I love bubbles, they are relaxing, mesmerizing even, to watch. They are swirling rainbow orbs that just float where the wind takes them. Even as a kid, I was fascinated by bubbles and I remember how excited I was at our ‘bubble-ology’ class in grade school. However, pretty much the first thing I learned about bubbles was a lie. I distinctly remember my grade school teachers telling/showing me how bubbles always form a sphere, even if they are blown through a square wand. As you can see in the above photo, and my how-to video, none of these bubbles are spheres – most of them only ‘blobs’. I imagine many of you have lived believing the same lie. I set you free. Also, turns out the Earth is not a perfect sphere either. You’re welcome.
NightHawkInLight had an awesome video on Instructables where he makes bubbles the size of train cars! One of the comments to his -ible was from BubbleMama who shared another bubble recipe using guar gum. And that’s essentially the recipe that I’ve been using since. Soapbubble.wikia.com claims credit for making some of the first/best guar gum recipes, so I’d better give a shout out to them too. Their site has tons of information about bubbles and I absolutely recommend checking them out. Thank you all for posting!
My family has spent hours blowing/chasing/popping these bubbles with brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents – everyone. Some of them have taken the recipe and shared it too – it’s just so much fun. Part of my reason for posting a well-known recipe is to put it up on my blog where my family can always find it when they need it. This bubble recipe is really easy to make, you can make it up in minutes (see the video here) and it can be used immediately or days later. Some folks make bubble making into a true science – that’s not for me, but this recipe is very forgiving, you can ‘eyeball’ the ingredients and still have it turn out great!
One note on this recipe, I live in the Eastern united states where it is quite humid most of the summer. I tried this same recipe in higher elevation desert country and found the bubbles popped too quickly (except for the time we did bubbles at a pool party). I think the humidity plays a big part in how well the bubbles work.
Step 1: Ingredients
For the ‘bubble juice’
- 1 Gallon of hot tap water
- ½ tbsp. Guar Gum
- 1 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1 C. Dish soap. I have had good luck with Dawn’s Platinum Power Clean – green or blue
- 1.5 tbsp. rubbing alcohol (optional)
Most of these ingredients are pretty easy to come by – with exception of guar gum. Anytime I travel somewhere, I forget to pack the guar gum and I find myself buying it again. Usually I eventually find it a bulk or whole food’s store. As a general rule, if the grocery store smells like incense, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find some.
Dish soap can also be tricky. I use Dawn’s Platinum Power Clean- I’ve seen others use the same. I like it because Dawn is always promoting how their soap is used to clean baby ducks covered in crude oil from tanker spills. I figure I can sleep better knowing the full cup of dish soap I just dumped on my lawn is good for the environment! *cough*
For the wand
- 2 Dowels
- Cotton Rope – at least 4 feet, but more is more fun…until there is too much, then it’s knot 😉 .
- Eye hook (optional)
Step 2: Make the mix
The only tricky part is mixing the guar gum into the water. If you dump it straight in, it will clump up – kind of like when you use flour or corn starch to thicken a soup or gravy, you need to mix it with something else first to prevent lumps. That’s where the optional rubbing alcohol comes in. Mix the rubbing alcohol with the guar gum until it is all smooth and ‘liquidy,’ then start your tap water stirring and pour it in. Pour the guar gum mix into the hot tap water- not the other way around.
Now, still stirring, mix in the dish soap.
Drop in the baking powder while you are still mixing. I haven’t made a science of it so I just eyeball what looks like about 1 tsp. In the video, I show me adding the baking powder before the soap – I don’t think the order of any of these ingredients really matters – except that the guar gum goes into the water.
Step 3: Make the bubble wand
Really, all you need is a continuous loop of something that holds the bubble juice on. A strip of plastic probably won’t work, but a loop of cotton rope works great!
If you are not using eye hooks, just tie the rope around the dowel, or drill a hole and thread it through. My biggest bubbles have been made using a long bit of rope on two large fishing poles – I hold it in place with tape – it doesn’t have to be fancy, just a continuous bit of rope.
Step 4: Round up the kids (big kids too) and make some bubbles!
Learning to make bubbles takes just a little practice. I find it works well when you hold the dowel tips together so the rope clings together. Dip it in, lift up slowly so as to let some of the excess drain off and then slowly open your dowels. If there’s no wind, walk back slowly with the dowels apart. If there is a slight wind, just stand there. If there is a big wind, the big bubbles get ripped apart – try a smaller loop, or loops, of cotton rope.