1. You need a good big bubble mix.
Most big bubble artists and big bubble aficionados make their own homemade “Brews”, as they are often referred to. These secret recipes are closely guarded and rarely shared with outsiders.
On the other hand, there are some terrific big bubble recipes available on the internet. I encourage you to discover these on your own, experiment with them, add your own twists, and then share your results with us, or on your own blog or website.
Of course you can purchase beeboo® Big Bubble Mix. This is the exact same product we used to set the first world record for largest free floating soap bubble. Many folks mix beeboo® with our new big bubble concentrate WhatABubble™ to create their own blend of big bubble solution. Experiment, try them both!
2. Let your mix “Age” overnight.
Many homemade big bubble recipes recommend glycerin as one of the main ingredients. Glycerin is a benefit in a big bubble formula for a number of reasons, which include, reducing the rate of evaporation, creating a thicker solution, and therefore allowing larger bubbles, that last a long time. It has become common knowledge in the big bubble world that if you let your solution sit, or age overnight, the resulting solution tends to perform better. There are many reasons for this, but in basic terms, chemical reactions take time at ambient temperatures. You may improve performance of your homemade brew or commercially purchased big bubble mix, by allowing the solution to age overnight in the refrigerator. Cold water is more viscous than warm, and you want your big bubble solution to be viscous. That’s why the refrigerator helps.
Extra additives help in creating a good big bubble formula. These can range from common household items like baking soda, to much more exotic chemistries like ethyl cellulose or methyl cellulose. Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). Baking Soda works well in big bubble solutions for two reasons. One, it adds alkalinity to water. pH is a measure of how much acid or base is in a substance. A neutral pH is considered to be 7. Skin has a pH of about 6. Battery acid has a pH of 1. Soap formulae are typically alkaline or have a pH above 7, close to 8 or even 9. In fact, that’s how soap was first made. You combined animal fat with lye, in a process called saponification. Water has a balance of carbonate and bicarbonate alkalinity. As a water chemist, I could write an entire blog, just on this subject alone, but I will refrain, at least for the time being. Suffice it to say that adding a little more bicarbonate alkalinity to the water of your big bubble solution is a good thing. As for the cellulose additives, you can find good information on the internet, and you can even find these products in many common items like food, personal care products, and many more. I have a habit of reading labels. Take the time and read the ingredient labels of common items in your home. You’ll be surprised to see how many contain the cellulose additives described above. Cellulose additives are good for emulsifying, thickening, increase surface tension, and probably even reduce the rate of evaporation in big bubble formulae so your big bubbles last longer.
4. Good, clean water.
All of the big bubble formulae offered at Extreme Bubbles are recommended to be diluted with common tap water. “Back in the Day”, when there were no commercially available big bubble formulas, you had to make your own at home. At that time, distilled water was the water of choice for most, if not all of the homemade recipes. Surfactant, detergent and soap technology has advanced so far in modern times, it is typically not necessary to use distilled water any longer. What is important is a good source of clean water. We don’t have that as a problem in this country, but believe me, there are places in the world where you can’t even use tap water for making bubble solutions! For example, beeboo® is sold and shipped to every continent in the world, except Antarctica. (I expect some day to get an inquiry and order from there. We use to make beeboo® big bubbles in the winter in Minnesota. At 30 degrees below zero, ambient temperature, the big bubble freeze instantly! They float around looking like shattered glass, but that is another blog). Once again, I diverge. Pardon me. Back to clean water. We did a direct test one time with clean tap water used for diluting beeboo® and compared it to tap water in Shanghai. The tap water in Shanghai is so polluted, it actually affected the performance of beeboo® Big Bubbles! We were still able to make big bubbles, but performance was affected in a negative way. For example, you couldn’t get as many big bubbles with one dip as you could with clean water. The polluted water bubbles were much more fragile and they didn’t last as long as the clean water bubbles. Here are the pictures of beeboo® in Shanghai:
If your tap water is suspect, there are still a few things you can do to make it useable. Let each gallon of tap water sit out, uncovered over night. If there is an excessive amount of chlorine in the water, this will allow much of the chlorine to flash off, or evaporate. You can try mixing the container of tap water a few times as well, to hasten the process. This may also allow time for any particles suspended in the water to settle to the bottom of the water container. By letting the tap water sit out over night, the air water interface may also help precipitate some soluble iron that is present in the tap water. Once oxidized, the iron will drop to the bottom of the tap water container.
5. Contamination from bubble buckets and bubble containers.
On very rare occasion, we get a call or an email saying “My big bubbles don’t work!” Upon further investigation, we discovered the bucket used to mix the big bubble formula was contaminated! The bucket had been used for scrubbing or mopping floors, and hadn’t been properly rinsed out. Many heavy duty cleaning products, including bleach, are very harmful to big bubble solutions. One person had used the bucket to store chlorine disinfectant tablets for the swimming pool. They decided to make some big bubble solution and didn’t rinse out the bucket properly. The result was they couldn’t make a big bubble, not even one!
6. Contamination from hands.
Insect repellant, hand creams, suntan lotions and even some perfumes can react with bubble solution and cause poor performance.
7. Dust, pollen, insects, and pollution.
When anything dry touches a bubble, it will pop. Things as small as a piece of dust or pollen will pop the biggest bubbles! These are often the unseen forces that will pop your big bubbles when just the day before you where making monster size bubbles that would last and last. Therefore, one of the best times to create monster size bubbles is right after a rainstorm. If there was lightening, the ozone generated is the perfect way to purify the air. Plus of course the rain itself helps “Wash Out” the dust, pollen and even some insects.
8. Dry air.
Sometimes the air is so dry that big bubbles are almost impossible. Adding a little more water to your solution may help. As little, as in an extra ¼ or ½ cup of water can make a big difference. I know this may sound counterintuitive, but by adding more water to your big bubble mix, you are adding more water to the bubble itself. With extremely dry conditions, the extra water may be required to achieve reasonable times for your big bubbles to be aloft. Also try bubbling in the early morning. Typically the air has the most humidity in the early morning. Or, try big bubbling right after a big rainstorm. High humidity is extremely conducive to big bubbling. Recently I demonstrated our newest big bubble product Dip Stix™. I was in New England and it was a very foggy morning. The winds were calm, and the temperatures a very mild 70 degrees. I was knocking out some incredibly big bubbles with Dip Stix™! The colors were fabulous, but what really amazed me were the big bubbles that got caught in the upwards breeze. I didn’t actually have my stopwatch running, but in the high humidity of the foggy morning, many of the big Dip Stix™ bubbles lasted in the range of 10 minutes!
Big bubbles don’t like direct sunshine. They just don’t last as long. Direct sun may dry a spot on the surface and just like a balloon with a hole, it pops. Get in the shade of a tree or building. With really big bubbles, the forces of gravity can take over as well. Notice the next time you are creating big bubbles, the bottom of the bubble may have a slight “Point” to it. The water within the two walls of soap is being controlled by gravity, and running towards the bottom of the bubble. This is the wettest part. The top of the bubble will be the driest. When making big bubbles with the two handled variety of big bubble wands, you can actually lift the bubbles upwards, and put a slight spin on the bubble, so it will rotate, as it floats freely through the air. This technique will allow for longer lasting bubbles.
10. Dirty solution.
It is important to keep your solution free of dirt and debris. If the bubble loop does touch the ground, be sure to rinse it off before putting it back into the solution. If the solution gets dirty don’t add more clean solution. Use up the old solution and rinse the container well before adding more clean big bubble solution. If the wick material of the wand accumulates dirt or debris, simply rinse with plenty of clean water before you begin big bubbling.
There are three types of “Bubble Heads” in this world. People who love to make big bubbles. People who love to watch big bubbles. And people who love to pop big bubbles! Small children love to pop bubbles more than anything! They just can’t wait to be the first one to pop the big bubble. Make a game of it! Set a line 15 feet downwind and make a rule that no one can pop the bubbles before they get to that point. Make lots of small bubble for them to pop by holding the tip close together. In a strong breeze it will make hundred of bubbles in a minute. Get up higher or hold the wands high in the air. The bubbles will float higher than the children. That makes them have to jump and jump to pop the bubbles. After jumping for hours, the children will get a good night sleep!