(and to an extent their biological cousins
, the firefly
) use a process called chemiluminescence
to produce light
. Most common glowsticks
use hydrogen peroxide
in an ampule which is broken when you snap
and is mixed with a liquid called ester
to start the chemical
Differences between the duration and consequently brightness of the reaction is dependent on the amount of hydrogen peroxide provided. Larger amounts of hydrogen peroxide will produce a faster and brighter reaction. Lesser amounts will of course produce a slower and dimmer reaction.
Lowering the temperature of a glowstick will of course slow down the chemical reaction time; raising the temperature will speed it up. Your average "rave-quality" glowstick will survive 5 hours in normal situations (even less if you hit me upside the head with it while I'm lost in a jig).