Black Light Bulbs

Also referred to as a UV-A light, Wood's lamp, or UV light, black lights are specialty light bulb systems that certain materials fluoresce. Homeowners or renters are most likely to use black light bulbs during parties or for making special artwork glow, and they have a wide variety of commercial and specialty uses as well. Bulbs used in black lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on what they are designed to be used for.

What can black-light bulbs be used for?

There are a myriad uses for black lights, including:

  • Medical applications: Back lights can be used to observe fluorescence in the patient's skin. Fluorescence could indicate certain skin diseases.
  • Stain and waste detection: Waste fluids from humans and animals fluoresce under black lights. Carpet cleaning services often use specialty light bulbs to find and treat pet stains in problem areas.
  • Hand stamping: Theme parks, night clubs, and other businesses may use black lights to see if a person's hand has been stamped. It allows for the use of invisible ink that doesn’t visibly stain the person’s hand but will show under a specialty light.
  • Marking valuables: Special marks can be applied to valuables or stock items that are invisible to the naked eye. Black lights can be used to illuminate the markings.
  • Artwork lighting: Black lights can be installed over artwork to make certain elements glow.
What types of black-light bulbs are there?

There are three main types of black lights:

  • Black-light fluorescent tubes: These types of lights are made from the same materials as regular fluorescent bulbs with the exception that a phosphor that emits UVA light is used. When in operation, they emit a dim, violet light.
  • Incandescent bulbs: These bulbs are made from a UV-filter coating, such as Wood's glass, on a standard incandescent bulb.
  • LED lights: LEDs are more energy efficient than other types of lighting and can often be used in a variety of lamps, depending on the wattage.
What is the difference between UV and black-light lamps?

For practical purposes, the two types of lamps are the same. However, UV lamps are deep purple or almost black in color and are more appropriate for use in certain applications, like in bug zappers. Black light lamps, on the other hand, may be used to detect contamination. Other types of specialty lighting can be used for a variety of purposes.

What colors work with black lights?

If you are using black lights for a party or other purpose, you can add fluorescent paint or clothing to make the experience more enjoyable. Neon or bright colors are more likely to have a glowing effect under the lights.