Vampires and Sunlight

Sunlight has long been known to be the most effective method of destroying vampires - Science, Application.


In certain circumstances, magnesium can be an explosive element; this means that no vampire will risk direct sunlight for fear of spontaneous combustion.

solar intensity vs wavelength; graph.

Recent forensic evidence suggests that vampire perspiration contains magnesium-based substances which are liable to combustion in certain conditions, including high air temperature (greater than 42oC) and specific light wavelengths 560-580nm; when illumination is above 5cd/m2 (solar intensity above approximately 500W/m2). In effect, this means direct sunlight around dawn and dusk or a 'bright' day, even with substantial cloud cover1. The 'smoking vampire', as seen on TV [Angel and Buffy], when the vampire exposes themselves to briefly to sunlight at the margin, is a real possibility. Conversely, a vampire could certainly venture out into Piccadilly at noon on a drab winter's day, provided he first checked the cloud cover.


Artificial light can be used to destroy vampires, but the correct frequency is vital, and the required brightness would be difficult to achieve other than in a fairly small enclosed space. Hunting by night, even with a battery of spotlights (as featured in the movie The Little Vampire), would be almost certainly be doomed to failure, and might prove foolhardy.

Sunlight has been used effectively since long before formal records have been kept2, and has been shown to be the simplest, surest and safest method of vampire destruction3.

The risk lies in the methods used to force the vampire into daylight; attacking a vampire at rest during the day is a challenge that has attracted many novel approaches; a courageous woman, prepared to risk her life in distracting the vampire until daybreak features in legend, and was first - and beautifully - portrayed in the movie Nosferatu.

A combination of crossbow, harpoon and winch was effectively utilised in John Carpenter's movie Vampires; dragging the vampires from their sleep kicking and screaming into the daylight - but not without some failures and human casualties. While the sunlight did not let them down, the weapon design could have been better!

When the vampire cannot be brought to the light, the light can be brought to the vampire; coffin opening as a plot device has featured heavily in the lower-budget horror movie, but persuading a vampire to sleep anywhere near direct sunlight might be problematic in the real world.

Vampires, unsurprisingly, have a mortal fear of sunlight; this fear alone can be crippling, albeit briefly, and was nicely illustrated in the original movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


  1. Halocene, G.J., (2002) Throwing Light On Vampires; Fixing the Frequency. Cryptozoology Research 38; 4, 56-63.
  2. Stoker, Bram, Dracula. Doubleday & McClure, New York, 1899.
  3. Scrimp, J., (1937) Vital Statistics; Killing and Casualties 1900-1935 Vampyr Notes. 21; 4, 33-36.