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How to make forensic luminol

Updated February 21, 2017

You are probably familiar with forensic luminol from the many references to it on TV crime shows. It is sprayed on areas where blood is believed to be present. The luminol reacts with the iron in blood haemoglobin and glows a bluish purple when the lights are turned out. It will actually react to any iron present on a surface where it is sprayed. (Ref 1) You can buy luminol, but you can also make it on your own.

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  1. Mix the luminol powder and washing soda together as a dry mixture in a bowl.

  2. Stir in the distilled water a little at a time.

  3. Add the hydrogen peroxide to the mixture in the bowl a little at a time. Stir the solution thoroughly.

  4. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.

  5. Spray the luminol on a bloodstained cloth and turn out the lights. The cloth should glow a bluish-purple.

  6. Warning

    This solution is not very stable and changes to a gaseous state within hours. Store the luminol in a tightly sealed bottle if you plan to use it again.

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Things You'll Need

  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • 0.2g luminol powder
  • 10g washing soda
  • 180mL distilled water
  • 180mL 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Spray bottle
  • Bloodstained cloth

About the Author

Mary McNally has been writing and editing for over 13 years, including publications at Cornell University Press, Larson Publications and College Athletic Magazines. McNally also wrote and edited career and computer materials for Stanford University and Ithaca College. She holds a master's degree in career development from John F. Kennedy University and a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in counseling.

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