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  • Espiegel123

    Now that it looks like Non-Ultra Dawn may really be disappearing for good -- it still shows up on P&G's e-store but reports from around the country are that it is being replaced on store shelves by something called Non-Concentrated Dawn. Unlike both the currently available Non-Ultra and the currently available (in the SF Bay Area) Non-Concentrated Dawn, the word 'Classic' does not appear on the label. Perhaps, this is the same as the Non-Concentrated Classic Dawn with which I am familiar or perhaps Non-Ultra is just undergoing a name change. Or...?

    In any case, for a long time I have wanted to have a way to calibrate the relative strength/concentration of a detergent in order to better figure out how to substitute one detergent for another i…

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  • Thommy504

    Some details on my wands

    December 6, 2010 by Thommy504

    Just to provide some ideas on different wand material, sticks/poles and ways to attach your strings see following photos:

    Most of the wands are made of woven cotton cord with a polyester multifilament core:
    no.. is 3mm, no.2. is 2mm, no.3 are 5mm tri-strings. no.4 are garlands made of the 5mm cord.

    no.5 and 6 are tri-strings made of cotton/tencel (67/33%)medical tube (used to cover injuries) with a width of 1.5cm. With no. 5 I tried a double tube (pulled through itself) but it resulted way too heavy when full of bubble juice and not very willing to release the juice at a sufficient speed. The "eyes" in the wands for attaching them to the sticks are simply made using small cable ties. If used with the bamboo sticks below, the "eye" should be s…


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  • Espiegel123

    I have had a few inquiries about my preferred loop material for my tri-string wands. I have not experimented as widely as I would like, but so far I have found that lighter weight loops seem to work better and waste less bubble juice than thick absorbent materials that get very heavy when wet. I was surprised that a thirsty 1/4" 100% cotton rope produced bubbles no bigger than those created with homemade rope that was made from just 2 strands of cotton twine. (I'll blog at another time about how to make rope and string using nothing more than an electric drill, an eye hook and some hanger wire.) I might get a few more bubbles per dip with the heavier rope but the bubble size was not improved. It seems that while the amount of solution in t…

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  • Espiegel123

    On the web, there are tantalizing references to to Japanese laudry starches which contain PVA (vinyl alcohol -- not polyvinyl acetate) as an additive to bubble mixes. Some indicate (with pictures) that it improves bubble color and others report that it improves the strength of the skin.

    I have been in touch with several people that have explored PVA on its own as an additive and none found it worthwhile enough to pursue (some said it actually ruined their mixes). The one person that had good results was using Japanese Laundry starch rather than straight PVA. After an evening reading articles in scientific journals about laundry starch, it began to be clear that in laundry starch, the PVA works together with the modified rice starch. It occu…

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  • Espiegel123

    There has been some discussion about why PEO and HPMC (and HEC) affect bubbles the way they do. There has been some speculation that changes in surface tension may play into their effects. I have been looking for some simple ways of measuring surface tension and after evaluating the DIY methods, I decided to see if drop size was sufficient to detect changes in surface tension among solutions that have different characters.

    I used an eyedropper with marking at .8 ml and .4 ml that came with a package of infant Motrin. Below is a table that summarizes my findings tonight. The solutions with PEO and K15M (a type of Dow HPMC) used the amounts found in Jumbo Juice -- simply as a point of departure. I also did an abbreviated 'small wand test'. T…

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  • Espiegel123

    I finally got around to brewing up my first batch of Jumbo Juice -- the bubble juice used in the videos that first introduced me to giant bubbles.


    Dustin Skye's YouTube videos (which my friend Peter Miller turned me on to) were my first exposure to Giant Bubbles. For a long time, I have been interested in trying out his Jumbo Juice solution but have been so busy experimenting that I hadn't had time to order any of it. Last week, I went to his site to order some and discovered that he is no longer selling it over the web. Dustin, very generously, has always documented his formula--and really, his prices were so reasonable that for most people, it would be both more convenient and cheaper to get the Jumbo Juice from him rather than get all th…


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  • Espiegel123

    Dow's MethoCel 40-100 and 40-101 are types of HPMC with which I plan on experimenting. 40-100 has similar to viscosity to K15M but may have different flow or react differently than K15M. 40-101 is about 6.5 times more viscous than K15M. I have the cold-water dispersible versions of these polymers. I was curious to see if one could get these to hydrate and dissolve without using electrical equipment or modifying the pH. (For the 40 series, it is recommend to disperse the polymer in pH 7.5 water and then raise the pH to hydrate). Since I am just making small batches and am patient. I wanted to know if I could bypass using a mixer.


    The short answer is: yes.


    The tap water here (Redwood City, California) has a pH of 9.1. Since pH influences hydra…



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  • Espiegel123

    There has been some discussion on the Soap Bubble Fanciers list about the various methods that people use to mix the polymers (such as HPMC and PEO -- aka MethoCel and PolyOx) that are frequently used in making homemade bubble solutions. These are ingredients that tend to clump when added to water. So, people have devised a number of methods of coping with this behavior. Methods include mixing the powders together and then adding them to glycerine while stirring to create a slurry. Others use various types of mixers and may also make pH adjustments.


    Now, if making bubble juice on a large scale (i.e. if you are making it for commercial purposes), you need a method to mix up your brew in a time efficient manner. Since I am only making it for …


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  • Espiegel123

    While doing some research trying to find out more about the Japanese PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) containing laundry starch that is supposed to improve bubble color so much, I came upon the following abstract from a patent application at http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2006/0076539.html and I wonder if there are some clues here for making bubbles. My reading about the Japanese laundry starch is leading me to think that it is the modified rice starch + PVA that is responsible rather than PVA on its own -- as everyone that I have spoken to that has tried straight PVA as an additive has given up on it.

    Bubble solution formula and method of manufacture United States Patent Application 20060076539

    An improved bubble solution for use with bubble blowi…

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  • Espiegel123

    Earlier this summer I did some tests to compare Surgilube and KY-Jelly Type lubes as additives. Unfortunately, time prevented me from completing the study. So, one shouldn't draw too many conclusions from this data. I was comparing the performance of 6:1 (water:detergent) solutions with either Surgilube or a KY-Jelly type lube (in this set of tests CVS brand was used--past tests have shown the major brands of generic KY-Jelly seem to more-or-less identical with variations in performance not being detectable). The Small Wand test not only indicates how a solution will perform (with respect to bubbling ease) with small rigid loop type wands but also tends to indicate the relative ease with which bubbles can be closed off with larger tri-stri…

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  • Espiegel123

    So far, all of my testing has focused on various members of the Dawn family that are all related (Ultra Dawn, Non-concentrated Classic Dawn, Classic Dawn Non-Ultra, Dawn Pro Manual Pot & Pan). While these detergents behave somewhat differently from each other. Their response to additives like glycerine, surgilube, J-lube, etc. has been similar. For instance, while the number of bubbles created in my Small Wand tests by substituting these different dawns might differ between detergents, the relative change when changing the amounts of ingredients has been similar across types.


    With those detergents, straight detergent has (by a wide margin) outperformed equal parts detergent and glycerine. Tonight, after coming across an old posting in the S…


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  • Espiegel123

    Variation in Glycerine pH

    September 26, 2010 by Espiegel123

    A couple of months ago, I got an electronic pH meter and began testing the pH of the materials that I use in mixing up bubble "juice". The bottle of glycerine that I was using at the time (labeled as 100% vegetable glycerine) was measured at 5.6. This afternoon, someone wrote to me that their glycerine has a pH of 9.0. Since my measurement of 5.6 gibed with what was reported in a blog entry by respected bubbler Keith Johnson (where he recounted a conversation with the creator or Cricket Hill Powder who suggested that people don't use enough glycerine to balance the alkalinity of the current Dawn line of detergents), I assumed that glycerine was generally about 5.6.


    I happened to do a quick test involving Dawn Direct Foam and glycerine (whic…


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  • Espiegel123

    I have been trying to get a sense of the differences in surfactant content between the different dish soaps that I have been playing with in order for me to more effectively and efficiently try to come up with optimal bubble mixes for each. I am trying a number of approaches to the problem. One little experiment was just to see how much 'stuff' is in the detergents. So, I dehydrated approximately 20 grams each of Dawn Ultra (Classic Scent), Dawn Pro Pot & Pan and Non-concentrated Classic dawn.


    The samples were poured onto aluminum foil squares (that had been pre-weighed) and put in a 230 degree Fahrenheit oven until the liquid was gone. What was left was a waxy substance coating the foil. The detergent-coated foil was then weighed.


    The Dawn …



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  • Espiegel123

    Have you run into bubbles that fade from colorful rainbow bubbles to transparent ghosts?



    I have been exploring the characteristics of a bubble juice recipe suggested to me by a member of . His recipe is a mix of Dawn Pro Manual Pot & Pan (which I call Dawn Pot & Pan or DPP) and Non-Concentrated Classic Dawn (NCCD or NCD) with J-Lube, SurgiLube and glycerine. His recipe works quite well. I haven't been able to test it side-by-side with my current base recipe because weather conditions where I live (SF Bay Peninsula) have been too dry or too windy or both since I mixed up his recipe. But I have been intrigued by how it behaves on a wire hoop. So, I decided that I should start exploring NCD and Dawn Pot & Pan in my experiments since they are s…



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  • Espiegel123

    UPDATE IN PROGRESS -- I need to try a new test protocol to see if it will be more efficient for exploring this.


    As I read through various people's experiments and recipes and experiment myself with my own formulas, it is clear that you can't just substitute one detergent for another. So, I have been trying to figure out a way that one can find a way of comparing the relative amount of surfactants in a detergent which should at least help with finding the dilution to use as a point of departure. I tried dehydrating a few detergents -- and there is some promise but it probably is not a very accurate comparison because there is no guarantee that the amount of surfactant hidden in the other dry ingredients is going to be similar across the det…

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  • Espiegel123

    In my informal tests, it has been clear that various combinations of glycerine, KY-Jelly type personal lubricant (I am using generic knock-offs), J-Lube (see Ingredients) and/or SurgiLube have dramatic effects. I haven't yet systematically tested them to see which attributes alone and in combination. To date, the most prolific bubbling solution (with a small wand) has been equal parts (by volume) Dawn Ultra, glycerine, KY-Jelly (or a knockoff), and tap water. This solution also has dramatically longer lasting bubbles than any other solution tested.


    So, I am starting today to explore J-Lube.


    The mixture started as (by weight)

    6 ounces Redwood City tap water (unfiltered)

    2 ounces Dawn Pro Pot & Pan (which you can find at Smart & Final)


    I ran the …




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  • Espiegel123

    Tonight, I did the first multi-solution run-through of the test matrix The trial run was more of a proof of concept than anything else. See the Test Matrix article for details of the tests. This run-through did not include the bubble-in-bubble test. As noted in the table below, some of these solutions are just detergent and water. They were being tested for a baseline against which to compare them after having amendments added.



    The pictures below illustrate the size potential test run on each of the tested solutions. Hopefully, it demonstrates why the test is useful. A couple of things of interest turned up to me. Two fairly concentrated solutions (0607P and 0607U) were tested in concentrated and dilute form. You will notice that the dilut…


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  • Espiegel123

    I originally posted this in response to a question on the Soap Bubble Fanciers Yahoo group and realize that it might be useful here, too.

    Tri-string wands can be extremely primitive or elegant. I am using a very primitive wand and getting beautiful bubbles and tubes from just a couple of 48" dowels and some simple cotton twine. My first wand used 18-inch bamboo garden stakes and string. It is quite effective. Here it is:


    Sterling laid it out nicely on . Here are step-by-step instructions for a really primitive wand (which will work nicely).

    1. Get your handles/poles. They can be anything from chopsticks for a small wand to garden stakes to dowels to .... well just about anything. For small wands, bamboo garden stakes are handy -- they are cheap …

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  • Espiegel123

    I have been trying to come up with a standard test to measure relative longevity of bubbles. To do this, I am trying to keep the bubble size constant and easy to reproduce. To do this, I cut off the bottom of a plastic water bottle. The bottle's neck is dipped in the bubble juice and then the bottomless bottle is lowered into a jar full of water. The timer is started and we measure the time until the bubble pops.


    All was well and I tested quite a few solutions (5 dips per solution -- although it should really be more like 20 dips to get reliable stats but that would be too time prohibitive).


    The next night, I went to test the next batch of solutions plus one solution tested the night before so that it could be used as a standard against with…



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  • Espiegel123

    So far most of my homebrew recipes have focused on using Ultra Dawn since that happens to be what I started with and because my early explorations went well (which I didn't expect since Ultra Dawn is not well-regarded). A few weeks ago, I did a battery of small wand tests between Ultra Dawn and Non-concentrated Dawn at various dilutions (from 1 part water up to 8 parts water to 1 part detergent). In all the small wand tests, ultra dawn outperformed NCD.


    Tonight, I ran the size potential tests on those solutions and the story was very different. The NCD solutions were much stretchier than Ultra Dawn. None were to the level of amended ultra dawn solutions but NCD was at least three times as stretchy on average. And it didn't break when close …


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  • Espiegel123

    I have posted some highlights of some HD footage shot by my friend Nick of a recent bubble outing in front of the house. The bubble juice was a mish-mash of leftovers from some tests that I had done. I slowed the video down to 1/4-speed so that one can catch some of the beautiful details one misses at full-speed. Watch at full HD resolution if you can. You can download the video and/or watch in HD at http://www.vimeo.com/12355264


    The music is an excerpt of a piece I composed in MetaSynth. I plan on expanding the video as time permits.

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  • Espiegel123

    On Soap Bubble Fanciers, there has been a lot of discussion about how to best mix J-Lube with the other ingredients in a bubble juice recipe. There are a couple of issues:

    • The powder clumps when you add it to water and even with a lot of shaking some clumps will remain.
    • J-Lube is 75% sucrose and so a water/J-Lube solution will eventually ferment unless you sterilize it (which is easily done in the microwave). It is possible that the detergent in bubble juice will prevent fermentation -- but it is often convenient to mix up a straight J-Lube/water mix that you can add to bubble juice.
    • J-Lube in solution is very string and viscous and a bit of a hassle to work with.

    A few people have mentioned that if you let it set for a couple of days and shak…

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  • Espiegel123

    NOTE

    The test matrix is undergoing refinement and this page will be updated as progress is made.


    The test matrix is a series of tests that can be used to provide a fairly objective characterization of a bubble juice's characteristics. It is designed to give bubble-makers a concrete way to compare the various characteristics of bubble juices. It is intended to be especially helpful to experimenters in being able to identify the characteristics of a bubble juice using a fairly small quantity of bubble juice and without needing to perform large-scale outdoor tests during initial testing. It is not a substitute for testing outdoors with the equipment for which the bubble juice is intended, but it can help experimenters determine which bubble juic…


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  • Espiegel123

    I have done a lot of experimentation in the past month with various recipes and dilutions and taking a lot of notes. I keep thinking that one of these days I will sit down and put all the notes together and write a comprehensive summary of what I have learned so far. But there is always another experiment that I want to do before drawing any conclusions -- and the "tests" that I am using are still being refined. So, I feel like it is best to apply the refined versions of the tests to the solutions that I have put together.

    ... that being said ... I have found a recipe which so far has performed as well as (and probably better than) Cricket Hill Powder which many people think is one of the more consistent solutions for creating big bubbles. …

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  • Espiegel123

    After every bubbling session, I end up with some unused bubble solution that I can't bring myself to dump down the drain. The leftovers go into a jar labeled "mongrel mix". I have been doing a lot of experimentation with my own mixtures and store-bought bubble solutions in search of the perfect bubble mixture. (Veteran bubblers -- I am a newbie -- are laughing as they read this entry -- or they would if they were reading it.)

    Every time I go out bubbling (I am mostly having fun with a string wand with a 48-inch top string), I take some experimental mix of my own, a known solution, and my jar of "mongrel mix". Almost every time out, the mongrel mix performs better than any of the solutions that went into it -- including commercial solutions …

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