Sometimes nothing works
Today is one of those days that I have heard people talk about but hadn't experienced myself. Nothing worked. On paper, this was a good day to test. 60% humidity. 65F. Mild breeze. But....POP POP POP.
[Don't quit reading -- or you will miss the bouncing bubbles]
At first, I thought that it was just because the dilute solutions (16-to-1 and 20-to-1) I was testing were no good. (They might be no good but that is another story). This morning was my first attempt at using very dilute solutions for creating giant bubbles. I started with 20-to-1. POP...POP..POP ... Nothing lasted more than few seconds. I tried the 16-to-1 solution (with my HEC mixes that is a nice dilution): POP POP POP
It was clear that it didn't make sense to spend more time with those solutions. I had some of my go-to standard PEO-based recipe and... POP POP POP
Unfortunately, I didn't have any of my HEC-mix on hand and there wasn't time to mix one up. So, I have no idea if it would have fared better.
Things were behaving as if there were 30% humidity. [NOTE: I put this to a test a few days later when we had 30% humidity -- same result with the PEO solutions but the HEC mix did pretty well -- although bubbles were much shorter lived than usual -- so no 50 foot tubes.
Ever since I started playing the the HEC-based solution that uses 16 parts water per part detergent, I have wanted to find a similarly dilute PEO-based recipe since in theory PEO is better "stuff" (at the very least much smaller quantities are need to make water/detergent solutions more bubble friendly). I have tried a few 16-to-1 and 20-to-1 dilutions and am not having a lot of luck. It is not entirely clear whether the poor performance so far is due to my not having found the right amount of PEO for these dilutions or if it is environmental factors as even my go-to solutions haven't worked well the last few days (I am writing this on April 3 -- the session in the videos was March 29). My 'standard' PEO-based recipe which normally does well (a lot of the videos on the site were made with it) performed somewhat better but was also quite poppy. Unfortunately, I didn't have any of my HEC-mix on hand and didn't have time to mix one up as time was short.
I tried 20-to-1 and 16-to-1 water/Dawn Pro dilutions with .005% PEO (from J-Lube) and .008%. Neither combination worked very well. Bubbles were popping after a few seconds. The humidity was 60% and the air temp 65F with only a mild breeze. These are usually good conditions where I live (which is dry most of the year). However, the bubbles were popping like it was 30%.
However, in the midst of all this, there was a sequence in which bubbles seemed to bounce of the bone dry ground. Perhaps there was a layer of very cold air on the roadway that cushioned them.
Here is how my 'standard' 11-to-1 Water/Dawn Pro recipe fared. thumb|640px|left|Normally reliable recipe
20 parts tap water per 1 part Dawn Pro. 0.005% (more or less) PEO added via a J-Lube/water soluiton (that has 0.79% PEO -- which is about the same amount found in BLM) thumb|left|640px|20 to 1 Solution. .005% PEO by weight.
Same PEO percentage as the 20-to-1 dilution.
Since these tests were done, I have also tried at 2 and 4 times the amount of PEO with similar bad luck. I don't know if PEO solutions need help when the water/detergent ratio is high or if they just don't like high dilutions.
NOTE (4/6/2011): Adding baking soda and citric acid seems to help the dilute solutions considerably. I will add a blog entry of the improved dilute mix soon.
To be continued...