Why Are Glow-In-the-Dark Threads Green?

xstitch magazine issue 3 cover I write and I make patterns for the XStitch Magazine and found myself writing a companion piece before, such as my blog on when cross stitch almost made it to space. However in the newest issue, we talk about green. My post focused on the weird relationship we have with green, in both love and hate, thanks to ink prices, sour emotions and the green of nature. I had planned to cross stitch something within the theme using glow-in-the-dark thread, as I knew it came in green. But then I though:

Why are glow-in-the-dark threads green?

Let’s start by looking at the facts; glow in the dark thread is green. You can see a few awesome glow-in-the-dark stitches elsewhere on my website, its green. But does it have to be? No. In fact, there are loads of threads out there that are glow-in-the-dark and not green, take these Kreinik ones for example:

kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)
kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)

There are two reasons for the green glow. Science, and physcology.
Science – The reason the glow comes, or the phosphorescent if you want to get fancy, is mostly down to zinc sulfide. Unlike other glowing chemicals, zinc is non-harmful to humans, and fairly stable. Zinc sulfide, is green. Now, you can add it to other chemicals to make it different colors, hence Kreinik’s threads, however the combining reduces the phosphorescent effect heavily.
Physcology – People expect it to be green. Originally green was used as a haunted and eery color thanks to halloween, being represented in alien blood, slime or zombies, and so when glow-in-the-dark colors came into fashion, green seemed the obvious choice. Since then, you naturally associate the color in your head when thinking of glow-in-the-dark, so when its different; you don’t like it as much. Turns out people, just like it that way.

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