FYI Magazine

Black lights can enhance Halloween décor

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Creating a spooky atmosphere when decorating for Halloween is the ultimate goal. People will go to great lengths to establish film-worthy special effects and ghoulish details. Using black lights when decorating can cast an ominous glow and establish the desired atmosphere.
 
Black lights are a common fixture at amusement parks, museums and also Halloween displays. The bulbs look just like any other fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, but they are dark in color. When turned on, the lights will give off a purplish hue. In addition to this violet shade, the black light also is producing ultraviolet light, which cannot be seen by the naked eye.
 
Black lights that produce UV-A light are used to observe fluorescence, or the colored glow many substances emit when exposed to UV light. Black lights can detect specialized stamps at amusement parks that are invisible unless viewed under UV light. Law enforcement may use black lights to detect traces of blood, urine and other genetic material at a crime scene. Scientists may study minerals or sea life under black lights to witness their fluorescence. Other black lights that do not have as dark a filter coating on the bulbs are used in insect bug zappers.
 
What a person sees glowing under a black light are called phosphors. A phosphor is any substance that emits visible light in response to some sort of radiation. A phosphor converts the energy in the UV radiation from a black light into visible light. Phosphors are used in specialized black light posters and inks. Phosphors also are found in laundry detergents to help white clothing glow even brighter, which is why a white T-shirt or socks will glow unusually bright under black lights.
 
It can be interesting to experiment with black lights when decorating for Halloween. Some Halloween items are designed specifically to glow under UV light. Encourage party participants to wear white clothing or accessories or specialized phosphor-containing stamps so they will glow under black lights.
 
Note that black lights emit very little UV radiation. Therefore, they're safe to view with the naked eye and will not cause the kind of damage to the skin often associated with UV exposure.
 
Many natural and manmade items contain phosphors. These can be interesting to include in black light decorating. The following are items that contain phosphors:
Black lights can illuminate anything that glows to create eerie or entertaining environments for Halloween decor.