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 the ingredients and equipment that you need to make your own.
For me, one of the daunting things about his recipe is that it is for making enough concentrate to make around 35 gallons of bubble juice. I don't go through juice very fast. So, last night I sat down with his recipe and a spreadsheet program and calculated the recipe for enough concentrate to make about 1 gallon of bubble juice.
Now, there is a drawback to this approach. The recipe makes use of three very powerful polymers that are used in very small quantities. When measuring such small quantities, measurement error is likely to be a much larger percentage of the amount used than if using larger amounts of the ingredients. (I.e. if you are off by .1 gram in this version of the recipe that would be an error of 25% of the PEO used -- whereas an error of 0.1 gram on a full batch would be less than 1 percent)
I accidentally made one error when mixing up the concentrate that I hope will not end up being consequential. The recipe calls for the use of distilled water when mixing up the concentrate--but I used tap water.
Next time, I will make a larger batch (to reduce inaccuracy introduced by small measurement error when weighing the dry ingredients) and remember to use distilled water. Below is the recipe that I used tonight. The quantities used are 1/32 of the quantities in the full recipe. There are a few slight departures that I had to make from the original recipe. In the original recipe, the distilled water was measured in fluid ounces (volume). Since I don't have an accurate way of measuring 4.63 fluid ounces, I measured by weight instead (1 fluid ounce of water weighs very close to 1 ounce -- precisely 1.043 oz).
This version of the recipe makes about 16 fluid ounces of concentrate which weighed 487 grams. By my calculations, this should be mixed with between 121 ounces to 136 ounces of water. This is the equivalent of using from 16 oz. to 18 oz. of concentrate for each gallon of added water (which is the range suggested in the original recipe).
1.02 grams HPMC K15M (Dow). Mine is not cold-water dispersible.
0.92 grams food grade Xanthan Gum (this can be found at Whole Foods in the Baking Section)
0.4 grams PolyOx WSR-301 (Dow Chemical's version of PEO)
4.63 fluid ounces distilled water. (I used 4 5/8 oz. by weight of tap water) [NOTE: the equivalent by weight is 136.93 grams or 4.82 oz by weight. Since there is leeway in reconstituting. This shouldn't make much difference.]
12 fl. ounces of Dawn Pro (Manual Pot & Pan) detergent
0.46 ounces (by weight) of glycerine. The recipe calls for .38 fl. ounces. Which I calculated to be .46 ounces by weight since glycerine is about 1.2 times as dense as water.
Mixing it Up
I measured the dry ingredients and mixed them together. I poured them into the glycerine as I stirred with a enamel-coated chopstick to make a slurry.
I then added a little bit of the detergent at a time to the slurry which turned into a pretty cool slime. When I had added about 1/3 of the detergent, I added the mix to the remaining detergent and stirred well. Lastly, I stirred in the water. The mix is quite viscous. I did all the mixing using a metal spoon and the chopstick.
I poured the mixture into a clean empty water bottle. It is well mixed but one can see polymer 'ghosts' which I suspect will disappear over the next day or two as hydration completes--if this follows the pattern that I have seen with PolyOx and HPMC on their own. I expect to put this to use early next week.
In the original recipe, it is suggested to use a paint mixer attachment (which costs only a few dollars) attached to an electric drill. Since I did not use an electric mixer, the mix may take a little longer to become uniform than if I had done electric mixing.
To mix the concentrate up with Dustin's specs, the concentrate should be added to between 7 and 8 times its weight in water.
The day after brewing, I noticed that there was a tiny amount of slightly beige stuff which is a bit of Xanthan that has hydrated byt not completely mixed. My past experience has shown that Xanthan will normally fully-hydrate and distribute itself over a couple of days--but that was when mixing with water. It is possible that this might behave differently. I'll keep an eye on it. Other than that, the other ingredients are fully-incorporated and distributed. The viscosity seems even and there aren't any visible "ghosts".
Oct. 12 (three days after brewing).
The small amount of Xanthan 'sludge' has gone down over the days since I brewed the juice. But there was still a little there. So, I mixed the bottle (by doing end over end turning until the mix looked uniform) and then poured the juice into smaller containers so that the 'sludge' is evenly distributed into a 4.25 oz bottle (that will be added to about a quart of water), 2.25 oz. bottle and one 8 oz bottle (which will be mixed with about 2 quarts of water).
That left enough 'brew' in the pint bottle (56 grams -- a hair under 2 ounces) to mix up just under a pint. I added 400 grams water (7.14 times as much water as concentrate) to the 56 grams of concentrate. Due to the water in the concentrate, that yields a water to detergent ratio of about 10.4 to 1 if my calculations are right. (They are off by a little because of rounding errors and my treating fluid and solid ounces of water and detergent the same which is not quite right -- but should be in the ballpark.)
Oct. 17 - mixed up some more of the concentrate. Once mixed, the solution is uniform. No sign of the sludge. The bubbles were beautiful and long-lasting but I didn't have time to do side-by-side comparisons of J Juice bubbles and anything else -- so, I don't know if it performed better than my 'standard' mix, but it definitely created nice bubbles. Temp. lower 60s (Fahrenheit) and humidity about 65% with very little breeze. I was using two 48-inch top-string tri-string wands. One with a single strand of cotton twine and another with a 1/4 thick cotton rope. The bubble size was about the same with either wand. The only advantage of the thicker more absorbent rope was a few more bubbles per dip. But, the single strand of twine seemed easier to maneuver and less likely to cause problems when closing the bubble.
I am finding a subtle PEO-related stringiness in the solution. I am inclined to do an experiment with brew with a bit less PEO and a it more HPMC (in separate experiments I am finding that HPMC at this concentration has very subtle effects compared to higher concentrations).
Thanks again to Dustin for letting me post the formula here. Please note that the recipe is his intellectual property.