Big Bubbles: An Unstoppable Obsession


This summer I fully gave in to what was an inevitable obsession: the creation of big soap bubbles.

When I was young my family had a Bubble Thing. Where and why we got it, I don’t know, but considering the relative lack of humidity in the Salt Lake City atmosphere, the days when we could actually go outside and make proper use of it were few and far between. This summer I came to the sudden realization that I now live in Eugene, Oregon, a city in the northwestern United States that is notorious for its wet weather. Cuddled between the ocean and volcanic peaks, the clouds dump everything they’ve got on us before they rise up into the Cascade Range.

Being something of a do-it-yourself enthusiast, I hopped on over to the nearest home supply store to look for materials:

  • bub-maker-small2 three or four foot long green stakes used to hold up young trees/plants
  • 1 100% cotton looped end mop head
  • 1 shower curtain ring (optional)

The mop head was simply a cheap source of 100% cotton twisted yarn. With a seam ripper you can get more yarn out of a mop head than you’ll know what to do with, and you’ll get it for significantly less than you would find it at a craft/cloth store. I tied a single piece of yarn onto one end of one of the stakes using a simple clove-hitch, then continued to tie the same strand onto the end of the other stick, then back to where I started. This creates a loop that hangs when you hold one stake in each hand and lift it up (see photo to the right). Nothing complicated. I slid on the shower curtain ring just to add a little weight and to ensure that gravity would make my loop droop open for maximum bubblifying when I raised it up.

Now for the bubble solutions. So far the recipe that takes the cake for being simple and remarkably effective is the newly updated recipe recommended at

  • 16 cups warm water
  • 1 cup Joy or Dawn dish soap
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder (not baking soda)

This solution makes great bubbles. All ingredients are cheap and easy to find. The solution I have been using, however, makes even better bubbles:

  • 16 cups warm watermov2
  • 1 cup Original Dawn dish soap. Not the ultra or concentrated kind. The only place I have found Original Dawn is at WalMart. For big bubbles, it’s worth it 🙂
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons glycerin. I thought this was a difficult ingredient to find until I realized that it is now commonly stocked with the bandages and sold as a skin protectant in virtually any grocery store and pharmacy.
  • 1/2 teaspoon J-Lube. This is by far the most difficult ingredient to find, but for phenomenal bubbles it’s by far the most important. It is made by Jorgensen Laboratories for use as an obstetrical lubricant for livestock. Although it is easily ordered over the internet, you can find it at many farm and livestock supply stores. In Oregon and Southern Washington, Wilco stocks it. Again, it’s somewhat difficult to find, but well worth it.

Mix everything into a clean bucket (bubblers say that every speck of dust equals one popped bubble), dip your bubble maker in, lift, open your arms wide, and let a rip. The more humidity in the air the better but it is worth noting that all photos and videos posted here were made with this solution in ZERO PERCENT HUMIDITY! It’s been years since I’ve had this much child-like glee!

Try it. You know you want to. The kids will love it. Your friends will love it. You’ll love it. In fact, I’m nearly certain that God toys around with soap bubbles from time to time. How could he not! It’s one of the most delightful activities I’ve ever encountered! It’s an addiction that I hope to spread around like berry pie. I’ve become obsessed 🙂