TRITIUM: A primer on tritium vials and where to buy them.
The TEC Accessories Isotope tritium fobs are a series of keychain fobs (or "lanterns") specifically designed to mount self-luminous tritium vials. They do not include tritium vials themselves, you must purchase the vials from a source typically outside the United States. This document was therefore created as an introduction to tritium, however it should not be considered a comprehensive guide. Additional information can be found at www.nrc.gov and many other online sources.
WHAT IS TRITIUM?
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of Hydrogen. Tritium light sources are radioluminescent and can be best described as a strong glow. They are self-powered and do not need to be charged via exposure to light, such as our Glow in the Dark Embrite™ glow material. Tritium does not in itself emit light but excites phosphors, thereby generating light. It is therefore most often encountered in glass capsules with an internal phosphor coating of various colors. Green is usually the brightest based on the phosphors and the sensitivity of the human eye. The half life of tritium is 12.32 years which means that a tritium based light source will be half as bright after 12.32 years.
ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON TRITIUM?
Tritium capsules are used in gun sights, archery sights, self luminous exit signs, watches, compasses, and other similar products. Due to U.S. regulations regarding radioactive substances, all of the above items can be legally sold in the U.S., as the manufacturers of such products require special licensing in order to integrate tritium into their products. The exception is for products that are regarded as having a “frivolous” use such as glow keychain fobs. (Note: restrictions are on the sale and not necessarily on the possession). As a result of these restrictions, TEC Accessories does not sell tritium, only a means to mount it into a fob for use as a marker light. Please be aware that tritium use in consumer products might be restricted or banned in some jurisdictions or countries.
WHERE CAN I PURCHASE TRITIUM VIALS?
There are several countries where tritium is commonly available, but some of these countries will not export tritium to other countries (in the UK for example). However, there are places where it can be obtained fairly easily. Usually tritium can be found on Amazon, these are typically dealers outside the US (i.e. China). Although it is illegal for Amazon to support sales of tritium on their site, it is somewhat similar to a game of whack-a-mole. If Amazon finds the listing and shuts it down, another will pop up until they are found again. Purchasing tritium on Amazon is fairly safe, most of these dealers are reputable and there is little risk of not receiving your order. There are also a number of other resellers of tritium vials from countries outside the US who sell either directly to consumers or through other marketplaces such as eBay. You can find them by easily by searching the Internet for "tritium vials". You can also check out this comprehensive Tritium Buying Guide from Ryan Susman which will include direct links to tritium sellers.
TEC ACCESSORIES DOES NOT SELL TRITIUM VIALS. IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL TRITIUM IN THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT A SPECIAL LICENSE. WE DO NOT HAVE, NOR CAN WE OBTAIN SUCH A LICENSE. PLEASE DO NOT ASK US TO PURCHASE OR INSTALL TRITIUM FOR YOU. WE WILL NOT DO IT.
INSTALLATION OF THE TRITIUM VIALS
Once you receive your tritium vial, it is a very simple process to mount it into the TEC Isotope fob of your choice. There is a diagram on the back of each product card or on our website which shows exactly how to install it. Although installation varies depending upon the model selected, generally you simply insert the vial(s) into the housing, and insert one of the included rubber plugs on top of the tritium vial.
CAUTION: DO NOT INSERT THE RUBBER PLUG WITH HIGH FORCE, THIS MAY BREAK THE VIAL
You only need enough force to get the plug to seat on top of the vial. Once the plug is in place, install the split ring or o-ring (depending upon Isotope model) which will prevent the plug or the vial from sliding out of the housing, and you’re done. Attach the fob for your intended purpose and enjoy the glow!
Our entire product line of Isotope Tritium Fobs