5 Proven Ways To Make Food Glow In The Dark
by Ann Mifsud
When we first started looking into glow in the dark food, we found some ideas which we thought were good for our son’s 12th birthday, only to discover that many of them did not work. So, we set about experimenting and debunking myths on the subject.
We wanted to get one very important question right…
What makes food glow in the dark when exposed to UV light?
Food items and liquids glow bright yellow under black light when a small amount of powdered vitamin B2 mixed with water is added to them. Tonic water turns liquids blue under UV light. Some food items, like white chocolate glow white when exposed to black light.
Through much trial and error, we also learnt that different hues can be achieved when normal food colorings are mixed with vitamin B2 and tonic water.
On top of that, we have managed to come up with tips and tricks to make party food and drink items that normally don’t glow under UV light, appear to shine in the dark.
Before going through the rest of the details…
If on the other hand, you want to know how to organize a glow in the dark party, here’s The Ultimate Kids Glow Party Guide: How To Create Magic.
The Ultimate Kids Glow Party Guide: How To Create Magic
A significant milestone in your kid’s life may be approaching, and you’re eager to leave a lasting impression on them and their friends. Undoubtedly, hosting a kids glow party to celebrate in style is the perfect choice!
Click any section below if you need to know how to make food and/or drinks glow under black light using:
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1. Making food glow in the dark using Vitamin B2
The active ingredient (riboflavin-5′-phosphate) present in vitamin B2 capsules give a bright yellow shine when exposed to ultra-violet light. Thus, when tiny amounts of vitamin B2 are added to foodstuffs one can bring a yellowish glow out of them.
Pro Tip: Do not confuse vitamin B2 with any other kind vitamin B. It is just the B2, otherwise known as Riboflavin, that glows under black light.
How do you make food glow in the dark using vitamin B2?
1. Grind 1 (100mg) tablet of vitamin B2.
2. Mix the powder with ¼ cup (60ml) water and stir well.
3. From this mixture, take 1 teaspoon at a time and blend it with the ingredients you want to glow in the dark.
Examples of food that glow using vitamin B2
A. Glowing cream cheese
Add 1 teaspoon of the vitamin B2 mix explained above to 3.5oz (100g) cream cheese and stir well. You can do the same with greek yogurt and mayo.
B. Neon butter icing
Add 2 teaspoon of the vitamin B2 mix above to 3.5oz (100g) butter and 7oz (200g) powdered (icing) sugar and whisk until all ingredients blend well.
C. Highlighter ice lollies
Add 2 teaspoons of the vitamin B2 mixture above per 1 cup (240ml) of clear soda (soft drink), stir, pour in ice-lolly molds and chill overnight in the freezer. (Note: the blue part was done with tonic water – see below.)
D. Glowing jello
Add 2 teaspoons of vitamin B2 mix to the normal hot water needed to dissolve the jello powder. Check here for full recipe how to get different hues.
Pro Tip 1: Vitamin B2 has a bitter taste. However, when small amounts are added to a main ingredient such as butter icing its taste is negligible. To counter balance the bitterness, you might want to add some sugar to ingredients which are not naturally sweet, such as mayonnaise.
Pro Tip 2: Stir the B2/water mixture every time before you take from it. Vitamin B2 powder tends to sink to the bottom of the container as time passes, so re-mixing it is crucial.
Is Vitamin B2 safe to use with party food?
Vitamin B2 is safe to use with party food. Here’s why.
Vitamin B2 plays an important role in many key functions in our body, such as maintaining good iron level in the blood and keeping our skin healthy.
The National Institute of Health recommends a daily allowance of 0.9mg for children and 1.3mg for adults.
Riboflavin is water soluble, which means that any excess of its intake will not be stored up in the body but is excreted. The same institute states that,
“Intakes of riboflavin from food that are many times the RDA have no observable toxicity, possibly because riboflavin’s solubility and capacity to be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract are limited.”
Besides, vitamin B2 has long been used as a food coloring. According to the Foods Standards Agency in the UK, it is designated with an E number (E101) for use as a food additive.
Our vitamin B2 recipe above makes use of very small amounts of Riboflavin. There’s only 4mg of vitamin B2 in every teaspoon. With just 1 (100mg) powdered tablet dissolved in ¼ cup (60ml) of water, you roughly get 25 teaspoons of mixture. One teaspoon of the mixture is enough to make 3.5oz (100g) of cream cheese glow in the dark. When dipping their cracker in the neon cheese dip, for example, your guests will be consuming an even smaller, practically insignificant, amount of vitamin B2.
2. Making food and drinks glow in the dark with tonic water
Quinine is the active ingredient in tonic water that when mixed to food items, especially liquids, gives them a bluish glow under black light. It is also responsible for the bitter taste in tonic water.
Examples how to make food and drinks glow using tonic water
A. Neon glow soda beverages
Mix 1 part tonic water with 1 part clear soft drink.
B. Shiny punch
Use tonic water instead of clear lemonade in the punch mix. Check the full recipe here.
C. Neon popsicles
Use tonic water and a bit of blue food coloring; then put in freezer. (Note: the yellow part was achieved with Vitamin B2 – see above.) Find the full recipe here.
Is tonic water safe to use for a neon party?
Tonic water is considered to be safe if consumed in small quantities. A 33oz (1 liter) bottle contains 83mg of quinine which is held to be a harmless amount.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, quinine in tonic water is not harmful, as long as it is presented in a measure of less than 83 parts per million (which is the exact amount found in a 33oz or 1 liter bottle of tonic water).
Additionally, as stated by our suggestions above, tonic water is only used in smaller parts together with other ingredients such as soda drinks. For example, in a 3.5oz (100ml) neon popsicle (as mentioned above) there are only 4mg of quinine.
Tonic water should, however, be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women, should these be accompanying your kids at the neon party. For more detailed information about quinine check here.
3. Making food glow in the dark using normal edible food coloring
You can add some normal edible food colors to Vitamin B2 mixture (as described above) and to tonic water, to obtain different hues that also glow in the dark.
Smear a toothpick in green food coloring, blend it with vitamin B2 mixture and you’ll get a bright green glow under black light.
Dissolve some red food coloring (the amount picked up when a toothpick is daubed in the color) and stir it into tonic water. You’ll get an orange glow.
You will also find fluorescent neon food colors on the market. Though many customers seem to be very happy with the end result, others complain of the fact that the ingredients used are not made public.
For this reason, should you decide to use these ready-bought colors, make sure that you only use tiny amounts.
4. Food items that glow in the dark within themselves
You may have come across several websites claiming that particular food glows under UV light. From our experience, over and over again, we have discovered that many of the food items mentioned, display a mere pale, dim, or at times even ugly reflection, when exposed to black light.
Edibles, such as bananas, ketchup, pasta, white bread and rice, show some “glow”. However, in our opinion, they are not presentable neon party food items on their own.
Having said that, we have come up with savory recipes that include the above ingredients. Check this out: 7 Exclusive Neon Party Savory Food Ideas.
Moreover, common party ingredients, such as white fondant, Greek yogurt and cream cheese, surprisingly as it may seem, do not exhibit any shine under black light. You would need to use techniques mentioned above to make these important party food elements glow in the dark. The popular idea that all whites glow under UV light is nothing but a myth.
The only food item that we found that it glows in black light without adding any ingredient to it, is white chocolate. It can be used in a lot of creative ways, such as, to cover food items, like marshmellows. The latter have turned out so wonderful for us!
5. Using tableware and party accessories to make food appear to shine under black light
Highlighter tableware, such as plates, cardboard boxes and straws, can make food items and drinks appear to glow in the dark. This is especially useful, when you don’t want to leave out certain food items at a neon party, such as fries and hot dogs.
For example, at our son’s neon birthday party, we served Glow Dogs on green highlighter plastic plates. We distributed fries and popcorn in highlighter boxes and cupcakes in neon wrappers.
Download our template of the highlighter boxes template below. Print the template on the back of highlighter cardstock or thick paper. Do not try to print the highlighter side with your home printer or photocopier. The ink in these machines does not reflect black light. If you buy these fluorescent sheets you can be sure that your boxes and wrappers will glow when exposed to UV light.
Furthermore, we put highlighter straws in glasses for soda drinks.
We also bumped into these 16oz glowing party cups, that glow even when they are not under black light. Their “secret” is that the rim of the cups is actually a glow stick which you need to crack, shake and insert at the top of the party cup.
The only downside to them is that these pricy cups are a one-time use. If you want to replace the glow sticks at the top of the cup for a second-time use, you will realize that normal 9” glow sticks won’t work because they are not long enough. You would actually need to buy 12” glow sticks from the same company that makes these cups. Nevertheless, they’re very cool stuff, if you want to try them.
Pro Tip: Beware that not all highlighter tableware items actually glow in the dark when exposed to black light. If you’re buying from your local store, we recommend taking a black light flashlight with you to check out whether they actually glow under UV light. The ones we bought online glow in the dark.
How can party accessories make food look as though it glows in the dark?
You can be as creative as you want in coming up with ideas to make food items appear as though they glow in the dark.
Glow sticks are usually used in neon glow parties either to decorate the venue or handed out to guests to use as luminous bracelets, for example. One super cool idea however, is to use glow sticks to wrap around cotton candy, instead of the customary wooden sticks. The effect is stunning!
Another idea to make food appear as though it glows, is a food display stand that has led lights all around. These stands are ideal as a food table centerpiece and can be used to display items like cupcakes.
Bottom line on how to make food glow in the dark…
Though serving glow in the dark food and beverages at a neon party is a must, it does not come without its challenges. Thanks to many hours of testing, we can proudly say that we have found ways to make highlighter food that really glows under UV light.
Our 5 proven ways to make food glow in the dark at a neon party will certainly help you understand which ingredients you should use and what tips you need to follow, so that you too will treat your guests with a mesmerizing experience.
It also debunks myths out there on which foods glow, so you save yourself the trouble and disappointment of finding it out yourself.
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Hi I'm Ann
Mom to three kids, I am the proud co-founder of Easy Kids' Parties. After a career in journalism and education, I diverted my skills to creating this website, with the aim of helping all those parents out there who wish to organize amazing and memorable parties for their kids but feel overwhelmed at the idea. Discover more...
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