How to Make Safe Glow in the Dark Paint for Children

Surprise your youngster with a brand new painting activity that will keep her entertained on a rainy afternoon and provide her with an extra surprise when the sun goes down. You can use painting paper and paintbrushes to make a luminous work of art to hang on the fridge, or stick some stencils up on your child's bedroom wall and let her create a few artful decals that come to life at night. Ordinary paints will never seem quite so exciting again.

Cover your work surface with newspaper to keep it safe from accidental spills and measure the ingredients for the paint in separate containers. Start with approximately 1 part luminous zinc sulfide in a medium-size mixing bowl to 5 parts non-toxic tempera paint in any container large enough to hold the paint. Acrylic paint mixes well with the luminous powder, but it is not recommended for use by children, according to the Washington Toxics Coalition. The tempera paint will not provide quite the same luminous results, but it is a safer art supply for youngsters.

Pour the paint slowly into the container with the luminous zinc sulfide and stir thoroughly to combine the two ingredients. The powder will not dissolve in the paint; rather, its particles will become suspended in the medium. Do not pour the powder into the paint. As you pour the paint into the powder, you can stop when the mixture reaches your desired luminosity 1.

Use a black light to monitor the amount of luminosity from the mixture as you stir, and stop adding paint once you're happy with the results.

Pour the mixture onto a paper plate or into a shallow dish for your child to use for painting 1. If you have any of the mixture left over, you can store it in a sealable container, but be sure to stir it thoroughly before your next use to distribute the luminous zinc sulfide.


Since you are adding the paint to the luminous zinc sulfide, you might end up using less paint to make sure the powder provides maximum luminosity in the mixture. If you run out of the mixture before your youngster's finished painting, just mix up another batch with a ratio of 5 parts paint to 1 part powder and continue on with the glow-in-the-dark painting fun.

For the most glow-in-the-dark power possible, mix the luminous zinc sulfide with a light-colored paint and apply it to a light-colored surface. Darker paint colors and surfaces will reduce luminosity.