Aug 02

DIY: Glow-in-the-Dark* Paint

by Hannah Holt »


This paint glows under black light.* With only two ingredients, it’s completely non-toxic (you could eat it), and it will brighten any black light party.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup tonic water
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

1) Pour the tonic water into a small bowl and let it rest until it loses its fizzy.

2) Stir the two ingredients together.

3) Using paint brushes, decorate colored construction paper, skin, or other non-phosphorescent surfaces. (Most white papers won’t work because they also glow under black light. I used black construction paper.)

While working on my Spicy Alphabet book, I learned that tonic water glows under black light. I have a black light at home (who doesn’t?), so I tested it out.

It turns out tonic water ice cubes also glow under black light:

As does boiling tonic water:

Here’s the paint applied to my face:

When working on this post, I first tried adding tonic water to a variety of paints. None of them worked. The pigments in the dyes seemed to block tonic water’s glow. Finally my husband and I walked around our kitchen waving the black light over all the foods in our pantry. Cornstarch had the best luminescence, hence this recipe. We tried a few different ratios. The one-to-one ratio had a good consistency.

Most of my projects involve a lot of trial and error. Here’s a video I shared on my Facebook Page a while ago (from my Summer Science series):

What can I say? I like to play!

Happy painting!

  1. Kirsten

    What fun! I’m filing this one away for a rainy day (or a blazing hot day, whichever comes first). Thanks Hannah!

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks, Kirsten.

  2. Tara Oliver

    Ha ha, I love that video. I watched it with Ashleigh once four or five times because she kept asking for it. Hannah, you are so creative! Love this recipe, and your face painted with it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hannah Holt

      I’m so glad Ashleigh enjoys the video. Give her a kiss from me.

  3. Evelyn

    This is so awesome! My favorite parts are that you have a black light (is that from your earlier days of going to raves?), and that you guys went around your kitchen with a black light looking for paint base. I’m lucky I get to come over and see your laboratory. You better do a peanut butter play dough post next, because that was a BIG hit!

    • Hannah Holt

      I can put peanut butter play dough on the menu. :)

  4. Melissa French, The More With Less Mom

    Thanks for sharing! I linked to this post in my Glow Party series.