Bubble Formulae

H ere at the Exploratorium, we've found the bubble formula below to work fairly well in our exhibits.

  • 2/3 cup Dawn dishwashing soap
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of glycerine (available at the pharmacy or chemical supply house.)

New formula!

From "Marcia" in Canada I got the following formula which works for her:

  • 1 cup Ultra Ivory Blue
  • 12 cups water
  • 3/4 Tablespoon glycerine

G ently stir the ingredients together and leave the solution in an open container overnight. We believe that this gives the alcohol on the dishwashing soap a chance to evaporate some. In any case, the solution seems to get better with age. If you substitute some other soap for Dawn, you will have to experiment with the rest of the formula... but that's the fun of science!

F or long-life bubble solution I've tried the following with some success:

  • 1/3 cup commercial bubble solution (the stuff that comes with a wand)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup glycerine
A s you can see this is a much heaver solution with all that glycerine. I glue a watchglass to the bottom of a wide-mouth jar with hot-melt-glue (no solvents in hot-melt...) I then "paint" the watchglass with bubble solution to wet it. Using a bubble pipe (you can use a straw too), I blow a large bubble on top of the watchglass. I seal the jar with a stretchy wax sealer found in bio and chem labs. This comes in rolls and I stretch a piece over the top of the jar before screwing the lid on tightly. You must have a good seal or the liquid will escape slowly and the bubble will pop from evaporation. I sometimes carefully flip the bottle over and let the bubble hang upside-down. This allows it to drain. My longest lasting bubble survived for 3 months! This bubble never popped. It just got smaller and smaller as the higher pressure air inside the bubble slowly diffused through the film and escaped. The late Eiffel Plasterer (sorghum farmer, physics teacher, and master of the bubble) called this "dying the natural death" for a bubble. Eiffel's longest lasting bubble went for an incredible 342 days! I have a long way to go...

You may also want to take a look at the Bubble Wiki for more formulae.

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