Cyalume Light Sticks

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cyalume

This is a picture provided by the Internet.  There is a HUGE debate involving “Leave No Trace” and the use of “disposable” items.  On a three-day trip Cyalume lightsticks provide an easy battery free method for lighting when you need it.  The chemical reaction directly produces light as opposed to providing power that excites a filament.  There are fewer points of failure with a lightstick.  This makes them more reliable.  Now for the part of the conversation that will likely cause an argument.

Lightsticks are MORE ecologically sound than a battery and LED.  First, construction of a lightstick takes and produces less in the way of environmental contaminants.  The process of crafting multiple metals, chemicals, plastic, and glass is more damaging to the environment than crafting just glass, plastic and chemicals into a light source.

Next, the chemicals in lightsticks are non-toxic.  Once used, cutting them open and dumping them on the ground with no ill effect.  What about leaving a battery in a forrest?  That IS toxic.

Remove the chemical from the lightstick and you have glass and plastic leftover.  BOTH of these are EASILY recycled.  It takes MUCH more energy to dismantle and recycle even an LED based light.

So, to review, the disposable lightsticks are directly and easily recyclable with the exception of the non-toxic chemical inside of them.  LED lights and batteries MUST be processed to get them down to components for recycling.  This requires a larger amount of energy.

In this case, the best answer if you are environmentally conscious is to use lightsticks.  Since they are a “consumable” you don’t count them in your weight when Ultralight Backpacking.  You get light for free.  Feel free to leave rants.  I look forward to them.

Here is a convenient place to pick them up from.

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7 thoughts on “Cyalume Light Sticks

  1. ericplatt

    Are Lightsticks Recyclabe?
    I wonder if these are recyclable – the plastic on the outside probably is, but the insides are problematic as far as dumping: how non-toxic are the chemicals inside lightsticks? They contain fluorocarbons:
    http://chemistry.about.com/library/weekly/aa031703a.htm
    Chemical Safety?
    http://www.chemicalbook.com/ChemicalProductProperty_US_CB4217538.aspx
    “23: Toxic by inhalation
    24: Toxic in contact with skin
    25: Toxic if swallowed
    “Wear suitable protective clothing, gloves and eye/face protection”

    Hmm… Do I really want to trust the sellers of these things when they say “non-toxic” – in what sense do they mean?

      • ericplatt

        Yeah you’re welcome. Trying to balance out the information. I’m leaving conclusions open at this point. Toxicity is matter of degree (sugar and salt are “toxic” in larger quantities).
        I’m a bit of an internet research junkie. Saw a link for these sticks from Amazon.com and thought they could be good for camping (I’m a desert rat in Southern California) and keeping in case a flashlight runs out on a night hike (it’s happened to me before, in pitch black conditions in the desert), but then wondered what one does with them when they run out. Thus Googled “Lightsticks Recyclable” or something similar, and your site came up among others, and one thing led to another…
        I wouldn’t be against using them in small quantities.

        Thanks for the quick response.
        – Eric P

      • I should do a better job of making it clear I am recommending these in small quantities. I have been in desert conditions, at night, pitch black. I get it, and understand the concern. I’ve lived in the Southwest all my life so I am used to high altitude deserts, late/early snows, flash floods and microbursts. Mother Nature can really try to end a hiking/backpacking/camping trip quickly…

      • ericplatt

        What’s you favorite high desert?
        I should mention too that compared to regular, one-use batteries being thrown in a landfill, they are an improvement. I use solar-recharged batteries: have a panel on the top of my vehicle and a charger in there. Even at home I charge my batteries (mostly AAAs) with this system: http://www.ericplatt.com/technos/SolarFridge05.htm

  2. I wonder if these are recyclable – the plastic on the outside probably is, but the insides are problematic as far as dumping: how non-toxic are the chemicals inside lightsticks? They contain fluorocarbons:
    http://chemistry.about.com/library/weekly/aa031703a.htm
    Chemical Safety?
    http://www.chemicalbook.com/ChemicalProductProperty_US_CB4217538.aspx
    “23: Toxic by inhalation
    24: Toxic in contact with skin
    25: Toxic if swallowed
    “Wear suitable protective clothing, gloves and eye/face protection”

    Hmm….

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