CFL is like a tube used in houses for lighting. It has mostly Argon gas with a small amount of mercury. When it is given 220V AC, electrons move in the gas and it ionizes the gas. The ions pick up electrons and it de-excite to give UV radiation. The radiation falls on the phosphor layer painted on the inner surface which produced visible whitish light.Even a small voltage can give rise to ionization and a light pulse can be obtained. This experiment shows this.
Charging and discharging of a Balloon.
A CFL, A Balloon.
Keep the CFL on the table. Take a balloon and inflate it.Tie the balloon. Rub it few times to your hair or a cloth. Bring the balloon close to the CFL. You are likely to see a flash in the CFL.
Ionization seems to be easy in a CFL. The process has to be understood.