Bubble Science: Making the Most of Your Suds

Bubbles
Photo: Evan Bordessa

There’s nothing like spending a summer afternoon blowing–and chasing–bubbles. But does your geekling know why those bubbles pop when she touches them? Steve Spangler says:

A bubble’s worst enemies are oil and dirt.

Years of playing with soap bubbles taught us that if our hands were wet, we could often catch a bubble without popping it, just as a bubble will often land on a wet surface without popping. This premise, of course, requires much experimentation and lots of bubble making. Happily, homemade bubble solution is cheap and super easy to make. Take advantage of the warm days and let your kiddos get wet and wild!

Bubble recipe: Gently stir about one cup of liquid dish soap and a quarter cup of corn syrup into a gallon of water. (See how easy that was?)

To get you started, here are five ways to explore with bubbles. Little yellow wand not required.

Bubbles
Photo: Evan Bordessa

Under the dome: Pour two cups of bubble solution onto a jelly roll pan. With one end of a drinking straw in the bubble mix, blow a giant tabletop bubble. Now for the trick: Dip a matchbox car or other small toy (and any part of your hand that will touch the bubble) into the bubble solution and gently push the car into the bubble.

A string thing: Thread two drinking straws onto a three-foot length of cotton string. Tie ends together in a knot. Holding onto the straws, dip the entire string (and your hands) into bubble solution and lift out, holding the string taut. Use big arm movements to make giant bubbles.

Bubbles
Photo: Evan Bordessa

Handsome bubbles: Dip both of your hands into bubble solution (yes, really!), and clasp hands. Lift hands from the solution and slowly unclasp them, maintaining contact between both thumbs and forefingers to form a diamond shape. Blow through the film of bubble solution.

A rope of soap: Push a plastic pot scrubber or recycled mesh onion bag halfway into a cardboard tube; tape into place. (Unless you’ve got dragon-size lungs, a short tube is better than a long one, here.) Dip the mesh into bubble solution and blow into the opposite end of the tube. You’ll make tiny bubbles, all connected in a long rope.

Big wand: Push a four-foot length of sixteen-gauge wire into a four-foot length of soft, braided rope. Shape the wired rope into a circle, leaving about one foot of rope at each end. Twist the ends together to form a handle. Soak the giant wand in bubble solution, then practice making super-sized bubbles.

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