use them as a field flashlight. Once you active them, you
can't turn them off so be sure to have a way to hide them if

Power up your
bugout bag, car and survival kits with chemical
lights, not glow sticks. Anyone who has spent time in the
military is familiar with chem lights, 12-hour military grade light
sticks. Don't be fooled by the dollar store variety. Military grade
chemical sticks can be seen a mile away and much more.

What are Chem lights used for?
The military uses chem lights for many things, but primarily
they're used for signaling, target marking,  and

Examples of military uses of chem lights include:
  • Perimeter protection or hazard warning
  • Helicopter landing zones markers.
  • Marking land mines for removal.
  • Rope end indicator.
  • Safety marking for concertina wire.
  • Indicating a cleared room.
  • Naval marking for "man overboard."

Real glow sticks are called "Chem Lights"...
The chemical reaction in Chemlights is much stronger than the
kiddie "glow sticks." Both glow sticks and ChemLights are
powered by chemiluminescence, which is a mix of compounds
that cause an emission of light not caused by heating. If you
want to know the science behind them, see Brainstuff video
below. Depending on the mix and quality you can get a chemical
reaction that may last a few hours to a half day!
Green Glowsticks
Happy endings...
Chem lights are longer lasting than solar-power, and also can
outlast crank-power, shake-power and battery-power! Don't toy
around, power up your survival kits with chem lights.

You may also enjoy these prepping articles...

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Above, a soldier waves a chem light affixed to a paracord in a pattern to
signal air traffic to go. The spinning technique is called a buzz saw! The
pattern above are chem lights fashioned to a buzz saw (picture a bola in
different lengths). In red or orange it might signal an extraction point.

The possibilities for use of a chem light are endless! Have your
duct tape handy to easily affix a chem light where you need it.

Finally, be sure to have some
mylar so you can wrap up your
lights. A disadvantage of a glow stick is that you can't turn
them off! If you're in a situation where you need to hide, then
having a way to conceal the lite is important.

So now you know the difference between chem lights and glow
sticks, what they are and how to use the different colors.
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