Black Light Bulb Guide
Whether you’re preparing for a glow party or you simply want to check your home furniture for stains, black light bulbs can help you get the job done. Unlike standard, incandescent light bulbs that are specifically used to create bright white or yellow light, black light bulbs function differently and therefore fulfill very specific purposes. Despite the black light bulb’s uses across a wide range of occasions, many people are confused about how a black bulb works, what types of black bulbs are available, and what black bulbs can actually do.
So, what’s the difference between a black bulb and a traditional light bulb? Why is the black light blue bulb such a popular option? Finally, what are some of the most common things you can do with a black light bulb? In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at exactly how a black light bulb is defined.
What Is A Black Light Bulb?
While the name black light bulb implies that it is intended to produce light, it actually does the complete opposite. When you turn on a traditional light bulb, it emits visible light waves that illuminate the surrounding area. While a black light bulb does provide a very small degree of illumination, it does so in a very different way.
Essentially, a black light bulb works by emitting long-wave ultraviolet light. These kinds of waves produce very little visible light. In fact, many black light lamps use a special kind of filter that reduces the amount of visible let even further, while still allowing for UV-A waves to pass through the glass. These are known as black light blue bulbs (like this one here), or BLB for short. BLBs are particularly popular because they reduce visible light while amplifying the ability to closely observe fluorescence.
Though most black light bulbs emit a soft blue or purple glow, the actual black light UV radiation is invisible to the naked eye. However, this does not mean that we cannot see the result of it. For example, when a black light is turned on, its glow is a reflection of the energy being emitted, which is often turned into visible light via particles known as phosphors. For this reason, black lights generally have the effect of making objects, people, and spaces around them appear to “glow” with colorful light, despite emitting almost no light of their own.
However, it’s important to note that there are various types of black light bulbs that offer different experiences and functions to consumers. Some black light bulbs are better designed for parties, while others are designed for more professional hobbies and activities (like determining the authenticity of paintings). We will examine the specific uses of black light bulbs a little later on, but first, let’s take a quick look at some of the most common and popular types of black light bulbs:
LED Black Light Bulbs
Typically, LED lights are best known for their lack of chemicals and their 0% UV emission. This would make it seem as though LED black light bulbs were an impossibility, as black light technology requires long-wave UV radiation to work. Contrary to popular belief, many LED light bulbs are equipped to work as black lights as well. In fact, LED lights can produce just about any wavelength on the spectrum, meaning that you can combine the long lifespan and energy efficiency of LED technology with the effects of black light bulbs.
CFL Black Light Bulbs
Compact Fluorescent Lamp or CFL light bulbs first entered the market in the 1970s, though they gained popularity in the mid-2000s due to their energy-saving capabilities. These bulbs are most recognizable for their spiral shape. Unlike incandescent bulbs, CFL bulbs that emit visible light work very similarly to black light bulbs. In a standard CFL bulb, the electric current moves between electrodes inside of the gas-filled tube. This reaction produces UV light, which is transformed into visible light when it reaches the phosphor coating on the bulb’s interior. Therefore, it only takes a simple design change to go from a standard CFL bulb to a black CFL light bulb (like this one).
Fluorescent Black Light Bulbs
Like CFL light bulbs, fluorescent light bulbs already work much like black lights, insofar as they produce UV waves that react with phosphors. Unlike CFL bulbs, fluorescent light bulbs come in many different shapes and sizes, including long, straight tubes and U-shaped bulbs. In either case, black light fluorescent tubes have the advantage of very long lifespans (especially when compared to incandescent bulbs). Moreover, black light tubes (like this one) can offer a greater coverage area of UV light.
Incandescent Black Light Bulbs
As previously mentioned, incandescent light bulbs have been the traditional way for people to illuminate interior spaces for decades. Though incandescent bulbs have to be replaced more frequently and require more energy than many other types of bulbs (like CFL or LED), they are often less expensive and easy to replace. Consequently, incandescent black light bulbs offer a cheap and easy way to implement black lights in your home or workspace. Here is just one example that can be used in just about any standard lamp or light fixture.
Finally, blacklight flashlights are some of the most popular and useful types of black lights available. Not only is a UV flashlight portable and extremely cost-effective, but it also makes it easier to manage a wide range of tasks. One of the most common blacklight flashlight uses includes detection of stains or tiny objects. This means that they can be used as a cat urine or dog urine detector, bed bug detector, or just a general stain detector. If you’re currently in the market for a small, affordable blacklight flashlight, you can find one right here!
What Are Black Light Bulbs Used For?
As you can see, there are a lot of different options and considerations when it comes time to shop for black light bulbs. However, the most important thing you will need to think about before making a purchase is the intended use of your black light bulb or flashlight. Black light uses vary widely, so let’s take a look at some of the most common ways to take advantage of black light technology:
- Authentication - UV light can often be used to check the authenticity of antiques, paintings, and even currency.
- Research - Many sea-dwelling animals and materials that react to UV exposure can be further researched using black light bulbs.
- Stain Detection - People commonly use black lights and blacklight flashlights to check beds, carpets, clothing, walls, and other objects for stains or bug infestations.
- Atmosphere - Using black lights to illuminate a dark interior space can create a fun, neon “party” atmosphere in nightclubs, theme parks, and similar venues.
Lastly, it’s important to know how to use a black light before making a purchase. Even though the precise methods you use will vary based on your reasons for using a black light, the same general principles apply. By turning off all the lights and creating a dark atmosphere, you can use a black light bulb or flashlight to find stains, illuminate fluorescence in the area, or create a visual spectacle. Alternatively, black light bulbs can still be used in well-lit areas to examine antiques, conduct research on certain animals or materials, or even check the authenticity of paper currency!
Are you interested in purchasing a black light bulb or flashlight? If so, be sure to check out our high-quality bulb and lighting products at Bulb Center today!