top of page
  • eric ritter

What Spray makes lead glow?

Updated: Apr 26

Methylammonium Bromide in Isopropanol Alcohol with an acid, first created in 2018 by a group of Dutch Scientists, their original work can be seen in This Paper.

They actually went on to create the worlds first Glowing Lead Test!

Which I cant, Ironically post for err- reasons...

Lukas Helmbrecht and his professor Willem L. Noorduin, both aspiring entrepreneurs hijacked their own group project out of AMOLF, a Research Facility in the Netherlands.

The paper titled "Shape-preserving transformation of carbonate minerals into lead halide perovskite semiconductors based on ion exchange/insertion reactions" Details a method of converting ordinary lead carbonate into the glowing form.

one of my favorite photos

But they didn't even start there! they first transformed calcium carbonate structures, both macroscopic and microscopic into lead carbonate.

Second they transformed that lead carbonate into a form that glows.

Typically they would have carried out this reaction in an oven under argon, creating a vaporized form of methylammonium bromide which would react with the sample over time.

In order to speed up the reaction they found that they could just mix a clever, novel combination of Methylammonium Bromide and isopropanol (also known as rubbing alcohol) along with a little bit of Hydrogen Chloride (hydrochloric acid).

While the acid is optional, they postulated in their paper that the inclusion of the acid would make the carbonate "a good leaving group", since an acid would donate Hydrogen to the Lead Carbonate (PbCO3) it would free up the lead.

the interaction between the HCL acid and the lead carbonate can be visualized as


Which then spontaneously reacts with Methylammonium Bromide to form

CH3​NH3Br+PbCl2-----> CH3​NH3PbBr3 + CH3​NH3PbCl3 in some ratio which nobody seems to be exactly sure of - but it doesn't matter! its a VERY sensitive test for lead, How do i know this? beyond my Own research?

Lukas and Wim have done it again - writing several other papers at AMOLF detailing the high sensitivity, and chemical sensitivity of the methylammonium bromide lead detection method.

This reaction wound up being clean enough to transform tiny micro structures from normal lead carbonate, in to glowing lead - with the help of a UV light source of course.

What made this innovation so important to the field of lead detection is that, in theory, would work as well or even better on Basic Lead Carbonate, or White Lead. Since the Basic moiety of the molecule would easily react with the acid component disclosed in their original work which i wont be posting any images from for obvious reasons.

Lets break down things a bit further.

Lead Paint is a combination of basic and regular lead carbonate.

The formula of Basic Lead Carbonate is 2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2 , and Acids react with bases to neutralize them the reaction kinetics of this would be


While on paper this seems obvious, and while it took them a few years to get around to trying it in the real world- once they did things lit up!

They were so excited they spent the next two years applying for competitions in the Netherlands, starting a company and filing for patent protection, ostensibly so they alone could produce this lead testing fluid.

Pretty cool right?

I thought so, since I already make and sell lead testing kits I figured this was a natural progression for myself as well. Once I found out about this compelling technology I poured everything I had into learning the ins and outs of lead detection using this method, spending countless (literally) hours trying different formulations, trying to improve what was out of the box, an already very eloquent way to disclose the presence of lead.

Along the way I may have learned a little too much about what lead does, to people, to societies, how we detect it and what the implications of our current situation are. It began a real shift in my thinking, and I felt a higher calling.

Once I deemed their product insufficient to serve the market I knew it was time to embark on my own glowing lead journey.

Lead Detection is something which has always been hampered by private monopolies, Lead Check remained 5$ per test for its entire 25 year patent protected life- it greatly enriched the creator, spawning a Venture Capital company dedicated to furthering the entrepreneurial spirit.

While i am grateful for the opportunity such protracted monopolization has created, my heart breaks for all those who have suffered as a result.

But at the end of the day this is the only thing I can do- prevent another 25 years of sequestered, insular production of tools which can easily prevent life altering (sometimes life ending) neurological issues whose effects manifest in both physical - high blood pressure- and mind neurological - aggression, ADHD symptoms, and an overall diminished intellectual capacity-

Everyone on earth deserves to understand their environment, themselves and others in ways which enable each of us to do the right thing by one another.

Whether that's offering people who've done good money for their good work, giving others the benefit of the doubt or entrusting that people will reciprocate kind loving acts with care and dignity, principals of love and kindness will never fail to advance the human species.

I genuinely think that without a lead population we will have such a greater chance to find public discourage that leads us to live in the grey area.

As a random aside I think that black and white thinking is symptomatic of lead poisoning, since it requires a certain level of reductiveness, common in people with diminished IQ.

I know we have all experience obstinate behavior from others, and I invite everyone to extend their most loving gestures to people who are simply wrapped up in their own worlds, separated from the collective consciousness by a stark indifference to doing the same- maybe it was severe childhood lead poisoning- maybe its just about money.

Regardless thank you for reading and please consider checking your environment if you may be exposed to lead, you now can avoid it entirely with a simple test.

So be well and mind your choices, because they impact people and my utilitarian instincts tell me to harm the least amount of people possible, sometimes we need to flip that switch to save the family who are already on the tracks.

Shout out to Wikipedia and the Trolley Problem

182 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page