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Summer Fun With Giant Bubble Recipe!

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Bubbles and summer go hand in hand. On a warm summer evening, my daughters and I love to head outside for bubble play. Bubbles are good, clean fun but do you know the science behind the bubble?

The lifespan of an average bubble is mere seconds, but there is a way to extend the life of a bubble. All you need is a few secret ingredients and you’re on your way to being a real bubbleologist.

Super Bubble Recipe
– 1 cup Distilled water
– 2 tbsp Dawn® dish soap
– 1 tbsp glycerin
– Pair of cotton gloves
– Bubble wand or pipette

A little about the ingredients –

Water is the single most important part of the bubble solution. Good quality water that does not contain high levels of iron or minerals is best. If you’re uncertain as to the quality of your tap water, invest in a gallon of distilled water from the grocery store.

When it comes to soap, Dawn® dish soap just seems to work the best for homemade bubble solutions.

Glycerin is the secret additive that will give your bubble extra strength. Adding glycerin keeps the water from evaporating and makes the bubbles much stronger and longer lasting. Try not to be shocked by the price on a bottle of high quality glycerin. Contact the pharmacist at your local grocery store for availability. (Note: Some bubble recipes substitute Karo® Syrup for glycerin due to the expense and availability of glycerin.) Also, like fine wine, bubble solution improves with age. If you can, leave the mixture in an open container for at least one day before using it.

Cotton gloves are needed not to protect your hands but to protect the bubble from the dirt and oil on your hands. Dirt and oil particles are the greatest enemies to bubbles and break down the soap film. The cotton gloves will protect the bubbles and help them survive a little longer. Bounce the bubbles off your gloves or sleeve. Then try touching it with your skin.

Standard bubble wands work great and they come in a variety of sizes and shapes for your bubble creating enjoyment. You can use all kinds of household items for bubble wands. Spatulas or slotted spoons make fun bubbles. Pipettes with the tip of the bulb end cut off are fun individual bubble blowers. Be creative and look around your home to find some items that you think will work and experiment. It’s part of the fun.

Some interesting scientific information on bubbles –

Bubbles form because of the SURFACE TENSION of water. Hydrogen atoms in one water molecule are attracted to oxygen atoms in other water molecules. They like each other so much, they cling together. Normal bubbles enclose the MAXIMUM VOLUME OF AIR with THE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF BUBBLE SOLUTION, so they are always round.

A bubble is a minimal surface structure, meaning it will hold the air inside it with the least possible surface area. A sphere has the least surface area for any given volume of any other shape.

When you stretch your bubbles across contraptions like a hula hoop, bubbles cling to the sides as you dip into the solution. It makes the bubbles all sorts of shapes. The surface tension of water, alone, is TOO STRONG to make good bubbles, ADDING SOAP REDUCES THE SURFACE TENSION. It also adds oily film that slows down the evaporation process, so you get longer-lasting bubbles!

You can’t color a bubble. We see the colors in a bubble through the reflection and the refraction of light waves off the inner and outer surfaces of the bubble wall, similar to the way we perceive the colors in a rainbow or an oil slick. You can’t color a bubble since its wall is only a few millionths of an inch thick. A bubble reflects color from its surroundings.

For more on the science of bubbles and how to make giant bubbles and square bubbles, visit us at SteveSpanglerScience.com.

Or visit the new Bubbles exhibit at the Denver Children’s Museum for hands-on bubble activities.

Guest blogger Susan Wells is the mom to two girls, ages 4 and 8. She enjoys enriching her daughter’s education by finding the learning in everything. They especially enjoy science activities. She works as a blogger and social media strategist for Steve Spangler Science, a Colorado company dedicated to helping teachers and parents get children excited about science.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck June 30, 2010

    I could take stock out for how much money I’ve spent on bubbles. Seriously. And for sub-par bubbles at best. I’m so excited to try out this recipe!

  • comment avatar Kagey June 30, 2010

    The glycerin really is the key to the better bubbles. My mom found this big bubble maker – a cloth loop on a stick with a slider, so you could “open” and “close” the bubble you’re making – and you could get okay bubble with just Dawn & water, but we would get these monster things that would float for nearly a minute when we added the glycerin.

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck June 30, 2010

    So, glycerin needs to be bought at a pharmacy?

  • comment avatar Susan July 5, 2010

    You can find it at a pharmacy or at SteveSpanglerScience.com http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/product/1325

  • comment avatar Pirate33 January 6, 2011

    Very good info for fun with the kids from the experts -thanks pirate!

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