Bubbling

When the wind isn't right for my kites, I keep busy blowing bubbles.

I am often asked what recipe I use for my big soap bubbles. When I was a kid it was just Dawn Dish Detergent, glycerin, and water but then Proctor and Gamble changed the formula of Dawn. Now a recipe to reliably make big to giant bubbles requires more effort. After a lot of experimenting with so - so results I finally found help on the web through the soapbubblefanciers yahoo group.

For lots of recipes, and information on how to find and best prepare the ingredients, visit the soap bubble wiki: http://soapbubble.wikia.com/wiki/Recipes Other pages of the wiki have information about how to make your own bubble wands too.

Not interested in mixing your own bubble stuff?
I have used the concentrate (just add water) sold by bigbubblestuff, it is good stuff! They have wands in many sizes too.




Are you looking for the bubble stuff recipe I use?
As of this update in May 2014, there are still two recipes I am using, but one much more than the other. Both make great bubbles so you can pick the one with ingredients that are available to you. I am finding the recipe with Guar Gum to just be easier, easy enough to mix more out in the field when needed.




Recipe 1 - uses Guar Gum
Note: Updated May 2014 to reflect research into the best time to add the baking soda and the citric acid

  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Citric Acid (or substitute 2 teaspoons Baking Powder for the soda and acid)
  • 3/4 Cup Dawn Pro Manual Pot and Pan Dish Detergent (or substitute 1 Cup Dawn Ultra)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Guar Gum - Bob's Red Mill brand
  • 2 Tablespoons 50% Ispoproyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • Tap Water to top off one gallon of bubble stuff - I sometimes use distilled water when I'm not sure about the mineral content of the local tap water

    1. Start by filling a gallon jug about half way with water, mix in Baking Soda.
    2. Measure the Guar Gum powder into a small plastic cup, stir in the Isopropyl Alcohol to form a slurry.
    3. In a two cup measuring cup, pour in about 2 cups of water, then while stirring to a vortex with a mini wisk blender, pour the Guar Gum slurry slowly into the moving water and mix until thickened. (Only 5 to 10 seconds mixing with my wisk blender.)
    4. Pour the Guar Gum/Water mix into the Baking Soda/Water mix.
    5. Pour in the Dawn Dish Detergent.
    6. Top up the gallon jug with water and mix gently to avoid making foam.
    7. Add the Citric Acid.

    This mix can be used immediately, but may improve with sitting overnight or even an hour or two. Using hot to very hot water can help to combine the ingredients and fully hydrate the guar gum more quickly.

    Note that this recipe uses simplified volume based measurements to make it easy. If you plan to scale up to a larger batch, you should look for a more precise weight based recipe on the wiki page. Much more info about this recipe can be found here: http://soapbubble.wikia.com/wiki/Recipes_Guar

    Here is a YouTube video demonstrating the preparation of a Guar Gum mix:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFXe_WAk5GQ

    Here is a YouTube video demonstrating the preparation of a simplified Guar Gum mix:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17lx_TzahpE






    Recipe 2 - uses "Brian's Lube Mix"

  • 3/4 Cup Dawn Pro Manual Pot and Pan Dish Detergent (or substitute 1 Cup Dawn Ultra)
  • 2 to 3 fluid ounces Brian's Lube Mix (BLM) - quantity adjusted as needed for weather conditions
  • 15 Cups tap Water to top off one gallon of bubble stuff - I use distilled water when I'm not sure about the mineral content of the local tap water
    note: The wiki pages can give you ideas about how to adjust the recipe for different soaps. Follow the link to read about the ingredients and mixing techniques for Brian's Lube Mix.





    Recipe 3 - Really Simple Recipe
    So, you're not interested in hunting down odd ingredients that you have to purchase in bulk? Below is a very simple recipe using stuff you can easily find in North America. (Other simple recipes can be found on the wiki page.) This is a recipe that Brian Lawrence hands out on a card to anyone that asks.

    His card says, "This is not the formula I'm using today. It's designed to work well, with ingredients that you can easily obtain at any grocery store or pharmacy. If you want the formula I'm using send me email and I'll tell you. The ingredients in it are a little harder to find."
    The formula on the card is:

    a 14 oz.bottle of Ultra-Dawn
    1 tube of "personal lubricant" - KY Jelly, or an equivalent like Equate brand at Walmart
    1 gallon of "pure" water

    In an empty gallon jug, add a little water, all the Dawn and personal lubricant and swirl it
    around. Fill the jug the rest of the way with water. Let it rest for a day.




    How to make a Garland Bubble Wand
    I have documented on the soap bubble wiki how to make a garland the way I do. My method of splicing the bottom line to the top one makes a nice smooth knotless garland that resists tangling when you dip it in the bucket.

    http://soapbubble.wikia.com/wiki/A_Tangle_Resistant_Garland_Design





    Tri-String Wands
    For big to giant bubbles I have a variety of Tri-String wands of different sizes and materials. A 36 inch Tri-String is a great place to start (it's common to describe the size of a tri-string by the length of the top string.) As your technique improves you'll find yourself yearning for bigger. Most of the time I use one that's about 50 inch. When conditions are great I get out a 72 inch. You can find lots of information on how to make your own here:
    http://soapbubble.wikia.com/wiki/Getting_Started_With_Tri-Strings


    images by Ed Spiegel