Big Bubbles: An Unstoppable Obsession

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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 BubbleThing.com:

  • 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 🙂

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13 thoughts on “Big Bubbles: An Unstoppable Obsession”

  1. Ha, ha! Just watching this made me smile. Did you know there are professional bubble artists? Apparently, you aren’t the only one obsessed with big bubbles. The next logical step of bubble obsession? Helium and air guns! … On a different note, I’m finally moving along with the documentary again. Got a blog going for it – osbdocumentary.tumblr.com. Anyway, I need to get back to editing. Blog-related procrastination is my kryptonite. But first, must tell you about my new recent obsession because everyone should know about it – http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab – It’s so good. Talk about great storytelling!

  2. Hi,

    Previously i tried a few guar gum receipes and also some J Lube receipes from the bubble wiki.

    BUT:

    Your second (J-Lube, glycerine….) receipe resulted in really giant and unbelieveable bubbles.
    200% satisfying and 500% FUN factor.

    And it’s true.. after i spent a couple of weeks with testing different receipes and variations..
    I got addicted to this hobby. I wake up in the morning and preferably i would go out for bubbling instead of work 🙂

    All in all:

    Thanks a lot for this really GREAT and in my opinion one of the BEST receipes available on the NET!

    Greetings from Germany!

  3. Hi! I am very excited to try your recipe with my kids! I want to make sure that when you say J-lube you mean 1/2 teaspoon of the powder, right? Just wanted to make sure you didn’t mean 1/2 teaspoon of it already mixed into a solution. Thanks in advance!

  4. Pingback: Colossal Bubbles
  5. Hey there, I have been making my own mixes, and discovered that when you use J-lube and baking soda, you don’t really need the glycerin after all. I haven’t tried it with glycerin yet, but I think it will only make a mess of my current mixture.

    My recipe is good for little over 4 liters of bubble solution. Most of the recipes need more water. The best one I’ve found used 11,3 liters of water!!! I have split up all the amounts and translated it into metric values and came up with my current recipe. It looks much like yours, but it doesn’t use glycerin and makes use of a Dutch brand of soap (Dreft) with 15%-30% anionic surfactant. That is the specific value you are looking for in soap.

  6. To be honest, I’m uncertain what it does exactly. I have read, however, that it can neutralize some of the chemicals in the soap that aren’t conducive to big bubbles. Perhaps it’s not needed at all? Certainly worth some more experimentation.

  7. been mixing your solution for years now just want to say thank you!!!! I bubble at festivals and take my bubbles everywhere. I even can blow vibrating bubbles 28th the end of my didgeridoo much happiness and thanks for sharing!!! <3

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