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This post is a continuation of: Tap vs. Distilled: Round 1.

Frustrated by the immediate findings in Tap vs. Distilled: Round 1, I decided to run another test in parallel, this time testing my guar hydration technique with two additional solutions. Edward has noted in several places that this is the most common issue with sludge. Based on the instructions in the Basic Mix page, I believed my hydration technique to be adequate, but thought that for any testing to be accurate going forward, I better get a handle on exactly how much agitation and attention I should be spending with each test batch to ensure that I wasn't confounding my own data by inadequately hydrating my guar.

The Test

Mix two guar solutions as per the recipe and procedures on Tap vs. Distilled: Round 1, but stop short of adding detergent and adjusting pH to avoid adding variables into the equation.

Use a consistant water source for each solution, and vary the amount of heat and aggravation between batches. Unfortunately, I was short on mixing vessels, and needed to chose only one water source. I chose tap water, as it is the water I have most experience with to date.

Preparation

I prepared all equipment as per Tap vs. Distilled: Round 1.

Two samples were created, both using 1L of Tap water, both using 1.5g of Guar Gum slurried in 15 mL of Glycerine. Note: No detergent or baking powder (or any other ingredient) was added to these samples.

Sample A

Sample A was mixed using hot tap water, and with moderate attention for the next 20 minutes, stirring for 30 seconds every 2 - 5 minutes.

Sample B

Sample B was mixed using water that was brought to boiling in the microwave and let to stop bubbling, and given a very high level of attention for the next 20 minutes, stirring constantly, and quite vigorously. I really beat the snot out of this batch to the point where my old elbow injury started to act up. Short of electromechanical mixing or the use of a more whip-like tool, I'm not certain how I could increase the agitation compared to what I put this batch through.

Sludge experiment1a 1 hydration 2

Sample A (left) and B (right).

Note the yellow tint in sample B. This was previously observed in Tap vs. Distilled: Round 1.

I moved each batch around to ensure that this wasn't some color-casting from the sun through my window. The color in each batch was different, and now we can surmise that it's not due to some difference in water samples. I can't lie - that makes me feel better about the quality of my water!

So then, where is the yellow tint coming from?

My best guesses at this point are that:

  • The higher temperature used in sample B discolors the guar in some way during hydration, or:
  • Hydrated guar in solution may change the color of the solution, slightly, and that the more yellow the solution appears, the better hydrated the guar is, or:
  • The ammount of air beaten into the solution has some effect on the color of the light refracting through it (I personally find this less plausible)

Edward explains that this is commonly observed and believed to be a byproduct of an interaction between Guar and certain ingredients, such as baking powder (where it appears non apparent with other ingredients, such as citric acid). It does not appear to have an effect on performance of the juice. I wonder if the overall pH of the solution is more to blame for this color shift, given that basic ingredients tend to show the color shift and acidic ingredients tend not to?

Observations

Time (approximate) Time (elapsed since mixing) Photo / Observations

9:30 pm

July 11

20 Minutes
Sludge experiment1 complete 5
Notes: Small amount of precipitate / gel / sludge in Sample A. Sample B seems to be suspended in solution at this time. Note the clarity difference in the two samples.

11:30 pm

July 11

2 Hours 20 Minutes
Sludge experiment1 complete 7
Notes: Significant amount of precipitate at bottom of Sample A. Sample A also appears to have clarified, somewhat. Sample B has now started to catch up in terms of gel production. Note the clarity in Sample B remains similar to the previous shot despite Sample B showing signs of precipitation / gelling.

2:00 am

July 12

4 Hours 50 Minutes
Sludge experiment1 complete 8
Notes: Further clarification of A, clarification of B, slight gel amount increase for both samples.

2:07 am

July 12

4 Hours 57 Minutes
Sludge experiment1a 7
Notes: Close up of sludge / sediment / gel in Sample B, showing the height of the 'hill'.

7:45 am

July 12

10 Hours 35 Minutes
Sludge experiment1 complete 11
Notes: Sample B seems to have clarified a little further. A seems to have come to an equilibrium of sorts.

7:00 am

July 13

33 Hours and 45 Minutes
Sludge experiment1 complete 12
Notes: No change in A, B seems to be slowing down as well.

9:45 pm

July 13

48 Hours 25 Minutes
Sludge experiment1 complete 13
Notes: Both samples have stopped producing new gel.
  • Both samples produced significant volumes of gel, despite the lack of baking powder in these samples. Not certain at this time what this indicates.
  • Note that sample B does seem to retain a higher concentration of the guar in solution than Sample A, lending further evidence to the heat + agitation = better/faster hydration findings that others have reported. As my previous samples in Tap vs. Distilled: Round_1 were prepared with significantly less agitation during hydration than Sample B, I will re-create those batches with a focus on agitation before moving into testing hard water comparisons.
  • I may also attempt using a stick blender or my standing blender to prepare another round of guar + water solutions to see how stable a mix I can create, this time using both tap and distilled water and consistent levels of agitation and heat.
  • Note the difference in volume of gel produced with guar+water alone vs. the solutions containing baking soda and detergent. I'm not certain what this might point to down the road - maybe the gel is produced differently under different pH conditions?

Shaking it Up

As per Edward's suggestion, I shook both solutions to further study the behavior of the gel.

Shaking Sample A

More Guar Bubble Solution Testing

More Guar Bubble Solution Testing

Shaking Sample B

More Guar Bubble Solution Testing (2)

More Guar Bubble Solution Testing (2)

As you can see, there is no precipitate / sediment per-se (unless I'm mis-understanding the difference between sediment and sludge) - this is the gel/sludge that I am experiencing in every batch of Guar juice I make. In batches that have baking powder + detergent, the gel is white, seemingly encapsulating / incorporating the corn starch sediment that Edward speaks about elsewhere on the wiki, and the gel seems to be produced in a lower volume in these mixes, but I'll revisit this article when I've had time to think and digest this (and after a good sleep).

Post Shaking

Sample A After Shaking and end-over-end turning:


Sludge experiment1a shake 6

Sample B After Shaking and end-over-end turning:


Sludge experiment1a shake 7





After several hours, the sediment/gel/sludge has started to settle back out.

Sludge experiment1a shake 8

And the following morning:

Sludge experiment1a 2 observation 8

Again, Sample B seems to show marked improvement over A in terms of keeping the guar in solution, as well as a much slower rate of settling / gelling. This makes me want to try using electromechanical means of agitation even more.

more Questions than answers..

It seems that the hydration technique used in my original testing was insufficient to produce a high level of guar hydration - I will attempt to find a means of producing consistent guar hydration before moving back to testing water characteristic (hardness, etc.) effects on the final solution. I expect that a consistant hydration process will allow for much better testing for other factors.

At the end of my first two guar experiments, I am left with more questions than answers, and some murky, sludgy, counfounded results.. but this is a good thing. Challenge accepted! More tests to come!

Thanks to Edward and other forum users for proposing tests and mechanisms by which the observed phenomena may be coming about. This community is an excellent source of information and fascination for me, and that wouldn't be possible without all of you working as hard as you have to suss out the facts. I am excited to continue to contribute to the cause in some small way, even if only to blunder my way through existing tests and further our evidence of existing findings.

Additional Reading Materials

I've been reading quite a bit of guar information and have found some interesting artciles / sources of knowledge:

I'm going to go over the Ashland document in higher detail to see if I can pull out some good info - it seems to be packed with it.


Questions

  • There is a noted difference between how guar in solutions with or without surfactants behave, as visible in the differences between this and my previous post. In previous non-documented batches using different surfactants or concentrations thereof, this result was again slightly different.
    • How is guar behavior affected by surfactant choice?
    • Do certain guar/surfactant pairings work better?
    • If so, why?
    • Is this what makes Dawn Professional the "Cadillac" of bubble juice detergents?
    • How might we exploit this behavior to further advance our guar based juices?
  • Does hydrating the guar for longer periods before adding other ingredients have any benefit to the final solution?
  • Does the use of "breakers" have any benefit or detriment on guar based juices?
  • Previous experiments by Edward and Thommy pointed to findings that heat + agitation make a marked hydration difference in the speed of the hydration in guar solutions, which is also evidenced here. It's worth noting that this doesn't necessarily point to the fact that the guar will be hydrated any better with heat + agitation, although results here seem to indicate that heightened agitation during the intial guar hydration does benefit the final solution. In those same articles, they have suggested that electromechanical means of agitation would ease the mixing process, but that it will likely not prevent sediment formation. Edward also points out that the extra work involved in heating the water doesn't yield much of a difference in terms of sediment formation, thus leading to the Quickest Mix method.
    • If a better or more consistant guar hydration result can be achieved using tap and distilled water, will differences these types become more apparent?
  • Does juice with less sludge/gel/sediment exhibit better bubble friendliness, self-healing, stretch, etc?
    • If so, at what point does the benefit of optimization of this guar hydration process / nullifaction of sludge/gel become non-apparent?
  • Does Cationic Guar Gum have different effects in bubble solutions than the standard non-ionic guar gum used?
    • If so, does cationic guar react more or less with existing water components or other juice ingredients?
    • Are further interactions beneficial or detrimental to the final solution?
  • And of course, the original question remains: What are the effects of calcium-hardness and other water characteristics on the final solution?
    • Do calcium or other mineral cations in the bubble solution actually cross-link with the guar gum as a factor in sludge generation?
      • If so, do different minerals cross-link differently in guar solutions to produce different results?
    • Can mineral/metal ion crosslinking be used to benefit bubble juices in the future?
  • How much text is too much text in a blog post? :P

Next Steps

I will optimize my means for achieving the best hydration result possible with the equipment at my disposal, and then will proceed to continue to test tap vs. distilled water to ascertain if the different water properties they exhibit will make any difference ot the final bubble juice. If we can rule out bad or inconsistent hydration, I believe the differences caused by water characteristics will become more apparent.

My office is travelling out to a recreation area this Friday for a day of fun in the sun (or rain, if the weather person is to be trusted). I've volunteered to produce mass amounts of bubble solution and composite tri-string wands to introduce my workmates to giant bubbles. I have our video department lined up to capture as much of the event as possible, and will post a non-scientific post after the event.

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