A black light, also referred to as a UV-A light, Wood's lamp, or simply ultraviolet light, is a lamp which emits long wave (UV-A) ultraviolet light and not much visible light. The lamp has a dark purple filter material, either on the bulb or in a separate glass filter in the lamp housing, which blocks most visible light and allows through UV, so the lamp has a dim purple glow when operating. Black light bulbs which have this filter have a lighting industry designation that includes the letters "BLB".
A second type of bulb which is also called a black light produces ultraviolet but does not have the filter material, so it produces more visible light and has a blue color when operating. These are made for use in "bug zapper" insect traps and are identified by the industry designation "BL".
Black light sources may be specially designed fluorescent lamps, mercury vapor lamps, light-emitting diodes, or incandescent lamps. In medicine, forensics, and some other scientific fields, such a light source is referred to as a Wood's lamp (named after Robert Williams Wood).
Although many other types of lamp emit ultraviolet light with visible light, black lights are essential when UV-A light without visible light is needed, particularly in observing fluorescence, the colored glow that many substances emit when exposed to UV. Black lights are employed for decorative and artistic lighting effects, for diagnostic and therapeutic uses in medicine, for the detection of substances tagged with fluorescent dyes, rock-hunting, for the detection of counterfeit money, for the curing of plastic resins and for attracting insects. Strong sources of long-wave ultraviolet light are used in tanning beds. Although the low power UV-A emitted by black lights is not a hazard to skin or eyes and can be viewed without protection, powerful ultraviolet sources present dangers and require personal protective equipment such as goggles and gloves.