The Best Black Light To Make Minerals Glow
Have you ever wondered what kind of black light is used to make minerals glow? Do they emit short wave or long wave UV light? If you have a mineral collection and you want to make it glow, you should be aware of which is the best kind of black light for minerals. Here’s a hint. Short wave ultraviolet light is the best black light for minerals.
What is Ultraviolet light?
Ultraviolet light is a type of electromagnetic radiation, just like radio waves, infrared, X-rays and gamma-rays. UV light is not visible to the human eye.
Electromagnetic radiation is transmitted in waves or particles at different wavelengths and frequencies called the electromagnetic spectrum. It’s on this spectrum that we find UV light, X-rays and gamma rays.
Ultraviolet light falls in the range of the electromagnetic spectrum between visible light and X-rays.
What is the difference between short wave UV light and long wave UV light?
Long wave Ultraviolet Light
Long wave UV lights have filters which screen out a lot of the visible light they produce, but not all. These filters are generally inexpensive to buy for that reason. Because of that, the black lights we use as hobbyists are a great way to produce long wave UV light. In nature, long wave UV light is present in sunlight and is not harmful to humans.
Short Wave Ultraviolet Light
There are two types of short wave UV light; filtered and unfiltered. As you can imagine, unfiltered UV lights allow a large amount of visible light through, rendering it useless for making many minerals glow. Too much visible light passes through and drowns out the “glow”.
Filtered short wave UV lights on the other hand, filter out almost all visible light, allowing only shortwave ultraviolet light to pass through. These filters can be somewhat expensive which is why high quality shortwave UV lights are so expensive when compared to unfiltered long wave UV lights.
Since most of the visible light is filtered, and only UV light is passing through, short wave ultraviolet lights are the best black lights for minerals.
Why Do Minerals Glow More Under Short Wave Ultraviolet Light?
All minerals have the ability to reflect light. As a matter of fact, that is how we humans are able to see the minerals. Whats interesting though is that some minerals have the unique ability to glow under black lights, or UV light. This special ability is called fluorescence.
When light shines, these special minerals temporarily absorb some of that light and then release, or reflect, a small amount of light that is of a different wavelength. It is this change in wavelength that creates the color of the mineral.
When these minerals are under short wave ultraviolet light, or short wave black light, which is invisible to us humans, the light that is reflected by the minerals is reflected as visible light. Not only is this light visible, it’s often times reflected as fluorescent light.
Will the Inexpensive Blacklight Flashlight I Bought Make Minerals Glow?
Unfortunately, the inexpensive UV LED flashlight you bought for $5 probably isn’t going to work very well with many minerals. As I mentioned earlier, the inexpensive LED black light lamps almost always emit long wave UV light. This means that a large amount of visible light is passing through the filter, which over powers, or drowns out the actual UV light.
There are some minerals, however, that will glow under long wave UV light, or long wave black light. Fluorite is probably the most common of these “long wave” fluorescent minerals. Fluorite contains so much fluorescence that it often times will glow under both short wave and long wave UV light.
Best Short Wave Ultraviolet Field Lamps For Minerals
The Best Portable Short Wave UV Lamps
One of the key tools for any serious mineral hobbyist to have is a portable shortwave UV light to use out in the field. When in comes to finding a good UV field lamp, there are several to choose from. All of which come with there own pros and cons.
The UVP 95-0158-04 Mini UV Lamp
The UVP Mini UV Lamp is currently the most affordable portable UV field lamp on Amazon. It is a basic, no frills field lamp. It’s small and lightweight size make it ideal for taking it along with you. The downside, however, is that it is only a 4 Watt UV lamp, which means you will need to be close to the minerals with the UV lamp to see them glow. This is not the best UV lamp if you simply want to walk around shining your UV light on the ground.
- 4 Watt
- Short wave Ultraviolet Light
- Small/ Lightweight
- 4 AA Battery powered
UVP 95-0188-02 Mini UV Lamp
This UVP Mini Portable UV Lamp is similar to the Mini UVP UV lamp mentioned above, but with one significant difference. This lamp can emit both short wave and long wave UV light. It is also a nice lightweight, compact portable UV light that is great for out in the field.
- Short wave and Long Wave UV functionality
- Favorite among frugal mineral hobbyists
UVP 95-0181-01 Portable Rechargeable UV Lamp
- Rechargeable and Portable
- Has two light tubes for increased UV intensity
- Can operate Longwave and Shortwave (254nm or 365nm) at the same time
- Rechargeable internal gel-based, lead-acid battery which can be charged for field operation from a standard wall outlet
- A 12V adapter is available for operating the lamp from a car cigarette lighter
UVP 95-0010-02 Model UVGL-48 Rechargeable Portable UV Lamp
- Split-tube longwave/shortwave combination
- Includes a sliding plate for selecting either the longwave or shortwave
- Distinctive wraparound lamp handle that comfortably balances the lamp in your hand
- Mini built-in flashlight is included. UV Lamp is operated by either standard or rechargeable 6-volt batteries
- UV source-Split tube 254/365nm
UVP 95-0007-06 Model UVGL-58 Handheld 6 Watt UV Lamp
- These lamps are lightweight for easy handling
- Durable plastic housing
- Combination shortwave/longwave UV light version
- Comes with a snap-on wavelength selector for switching between wavelengths
Long Wave Ultraviolet Flashlights
When it comes to long wave UV lights, the selection is huge and the cost is minimal. That is the nice part of using long wave lights. The downside, as I mentioned earlier, is that we don’t get the glow from our minerals that we would by using short wave UV lights. With that said, these long wave UV flashlights are a great way for mineral hobbyists to become exposed to the world of black lights at a fraction of the cost. For the most part, long wave UV flashlights will run around $5 and up.
Escolite 395 nM 51 UV Ultraviolet LED flashlight
The reason I like this black light flashlight is because, even thought its not a shortwave UV LED, it still pumps out a lot of UV light. Not very many minerals will fluoresce under this light, but it still has use if looking for minerals that do glow under a long wave black light. Besides using for minerals, its a fun, and inexpensive light to use around the house. It’s great for looking for scorpions, pet stains or other creatures that fluoresce under black lights.
- Long wave UV LED black light only
- 3 AA batteries
If you’re looking to learn more about long wave UV light flashlights, check you my guide on these fun and inexpensive black light flashlights on my post, The Ultimate Guide To Black Light Flashlights: Plus 7 Reasons To Own One.
Minerals That Glow Under Ultraviolet Light
The following text is from http://sciencing.com. Please visit them for more information.
A popular, collectible mineral, scheelite glows blue under short wave ultraviolet light.
Flourite usually fluoresces blue, but many specimens emit various colors, including yellow, red, white, green and red. A few specimens simultaneously produce different colors when viewed under long wave and short wave UV light, while a number of fluorite specimens’ phosphorescence (glow without a visible light source) in a third color.
Commonly found in short to long crystals, scapolite emits orange or yellow color and on rare occasions will emit red under black light. As an attractive gemstone, scapolite’s colors vary from yellow or orange to pink or violet.
Nearly all willemite ore glows bright green under black light. A few will phosphorescence. This rare mineral is one of the finest specimens of fluorescent material.
Not all calcite minerals are florescent, though some specimens glow red, yellow, pink or blue under UV light.
Credit to http://sciencing.com for the above information.
Do you use a UV light to show off your minerals? If so, what black light do you recommend? Please feel free to leave a comment below! We always love to hear from other Rock Seekers. And subscribe if you would like to receive updates and new posts sent to your inbox.