Though glow sticks and light sticks are considered the same, there are certain differences between them. The major difference is that glow sticks are considered in general as novelties for recreation and entertainment whereas light sticks are considered for handling emergency situations.
A glow stick is a small plastic tube containing a chemical and a fluorescent dye. Inside the plastic tube is a glass vial which contains another chemical. When the plastic tube is bent enough, the inner glass tube breaks combining the two chemicals. A chemiluminescent reaction occurring between them gives a glow of light that is colorful due to the dye. Glow sticks are found in different colors including blue, red, green, yellow, pink, green, orange and white. Any colored glow stick can be used for parties and events celebrated in dark. However, light sticks are found only in bright colors like yellow, green and orange.
As said, glow sticks are perfect for night parties where as light sticks are used for handling emergency situations. Any rescue operations conducted after natural disasters such as an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, ice storm, tsunami, power outages, etc., need a perfect light source that can be handled easily. Emergency light sticks serve well for this purpose. The other difference between them is the mode of foil packaging. Glow sticks are packed in bulk where as light sticks are packed in individual foils. This changes their shelf life too. Items of individual foil packaging last for a longer time for about four years. However, those which do not include foil packaging have a shorter shelf life of just two years. Glow sticks and light sticks are the terms used interchangeably in general, but they are used in two entirely different markets. However, both glow sticks and light sticks are excellent sources of reliable and safe light for a longer time.