I discovered the magical world of soap bubbles in 2010 when I ran out of the dimestore bubble solution that I was using to entertain my then 18 month-old son. I vaguely remembered from high school (in another century) that one could make bubble solution from detergent, water and glycerine. I went online to find the proportions and discovered giant bubbles and bubble art that I had no idea existed. I also found a wealth of contradictory information. I started this wiki in the hopes of creating a centralized resource for people interested in soap bubbles. A place where novices and experts alike will find information to enrich their bubbling experiences.
The goal here is to have the information be fact and experiment-based. If you have a question about the correctness of anything you read here, let me know. While I try hard to be a rigorous experimenter and to confirm the information here, errors can happen -- and my goal is to correct errors when they are found and to revisit past experiments when new information brings old conclusions into question.
Since 2010, I have performed countless experiments whose results inform all that you read. When I first began I intended to share my lab notebooks as part of the blog project but quickly found that turning my lab notebooks into something
When I began bubbling (2010), most bubble juice recipes in use did not make use of any sort of pH adjustment or buffering and most were quite detergent heavy (the equivalent of Dawn Pro at 13:1 or even lower dilutions: 8 to 1 was not uncommon). My bubble friends and I spent a lot of (wasted, we now know) trying to determine if 11:1 or 12:1 or 13:1 was better. When I asked people (even longtime bubblers) what was different about juice at different dilutions, I'd get shrugs. "I don't know, dilution X works better." Sometimes there would be a comment that they got more or fewer bubbles per dip or some such. People would talk about polymers that made the colors "better" but couldn't say what "better" meant. So, I and a few others formed an informal workgroup at a distance, coming up with experiments and confirming or confounding each others' conclusions.
I think that we have made some valuable contributions which have now become part of the mainstream DIY bubbling.
A lot of what he discovered was the indirect result of our puzzling over Lionel Stanhope's extremely dilute bubble juice recipe: something like 40:1. At that time, we thought of David Stein's 16:1 recipe and Mike's Gooey Mix (at about 19:1) as being extremely dilute.
This series of explorations led directly or indirectly to a few key findings (or perhaps discovery of facts already well known to scientists but not bubblers):
- that dilution has a big impact on bubble wall thickness,
- that with a great detergent like Dawn Pro or Charmy, the Power of Suds, that range of usable dilutions is much larger than people were using,
- that you can crank up the longevity of bubbles in dry conditions by cranking up the dilution,
- that pH adjustment can influence film thickness,
- that some detergent is influenced more strongly by pH adjustment (i.e. Charmy) than others,
- that pH adjustment can influence some ineffable qualities that I'll call bubble-friendliness and bubble strength (though it may not be strength at all),
- that viscosity is not inherently related to a bubble wall's thickness,
- that bubble color (which tells you about film thickness and detergent concentration) is an invaluable diagnostic
- that guar gum can be the basis of a first-rate bubble juice
Together, we came up with the first guar gum-based bubble juice recipe so that it would be easier for people to make bubble juice with locally available ingredients (instead of relying on J-Lube or PolyOx WSR-301 which are generally not available at your local supermarket. If you find a guar gum-based recipe, it owes it origin (directy or indirectly) to the recipe we published here -- which also owes some improvements to people who have shared their experiences with us.
Check out my big bubble rigs.
Leave a message on my talk page if there are things that you would like to see or changes that you would like to suggest.
Please join our effort if you feel you have something to add. Contributors are welcomed.