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How to Make a Laser Pointer Beam Visible?


We use laser pointers to highlight things of interest during visual demonstrations and other presentations. Their brightly colored lights draw the audience’s attention.

One frequent complaint from users is that the laser beams are invisible across space until they fall on the board. 

The brightness of a laser’s beam depends on its color and wavelength. However, even the brightest beams may be invisible across space.

This article explains why your laser beam is invisible. It also describes 6 easy ways to create a visible beam inside or outside your home.

Can a Laser Pointer Beam be Visible?

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Vision is triggered when light enters the human eyes and falls on the retinal cells. This means that we can only see a light that enters our eyes.

There are only two ways light from your laser pointer can get into your eyes:

  • By pointing the beam directly into your eyes.
  • By reflecting the light off an object and into your eyes.

First, you must never point laser light directly into your eyes because it is dangerous and can lead to vision loss.

When light is reflected off an object and into the eyes, the effects are much milder. The thing absorbs some of the laser’s wavelength, and the diffused light becomes visible to you. 

When using your laser pointer, the light beam travels through space before hitting the object of interest. The beam is invisible in that space because nothing can reflect the light into your eyes. 

Here’s what to do: create a medium for reflection. Put particles in the air to reflect the light and make the beam visible to you.

How to Make a Laser Pointer Beam Visible

Yes, you can make a laser beam visible. Now, the question is how?

There are several ways to create a medium for light reflection. In the following sections, we will discuss a select range of reflectors.

Some of the methods below are not sustainable for long periods, but we’ll let you decide which one suits your purpose.

10 Ways to Make a Laser Beam More Visible

1. A Fog Machine

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A fog machine is the best way to get a very bold, visible beam. It is also one method that you can sustain for long periods.

Fog machines create a dense vapor by rapidly heating a mixture of water and glycol. Entertainment professionals and theaters use them to make fog or smoke illusions.

You can purchase a fog machine to use within an enclosed space. It will generate enough vapor particles to reflect your laser beam.

A small fog machine like the Fansteck Halloween Fog Machine  can give excellent results. When you point your laser pointer through the fog, the beam may be as bright as a lightsaber.

2. Water

When you point your laser pointer through a body of water, the beam becomes visible. The water serves as a reflector; the light bounces off the water particles and into your eyes.

You can point the laser through a fish tank or an aquarium but avoid accidentally blinding any fish. We advise you to use a tank without any fish in it.

You can also use a glass cup or beaker containing a mixture of some water and milk. However, the size of either setup limits its applications. 

3. Steam

steam generated from boiling water

Steam is a gaseous form of water vapor. It creates a mist, and your laser light reflects off the gas particles. 

You can put a pot of boiling water in the room to generate steam. Water in a hot tub also works pretty well as a source of steam. 

A clothes iron is another good source of steel. Some of them come with a feature that blows out steam to remove wrinkles in clothes. 

Just hold up the clothes iron and let the steam out into the air. When there’s enough steam in the air, point your laser through. 

4. Weather

The weather can help make your laser beam visible. The beam will be brighter at night, but it’s still quite visible in daylight. 

Snowy, rainy or foggy days can give you the medium you need to make a laser pointer beam visible. Of course, this option is only available for outdoor use.

Just point the laser pointer through the falling rain or fog, and you’ll see the beam outlined. You have to be careful so that the moisture does not damage your laser pointer.

5. Dust

Dust particles in the air

Dust particles in the air serve as an excellent medium for reflection. You can beat the dust off any old piece of furniture. 

While the dust particles are still in the air, point your laser through, and you’ll see the beam.

This method cannot be sustained for long periods because dust is unhealthy, especially for allergic people. 

Chalkdust is a better alternative. You can wipe some off a chalkboard and beat the duster out into the air. However, we consider talc powder the best reflector dust.

6. Smoke

The smoke will make the laser light visible

A good amount of smoke in the air can make laser lights visible. The beam is more apparent in dark rooms or at night, but it can be pretty visible in the daytime with thick smoke. 

To see your laser beam, you can light a match and blow it off. The smoke will make the laser visible. 

You can also burn some wood in a fire pit or light a cigarette to get smoke. Don’t use this method if you’ll be in contact with the smoke for a long while. 

Note: These methods we have explained do not alter or enhance the laser’s beam. They only create a medium in the atmosphere to make the beam visible to an audience. 

Tips to remember

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  • Your laser lights will always be more visible in a dark room. 
  • The light from a laser is very harmful to the human eyes, and exposure can cause temporary loss of vision. Use safety goggles  around strong beams. 
  • Our eyes are most sensitive to the wavelength of green light. 
  • This sensitivity makes green pointers  appear brighter in comparison to others of the same power rating. 
  • Take precautions when using a steam medium to avoid any accidents with the hot water or a clothes iron.
  • Weather is very unreliable because it is not within your control. If you’re planning a future demonstration, it’s better to prepare a more practical option.

FAQ

Why can’t we see a laser beam going across the room?

laser light generated from a device

Laser light consists of photons that are too concentrated and controlled to be seen. For our eyes to see laser light, it has to be scattered somehow and refracted. 

Particles along its path can scatter a laser beam. The photons are reflected off these particles, and this makes them visible to the human eyes. 

If there are particles already present in the air, you may see your laser’s beam faintly. 

To get a brighter view of the beam, you need a medium that can be suspended thickly in the air for some time. Introduce larger particles like dust, smoke, and steam into the air. 

Conclusion

Laser pointers are helpful during business presentations and other activities that require visual highlighting. 

For many reasons, including safety, you may want to make your laser pointer beam visible. We hope you can pick the method that works best for you from our selection.

Last update on 2021-10-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.


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