Designer Safety Goggles


    Please note:  All chemicals and experiments can entail an element of risk, and no experiments should be performed without proper adult supervision.

    Kids, do you have a pair of safety goggles from a chemistry kit or a science fair? You can even buy a cheap pair at a hardware store. These goggles serve a necessary safety function, but everyone knows how unattractive they are (okay, "nerdy"). One way to jazz them up is to tint the frames in a variety of colors. Use a packaged fabric dye (such as Rit) that can be found in grocery stores. Make up the dye solution according to the directions on the package, and have your adult partner keep it warm on the stove. The goggles are put in here for a few minutes until you have the tint you like. There is some beautiful chemistry involved in the dyeing process. The poly(vinyl chloride) frames become tinted while the polycarbonate lenses are not colored. One package of dye will in fact tint dozens of goggles.

    Did you know that these dyes are used by optical supply companies to tint regular eyeglasses? The dyes are azo and anthraquinone compounds that produce no skin irritation, and are neither caustic nor toxic. If you get some dye on your skin flush with water; any staining is harmless. Get creative and tint your goggles to match clothing or to match a holiday, like orange and black for Halloween.


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    January 1994


    Reference: J. W. Hill and C. A. Harmes, J. Chem. Ed. 1993, 70(9), 779.