It is possible to create long tubes and large free-floating bubbles even with relatively lightweight low-capacity wicks.

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A 30+ foot unclosed tube created with a two-strand twine top-string and single strand bottom.

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Close-up of a single strand of soda-washed Bed, Bath and Beyond cooking twine.



2013 08 08 Twine Loop Demo Montage

2013 08 08 Twine Loop Demo Montage

Here is video of a session with pretty good conditions and a very lightweight loop. I didn't make any attempt to close most of the bubbles as I just wanted to get a feel for the capacity of the loop. Most of the bubbles are made using a standard guar-based bubble juice. This is great bubble juice, but there are bubble juices with much higher size potential. There are a few bubbles at the end made with HECP juice which has higher size potential (at least where tube length is considered).

Single-strand all around (guar juice)

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Single strand twine loop and guar-juice.

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Single-strand loop and guar juice

Double-Strand Top (guar juice)

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Double-strand top. Guar Juice.

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Double-strand top (guar juice)

Double-strand top (HECP juice)

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Double-strand top (HECP juice)

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Double-strand top. HECP juice with a little extra detergent (hence the thinner film you see on the left side of the tube.


Lightweight Loops - Big Bubbles

When exploring big bubbles, it is common for people to seek out highly absorbent material to use for their tri-strings. And, if their bubbles disappoint, they often seek more absorbent materials or heavier materials in the belief that more juice-holding capacity will lead to bigger bubbles.

Oftentimes, maybe even most of the time, wick capacity (loop capacity) is not the cause of the disappointing results. People overestimate the importance of capacity but underestimate the role of a loop's release characteristics have and the role of environment and bubble juice.

If environmental factors are poor, any combination of high or low temperature, low humidity, high particle count, chemical contaminants, and high wind, can get in the way of making bubbles. A setup that can make a 50-foot tube under exceptional conditions might not be able to make even a 1 foot diameter bubble under poor conditions.Sometimes conditions look good on paper, but the bubbles don't work out -- usually due to some unknown problem (unusual particulates or momentary disruption of water quality).

With decent juice and decent conditions, you can make pretty big bubbles with a loop made from just a single-strand of high-quality cotton twine (string). Soda-washing that twine helps a lot, but even without it, you can make some nice bubbles.

Single strand loop

The base loop (non-modular) used for these bubbles. For some an extra strand was clipped an additional a top-string.

The bubbles on this page were all made with a base loop made from a single strand of soda-washed twine. The top-string is 33" across (84 cm) and the bottom string is 66" (168 cm). For many of the bubbles on this page, I clipped on an additional 33" strand of twine to the top-string that had split rings on either end. (See Modular Tri-String Loops to see details of my wand's rigging).

With this size loop, even larger bubbles are possible with different materials. However, if you are not achieving results like these, I would recommend debugging your setup with a loop like this rather than a heavy, drippy loop.

There are some advantages to lightweight, medium-capacity loops such as this:

  • juice consumption is much lower than with higher-capacity loops while only giving up some capacity
  • closing bubbles is often easier with these loops
  • you can 'tune' the loop's capacity by adding additional strands to the top and bottom as needed either by clipping on addition top or bottom strings or by making custom cord -- which is very easy to do at home. (See Rope and Cord Making)

My recommendation for getting started is to start with lightweight medium-capacity loops that are friendly and work on improving capacity once you have your juice working well and can reliably make nice bubbles.

Capacity and Length

Sometimes the maximum tube length is more of a function of the juice and conditions than the wick's capacity. If the soap film has a particular longevity (which may be related to the stress of growing the bubble), the tube length may be more of a function of the soap film than the loop's capacity. I believe (though I could be wrong) that is why we don't see doubling the top-string having a big impact with this nice guar juice but we do see an increase in potential when using the HECP juice.

Capacity and Size

Most people do not realize how little bubble juice even the most massive bubble requires. A 6-foot diameter bubble (which is pretty massive) requires only 3 to 4 ml. of typical bubble juice. If the solution is very dilute it might need twice that much solution. (Very dilute solutions create much thicker films than solutions with a lot of detergent. See Color and Film Thickness and also Dilution)

A 30 foot (9.1 meters) tube 3 feet (.9 meter) in diameter needs only about about 8.3 ml. of typical bubble juice (up to twice that of a very dilute solution). A 33-inch top-string wand is probably creating a bubble closer to 2 feet in diameter -- so much less than 8.3 ml is needed.

The single strand loop dry (including the .63 gram weight of the split rings is 4.02 grams. After dipping in bubble juice and 5 seconds of dripping (during which period several grams of bubble juice drip off), the loop has 23 grams of juice in it. After squeezing the loop, 4 grams of juice are left. That makes about 19 grams of juice available to the bubble -- far more than is needed for a 30-foot tube!

The top string (with split rings) is 1.82 grams. The single strand top-string contains about 4.7 grams of juice after letting the excess drip off for 5 seconds. When wrung out, that strand has about 1.6 grams of juice still in it. So, let's say it has about 3 grams of useful capacity (i.e. the 4.7 grams - the 1.6 grams left after being wrung out).

Juice Note

If you are mostly concerned with long tubes and not with longevity or color stability, juice that has a bit more detergent than I usually use can achieve longer tubes when used with the right combination of materials.

Tips for Using Twine

Shrinking and soda-washing the twine helps a lot.

If you can't find the nice Bed, Bath and Beyond cooking twine, you can use any cotton twine though it might not work quite as well. Try using two to four strands for the top and from one to three for the bottom. The top-string has a bigger influence than the bottom (see: Composite Tri-String Loops.

If you can't find twine, try using T-Shirt Yarn.

Interpreting Size

To understand the size of what you are seeing, take a look at this article which shows the relevant distances.

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