Sunday, April 21, 2013

Luminol experiments with vegetables

Luminol is a chemical with the nice formula C8H7N3O2 and the official name 5-Amino-2,3-dihydro-1,4-phthalazinedione. It is used in forensic analyses to find blood traces on crime scenes and in biology to find iron, copper or cyanide in cells. Luminol is reacting with oxidizing chemicals like hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and produces a blue glowing chemoluminescence. Under normal conditions this luminescence in invisible but the use of catalyst chemicals like iron or copper cause an intensive cold blue light. In blood the iron of the hemoglobin is reacting with luminol. Some plants contain a high amount of enzymes called peroxidases (horseradish peroxidase, HRP) that catalyst the reduction of peroxides and also the oxidation of luminol. The photos below show some vegetables that were treated with luminol. They react very different depending on the concentration of peroxidases.

I used the standard solution of luminol powder mixed with potassium hydroxide solution with a concentration of 10 % and hydrogen peroxide. The solution was brought on the fresh cut vegetable. The reaction started immediately and produced some mystic blue glowing. All photos are made with a exposure time of 25 seconds in almost total darkness, an aperture of 4.5 and film speed 400. With enough luminol it is possible to transform a market stall for vegetable into fairy lights.

A slice of radish:
luminol radish

And another piece of radish:
luminol plants

A small radish:
luminol vegetables

In tomato’s it reacts only the outer portion and the peel:
experiments using luminol

Cucumber with a weak chemoluminescence:
experiments  luminol

A piece of cabbage:
luminol experiments

Lemon with a weak luminescence:
experiments using luminol

Sweet pepper:
luminol plant experiment

And an onion that has also few luminescence colors:
luminol onion

It is not only working with vegetables, eggs contain iron that reacts with luminol. But it causes a weak luminescence. 
luminol experiments


  1. I LOVE those pictures - look like beautiful abstract art. Lovely colors, too!

  2. Wow-I am impressed! Great colors and gorgeous shots!

  3. Interesting experiment. I like the results.

  4. Whatever you did, turned out some very interesting and unique shots.

  5. Ooo, you had some fun making shades of blue with vegetables. Thanks for playing Blue Monday.

    Happy Blue Monday!

  6. That is fascinating - and you got some truly great macros!

  7. Very interesting and almost "other-worldly" looking.

  8. So fascinating! I am happy I came by! Love the Blue Monday shares!


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