Celebrate by making holiday bubbles

Just for your holiday fun  = the science of bubble making

Large soap bubbles at the Edinburgh Fringe

If you dip a bubble wand into a plain glass of water and try to blow a bubble – does not work..

Why? The way water molecules bind so tightly together ( surface tension) is too high to make a bubble.

How can you make a bubble? If you take water  and add  liquid detergent (a surfactant),: you can blow lots bubbles.

What happens to when water and liquid detergent are mixed?

First the water molecukes mixing with the liquid soap molecules and each want to find  place on the surface. They both  compromise and one end of the soap moecules clings to one end of the water movecule. This causes the surface of the water to “loosen up” (decreases the surface tension).

Then if  you dip a bubble wand into this soapy mixture and take it out slowly

you will see that a thin film is now spread over the loop on the bubble want.
NEXT blow GENTLY into the opening, and watch the film bulge . Now there is high enough surface tension to hold the bubble together, but the tension is low enough to allow it to be flexible.

Let us see how flexible the bubbles are –  carefully watch as the bubble  separates from the wand and close itself off. Now the air pressure inside the bubble is greater than the pressure outside, so it forms a sphere and maintains its shape.
What makes it pop?  – when the surface tension holding the bubble together becomes less than the force of the outside pressure pushing on it or if it hits another object this will break the tension. When this happens, the molecules let go of each other one after another, and the bubble falls apart.

Think of the molecules holding together being like children holding hands in a circle while moving quickly around in a circular pattern if they let the circle falls apart.. That’s what the collapsing bubble looks like

Excerpts courtesy of http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/time-warp/articles/bubbles.html
Video about making bubbles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQmpVIgDvgQ

The secrets to making giant holiday bubbles

Water: Distilled Water is the secret ingredient, Soft water is good for bubbles. Hard water, well water, and any water containing high levels of iron is bad for bubbles. You will get the best mixture by using distilled water especially. Distilled water can be purchased at the drug or grocery store. The tap water where I live is good so I usually use it in my mixtures.

Bubble Formula # 1
Dawn Ultra or Joy Ultra – 1 part
(Distilled Water Works Best) – 15 parts
Glycerine or White Karo Syrup 
(Optional) – 0,25

Bubble Formula # 2
Regular Dawn or Joy -1 part
(Distilled Water Works Best) – 10 parts
Glycerine or White Karo Syrup 
(Optional) – 0.25

Bubble Formula # 3 (Super Bubbles)
Regular Dawn or Joy – 2 parts
Glycerine – 4 parts
White Karo Syrup 1 part

Bubble formulas courtesy of


Image courtesy of



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