The messes you can’t see are often the most odious. Those times when you come home and can’t detect the origin of that odd odor can send you into a cleaning frenzy. One of the most unexpected cleaning tools you can have in your arsenal is something you might associate more with raves and haunted houses, and that’s a UV flashlight black light. A UV flashlight black light can help you detect all sorts of messes you can’t see, allowing you to properly clean trouble areas. Just make sure you brace yourself for what you might find.
The Best Uses for a UV Flashlight
There are natural and manmade items that are fluorescent, also called phosphors — these glow under a black light because they absorb and reflect the ultraviolet light back at you. Antifreeze, some rocks and minerals, tonic water and even olive oil emit some light under a black light. And yes, many body fluids can be detected using a black light.
One fact you may not have known about black lights is that the distinctive blueish purple glow doesn’t actually come from the UV light. That’s an additional filter that’s added to the bulb of black lights. This helps block out unwanted visible light that can come from the bulb and overpower the luminescence (this filter also has the added benefit of making it look cool).
When living organisms emit light, that’s known as bioluminescence. You might associate bioluminescence with animals that live in water, such as jellyfish. But you might not have realized that scorpions glow under a black light, too — this can be helpful if you live somewhere where scorpion infestations might happen. Scorpions aren’t the only pests you can detect using a black light. You can potentially seek out signs of a rodent infestation using UV light, which will illuminate urine. Likewise, you can monitor any stains your pets might leave.
Of course, the wide number of things that glow under a black light means that the practical applications of a black light go far beyond cleaning and partying. Some banknotes are marked with luminescent strips, including US 20 dollar bills. That means that a black light can be a handy thing to keep around to quickly authenticate bills. Modern IDs are printed with a luminescent image too, so having a UV flashlight is great if you’re a doorman at a bar.
Since some coolants have phosphors added (like the aforementioned antifreeze) you can use a black light to potentially detect leaks. And if that’s all terribly dull, just get one of these for your next party to show off your glowing gin and tonics.
What To Consider Before Buying a UV Flashlights
You might not expect to need a physics lesson when picking out a UV flashlight, but it is important to have a baseline familiarity with wavelengths. UV light begins below 400 nanometers, or nm. UV light falls within the 10 to 400 nm range, but with most blacklight flashlights, you’re looking at just two numbers in that range: 365 nm and 395 nm. 395 nm is closer to the visible light spectrum, whereas 365 nm UV is “deeper” into the UV spectrum. For more professional applications, you might opt for 365 nm, which offers greater fluorescence. However, 365 nm flashlights can be more expensive. We have included options in both categories on this list.
When picking the best UV flashlights and black lights, we sought out tools that will suit a variety of settings. These include flashlights with wide heads that can accurately scan a larger area. In addition, we picked out small pen flashlights, which are ideal for keeping in your pocket and taking on the go if you need to verify bills, IDs and the like. Check out some of the available options for anyone in the market for a UV flashlight.
1. Vansky Flashlight Black Light
If you’re looking for something bright and powerful, consider this flashlight from Vansky. It has a narrow metal grip with a knurled texture, making it easy to hold. But the head of the flashlight is large, casting a wider beam. This allows you to search an area more quickly and efficiently. It’s also vibrant, thanks to the 51 UV led bulbs it has. Plus, the flashlight is rated for IPX4 protection (meaning it can resist splashing water).
Pros: Large head with 52 bulbs, so it casts a wider and stronger glow. IPX4 water-resistance.
Cons: Requires three AA batteries, which are not included.
2. morpilot Black Light
A black light flashlight may be somewhat of a niche product, but there are still multiple applications in which you might want to use one. That’s why it can be worth it to have more than one. This blacklight flashlight comes in a pack of two. They’re not pen-sized, but they are compact enough to easily take on the go. The knurled grip makes it easier to hold.
Pros: Comes in a pack of two. Compact size. Portable and easy to take on the go.
Cons: Some may prefer a longer lanyard for more secure holding.
3. Karrong UV Flashlight
If you’re going to buy a UV light for taking on the go, then it’s not a bad idea to pick one that can perform multiple functions. This light works as UV light or as a traditional white flashlight. A third light on the handle can help illuminate a working area if you’re in the dark, while the magnetic attachment allows you to mount it to keep both hands free. Best of all, this light is rechargeable using a USB cable, so you can power it up while you’re in the car or on the move.
Pros: Includes multiple kinds of light for greater versatility. Can be recharged with a USB cable for easier on-the-go use.
Cons: Not as compact as other options.
4. Streamlight LED Pen Light
Bigger isn’t always better. This pen light is very compact and easy to stash in a pocket using the included clip. The textured grip makes it easier to hold, while the click on the back offers the familiar operation of a pen. Plus, the 365 nm UV light offers more professional performance.
Pros: Compact size. Easy to put in a pocket. Includes a pen clip. 365 nm UV for greater performance.
Cons: Uses AAAA, which can be harder to find when they need replacing.
5. BRIONAC UV Black Light Flashlight
This option from Brionac has the most bulbs of any of the options on this list. With a staggering128 UV LEDs, this light is a great option for quickly searching wider areas. It has a large head to accommodate the large number of bulbs, but the narrow handle means that it’s still easy to handle with one hand. Plus, the adjustable lanyard makes it easy to carry. Because of the powerful beam, this unit requires six AA batteries.
Pros: Powerful option with 128 UV LEDs. Casts wide and strong beam. Water-resistant protection.
Cons: Requires six batteries, which are not included.
6. LETION 2 in 1 UV Black Light with Highlight
This UV light from Letion is an impressive option thanks to the multiple functions it performs. Using the on/off button, you can toggle between a regular flashlight and a UV light. Plus, it even has a strobe function for the regular flashlight. An added bonus is that you can change the zoom of the beam by twisting the head. This allows you to focus a narrow bright beam on a specific location, or cast a wider glow over a larger area. It also has a handy lanyard for comfortable carrying on the go.
Pros: Flashlight and UV functions, plus low beam, strobe and zoom functions. Lanyard and pen clip for easy carrying.
Cons: Since only one button is used for four functions, changing modes can be tedious.