How to make non-toxic glowing ice: fun science and Frozen sensory play for kids.
Remember the glowing water beads from last week? Well, it sparked an idea that I thought I would try out. I wondered if I could make glowing ice… and it totally worked!
This glowing ice is made from just one almost-magical ingredient. It’s non-toxic and actually edible (although most kids won’t like the taste), which makes it a great sensory play material for kids, because it is safe enough in case they decide to lick it, but the taste will discourage a second try.
If you did see the glowing water beads, then you already know what the magic ingredient is.
And it really does glow! Have a look below at the difference between regular ice and glow ice. Under a black (UV) light, the glow ice fluoresces from within.
How to you make glowing ice?
All you need is one almost-magical ingredient – tonic water. Or more specifically, tonic water that contains a small amount of quinine as one of the ingredients. (Most brands of tonic water contain quinine, so you should be able to find this at your local grocery store.
Quinine is highly fluorescent, even in low quantities. (It’s so consistently fluorescent that it is used in photochemistry as a ‘common fluorescence standard’.)
You’ll also need a black / ultraviolet (UV) light, because this is how you make it glow. What happens is, the quinine absorbs the ultraviolet (UV) light, which is invisible to the human eye, and then emits it back at a visible wavelength.
So invisible light goes into the glowing ice, and comes back out as visible light. Cool!
(I’m currently using this LED UV torch as my black light, but there are lots of different ones available to suit your budget, so have a look around. I really like the idea of the bar ones too…)
This is a fun science activity for young kids. You can introduce a bunch of new words to their vocabulary in a playful way. Words like liquid, solid, temperature, Celsius (or Fahrenheit), quinine, fluoresce, fluorescent, ultraviolet and awesome.
And of course, it is perfect for kids to play ‘Frozen’ and build an Elsa-worthy ice castle.
(In case you didn’t notice the sleeve of her dress, yes, JJ was wearing her Anna dress while she played. Of course! And who would have thought that Elsa’s outfit would be fluorescent too. Accidental bonus!)
(Please note: all kids activities on this blog require attentive adult supervision. Parents and carers will need to judge whether a particular activity is appropriate their child’s age and skill level. Please especially watch very young kids who are still in the mouthing phase with this activity. Even large pieces of ice can be a choking hazard, as kids can bite chunks off, and ice cubes change size as they melt.)
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