A Recipe For Blowing Bubbles That Bounce

Bubble Solution Recipes Plus Special Tips

You can make strong bubbles that bounce by adding ingredients to the bubble solution.
You can make strong bubbles that bounce by adding ingredients to the bubble solution and wetting surfaces the bubble will touch. Jim Corwin/Getty Images

Just about any bubble solution will produce soap bubbles, but it takes a little extra care to make them strong enough to bounce. Here's a recipe for bouncing bubble solution and tips to keep bubbles from popping on contact.

Key Takeaways

  • Soap bubbles consist of a thin film of soapy water that is filled with air. The trick to making bubbles strong and long-lasting is to add ingredients to the soap and water.
  • Use liquid detergent instead of soap.
  • Adding glycerin to the mixture slows the evaporation rate on the bubble, so it doesn't pop as quickly.
  • Sugar added to the mixture makes a thicker, sturdier bubble.
  • Cooling the bubble mixture before blowing bubbles also helps form a stronger bubble.
  • While pretty much any soap or detergent can produce a bubble, Dawn liquid dish detergent generally works best.

Introduction

Soap bubbles consist of a thin film made of soapy water that is filled with air. The film actually consists of three layers. The outside and inside layers are soap molecules. Water is sandwiched between the soap layers.

Soap bubbles are a lot of fun to play with, but the ones found in the sink or bath don't last very long. There are a few factors that make bubbles fragile. Gravity acts on bubble and pulls the layers toward the ground, making them thinner and weaker at the top. Bubbles made from hot, soapy water pop quickly because some of the liquid water changes into water vapor. However, there are ways to thicken bubbles and slow down how quickly the liquid evaporates. You can even make bubbles strong enough to bounce on a surface rather than pop.

Bouncing Bubble Recipe

You only need a few ingredients to make homemade bubble solution.

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 2 tablespoons liquid dishwashing detergent (original blue Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent works best)
  • 1 tablespoon glycerin (pure glycerin, not glycerin soap)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (sucrose)
  • Bubble wand or straw to blow bubbles

Simply mix together the ingredients and store it in a sealed container until you're ready to use it. While the recipe may work with regular tap water, distilled water produces reliable results because it doesn't contain extra minerals that could prevent soap suds from forming. The detergent is what actually forms the bubbles. You could use real soap, but detergent is more effective at forming the film that makes a bubble. If you use tap water, there's also a risk of getting soap scum. Glycerin stabilizes the bubbles by making them thicker and reducing how quickly water evaporates. Basically, it makes them stronger and longer-lasting.

You'll get a little extra "oomph" from your bubble solution if you place it in the refrigerator to age overnight. Allowing time for the solution to rest after mixing it gives gas bubbles a chance to leave the liquid (which could prematurely pop your bubble). A cool bubble solution is thicker and evaporates less quickly, which may also protect your bubbles.

Blow Bubbles You Can Bounce

Blow bubbles! Now, you aren't going to be able to bounce them on hot pavement, no matter how hard you try. You need to aim for a more bubble-friendly surface. You can catch and bounce bubbles on the following surfaces:

  • Bubble wand, wet with bubble solution
  • Damp dish
  • Gloved hand, especially if you wet it with bubble solution
  • Cool, damp grass
  • Damp cloth

Do you see a trend here? A smooth, moist surface is best. If the surface is too rough, it can puncture the bubble. If it is too hot or dry, the bubble will pop. It also helps if you are blowing bubbles on a calm day with high humidity. Windy, hot conditions will dry out your bubbles, causing them to pop.

Feel free to experiment with bubble wands, too. Bend pipecleaners into any closed shape you want, like a circle, heart, star, or square. Pipecleaners make great bubble wands because they pick up a lot of bubble liquid. Did you notice that no matter what shape you use, the bubble always turns out as a sphere? Spheres minimize surface area, so round bubbles naturally form.

Need even stronger bubbles? Try this recipe for bubbles that won't pop.