We go through bubble solution like it’s water. There is a constant collection of partially empty bottles of bubbles in our garage, which drives me batty – it’s clutter, and then it’s waste. I hate both of these. So, it was time to take a stab at our own bubble solution so that we could mass produce and refill bottles. A previous attempt last summer yielded a gloppy mess that took two days to clean out of the container we made it in (not to mention the fact that not a single bubble was produced). Thus, I did the research about what makes a resilient bubble, then made some better choices about technique and materials.
The big trouble with our original attempt was evaporation. Bubbles are just thin spheres of soap stretched around a pocket of air. When the water in the solution evaporates, the bubbles pop. This is one of the reasons that bubbles work better on very humid days. Glycerin is a vegetable product that slows evaporation, allowing bubbles to form more easily and last longer. Adding that to our second attempt helped immensely. Also, our original solution was mixed directly into a bubble bucket, so there was no airtight seal (and the ingredients didn’t get mixed all that thoroughly) – the water evaporated, leaving big blobs of dishwashing liquid.
- 5 cups of water
- 1/3 cup dishwashing soap
- 1 Tablespoon liquid glycerin
Notes on the ingredients:
- Water: Some recipes call for distilled water. If your water supply has high levels of minerals, you should probably follow this suggestion. Our city has great water, so we took a chance – it worked well for us.
- Dishwashing soap: General consensus is that classic Dawn is the best. The ultra varieties are just highly-concentrated forms of the regular detergent, making extra suds, which can be problematic for bubble solution. We used Ultra Palmolive, so we reduced the amount a little bit, and it turned out just fine. If you are having troubles, add a little extra glycerin, too.
- Glycerin: A bunch of websites told me to look at my local drugstore, though they didn’t say *where.* It seems to be an old-school remedy for constipation, so look there if you have the inclination. I could only find it in suppository form at a pretty premium price. I was unwilling to take this step. With a little research, I found that this is also used in soap-making. Hobby Lobby had an 8-oz bottle for $3.47. Jackpot. I have read that Karo syrup can also be used in place of glycerin. Chemically, this is correct. However, that screams sticky, sugary mess that will attract bees and ants. I’m glad we toughed out the search and found the real deal.
- Food coloring? Some recipes call for food coloring so you can have colored bubbles. Bubbles are so thin that no amount of coloring could accomplish this. The coloring is just for the look of the solution, not the bubbles themselves. Our solution was pink because that’s what color the dishwashing liquid was.
- Pour water into a bucket. Warm water works best.
- Gently mix in the dishwashing liquid, stirring as little as possible while still getting the liquid thoroughly incorporated. It’s best to do this a few hours before you will need to use the solution. Having lots of little bubbles on the surface will make it impossible to blow larger, smooth bubbles with the wand.
- Gently add the glycerin and stir gently.
- Store in an airtight container. This filled a 32-oz. yogurt container and about half of a vitamin container when we made it. We can use these to refill all of the empty bubble containers lying around the garage.
The neighborhood testers had no complaints about this bubble solution.
It provided over an hour’s worth of entertainment (though I think many were just vying for photo ops so they could be Internet stars). The solution made great larger bubbles, too.
This solution was no less messy than the store-bought versions,
but you can make such a huge quantity that it’s not such a big deal to lose a few gallons when little feet trip over the bottle.