All About Luminol

Did you know that luminol is an incredibly handy tool? Well, it might not be in your household, but to those who deal with crime scene investigations and clean-ups, it’s close to an everyday item. If anyone is wondering how this agent pertains to these certain occupations, here’s some information.

Luminol is a powder, that once mixed with a liquid containing hydrogen peroxide, becomes the perfect bloodhound. Literally! Luminol is used to alert forensic investigators to compounds that may not be visible to the naked eye. It does so by emitting a signature blue glow, but what makes it special is that this only happens after it comes in contact with an oxidizing agent, such as blood. Since this reaction is not solely limited to blood, a counter test may be run to verify the results, but usually, luminol is used to locate invisible patterns that may help influence a theory or provide evidence. The glow can reveal drag marks, clean-up attempts by those involved, or exit routes.

Still intrigued? Here’s some science basics relating to luminol!

  • Blood contains hemoglobin, which is a protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen and iron. These act as a catalyst in the oxidation process between the luminol and hydrogen peroxide, and the iron helps keep the glow bright.
  • The emission of light produced is called chemiluminescence. Basically, this word just means the glow is a result of a chemical reaction not prompted by heat or a flame. Side note: This is the same phenomenon that happens in fireflies!
  • Surprisingly, luminol can produce a glow for many other substances including copper, bleach, different vegetables, or plants, and oddly enough, horseradish! This is why in cases where samples are being tested, they need to be double-checked for a 100% guarantee.

Luminol provides an extra helping hand, and hopefully this information has clued you in as to why!

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