Is there anyone with a soul who doesn’t love a soap bubble.
Endlessly fascinating, these simple shapes are beautiful, surprising, simple little things.
One of the most common questions on BIG chat is “what is the best recipe for great bubbles?:
The answer depends on what you want to do with them. But the following is a good rule of thumb
1 Part glycerine
100 parts washing up liquid
1500-2000 parts water.
By far the biggest ingredient is water. Bubbles are made of water, the detergent lowers the surface tension of the water making it more elastic.
A bubble film can be thought of as a sandwich. The filling is water, the bread is formed from the soap, the hydrophillic heads attracted to the water, their tails in the air.
If you add more soap to the mix you will reach the Critical Micelle Concentration where the detergent molecules move from the surface and form small units in the bulk of the water. This means increasing the amount of detergent wont actually affect your solution very much, as the extra detergent is just drawn into the micelles.
If your bubbles aren’t performing well, you can almost always improve things by adding more water. Bubbles will burst when the water evaporates, glycerine is added to slow this process down. For very long lasting bubbles, use more glycerine. Blow small bubbles and cover them with a lid. I have had bubbles last 30 minutes or more with this method.
For very large bubbles, use more water and increase the humidity by spraying water around the bubble.
I briefly held the world record for number of people in a bubble,
2 parts Glycerine
100 parts fairy liquid
2500 Parts water
The record is now 59 people and held by Dr Robyn Wheldon-Williams of Bangor University
The colour of bubbles is related to their thickness. As the bubbles becomes thinner and thinner, the colours will change. if you are lucky you may see a bubble turn black, as it becomes thinner than the wavelength of visible light. Try blowing bubbles over a light box to see rings of colours around a bubble.
You can fill bubbles with any number of gases, making flaming butane bubbles is fun, Helium bubbles that drift to the ceiling are awesome.
You can see the wonderful Mike Coles Blowing some CO2 bubbles here