In this quick and inexpensive tutorial, we are going to show you how to make a Real Glowing Mineral Dig for the young Excavating Adventurers in your life to dig into, explore, and investigate the awesome phenomenon known as fluorescence.


Fun Fact: Over 500 minerals have been discovered that exhibit some sort of fluorescence when exposed to ultraviolet light. Fluorescence usually occurs when specific impurities, known as “activators”, are present within the mineral.


Excavating Adventure Pro Tip: This is a great excavation activity to use to demonstrate the UV properties of some minerals. Try out our Digital Dig virtual gem mining adventure and get some free minerals to investigate and see if they exhibit fluorescence.




Plaster of Paris


Mixing Bowl

Wooden spoon

Measuring cups

Popsicle stick, wooden dowels, brushes, magnifying glass, and safety goggles. These will be the excavation tools and safety equipment your Excavating Adventurer will need to explore and enjoy their excavation.

Glow paint and brush

Deli sandwich container with hinged lid. This is my preferred container for this excavation but you can use any container you like.  

UV light

Fluorite is readily available, inexpensive, and a great specimen to use to demonstrate the “glowing” properties of some minerals. There are also numerous other minerals that glow in UV light that would be perfect for this excavation activity.


Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: Do not have any minerals that exhibit fluorescence? Simply get some gravel and regular rocks, paint them with glow in the dark paint, and use them to discuss fluorescence. 


If you love minerals that glow and do all kinds of other crazy things, then you will definitely need to check out our Outrageous Rocks excavation kit. This one of a kind kit is filled with rocks and minerals that do amazing things like grow crystals, float, exhibit natural magnetism, peel into sheets and much more!



  1. Paint the inside and outside of the deli sandwich container with glow in the dark paint. Be sure to paint the lid too.
  2. Place the fluorite in the container.
  3. Mix 1 cups sand with 1/3 cup Plaster of Paris.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of water and mix until you have a pancake batter consistency.
  5. Pour the mixture over the fluorite.
  6. Allow to set for five to eight minutes. Then add more fluorite, make another batch of mixture, and pour it into the container to make another layer. Keep making layers until the container is filled to the rim.
  7. Optional – Sprinkle glow in the dark glitter over the surface of the excavations.
  8. Place the excavation in front of a fan overnight until it is completely dry. Make sure the lid is secured so it does not close and slow the drying process.
  9. Once you are ready to let you Excavating Adventurer enjoy the Real Glowing Mineral Dig, find a dark room or area that can get a little dirty but be easily cleaned up. Provide the UV light, safety goggles and excavations tools and let them dig in and discover the real glowing minerals you have hidden inside.


Excavating Adventures Pro Tip: Replace the plaster and sand mixture with kinetic sand for young Excavating Adventurers! Younger children may struggle with the excavation activity but will love exploring the kinetic sand for the glowing hidden treasures.


Glowing Wonders: Fun Facts about Fluorescence in Minerals!



Fun Facts about Fluorescence in Minerals:

  1. Fluorescence is the ability of certain minerals to emit visible light when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.

  2. Ultraviolet light, which is invisible to the human eye, causes electrons in the mineral's atomic structure to become excited and then release light energy in visible wavelengths.

  3. Fluorescent minerals come in a variety of vibrant colors, including bright greens, oranges, pinks, and blues.

  4. Different minerals exhibit different fluorescent colors. For example, willemite typically fluoresces green, while calcite can fluoresce in various colors such as red, blue, and yellow.

  5. The intensity and color of fluorescence can vary depending on factors like the type of mineral, impurities present, and the wavelength of the UV light.

  6. Minerals with fluorescent properties are found all over the world, from famous localities like the Franklin Mine in New Jersey, USA, to the Tsumeb Mine in Namibia.

  7. UV lamps, also known as blacklights, are commonly used to observe and appreciate the fluorescence of minerals.

  8. Some minerals may exhibit both fluorescence and phosphorescence, where the emitted light continues to glow for a short period even after the UV light source is removed.

  9. Fluorescent minerals have both scientific and aesthetic value, captivating mineral enthusiasts and serving as important tools for mineral identification.

  10. The study of fluorescence in minerals has contributed to our understanding of the atomic and crystal structures of minerals, as well as their formation processes.

  11. Some minerals fluoresce under natural sunlight, making them a fascinating sight to discover in outdoor settings or museum exhibits.

  12. Exploring the world of fluorescent minerals can be a thrilling experience, as you never know which rock or mineral might light up under UV light!

Remember, the glowing colors of fluorescent minerals add a mesmerizing touch to the beauty and intrigue of the mineral kingdom!



If your Excavating Adventurer loved discovering and learning about some of the many amazing properties of rocks and minerals, then be sure to sign them up to get a dig kit every month filled with unique specimens to discover, identify, investigate, learn about, and collect.


Question 1: What causes minerals to exhibit fluorescence? A) Exposure to sunlight B) Magnetic properties C) Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light D) High temperature conditions

Correct answer: C) Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light

Question 2: Which color is commonly associated with willemite fluorescence? A) Green B) Blue C) Red D) Orange

Correct answer: A) Green

Question 3: What are UV lamps commonly known as? A) Flashlights B) Blacklights C) Sunlights D) Rainbow lights

Correct answer: B) Blacklights