Jana loves researching and sharing facts about the natural world, science, and history.
Many people fall in love with bubbles when they are kids and never outgrow them. That’s perfectly fine. Apart from feeling lightheaded now and again because you overdid it with all that blowing, creating bubbles is a hobby that is fun and joyful. This article gives you more insight into what bubbles are, how they form, and how you can make amazing orbs that won’t burst easily!
What Is a Soap Bubble?
According to our friendly scientists, the definition of a soap bubble is simple. It’s a thin film of soapy water in the shape of a hollow sphere, with a surface that appears oily and iridescent. Most of us already know that, but here are a couple of interesting questions: How does a bubble stay a bubble, and why do they burst?
How Bubbles Live and Die
In essence, when you blow a bubble, you are trapping air inside a sphere of soapy water. Depending on the surface tension, the bubble will have a short life or float magically around the garden for quite a while!
Interestingly, a bubble has three layers. The inner layer consists of water, and the layers sandwiching the H2O are both filled with soap molecules. When the bubble recipe has too much water, the surface tension will be too high, and the bubbles will burst quickly. The secret to long-lasting rainbow orbs is the right amount of detergent!
How to Blow Long-Lasting Bubbles
Now that you are a bubble expert and can tell people what these magical orbs are, you probably just want to get down to business and blow some epic bubbles. Luckily, you need just two things: a bubble wand and a good soapy mixture.
For the wand, you can make your own from a piece of wire or purchase one from a store. The latter is readily available in the toy aisle where all the bubble products are kept. It’s best that you mix your own soapy water to get the best consistency for tough orbs.
The Best Recipe for Bubbles
The following blend makes long-lasting bubbles, and, in some cases, your bubbles will be tough enough to bounce off moist or wet surfaces. To kick your hobby to the next level, simply grab the ingredients and tips below to make your own super-bubble blend.
- 1 cup distilled water (do not use warm water)
- 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing detergent (play around to discover which brand works the best for you)
- 1 teaspoon sucrose sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure glycerin (not glycerin soap)
You can simply mix everything together and use it immediately or store the solution until your kids get home from school.
Fun Fact: The sugar makes the bubble sturdier while the glycerin slows down the water’s evaporation rate, preventing the bubbles from popping quickly!
How to Make Giant Bubbles
Are you ready to make your first giant orbs that are bigger than your toddler? Okay, maybe not that big, but you can create large bubbles fairly easily, and your kids will love them.
- Make your own bubble wand that is about the size of a dinner plate.
- Pour the solution into a pan or another shallow container that allows you to dip the wand in the liquid.
- Once your wand has a filmy surface, pull it through the air as quickly as you can, and watch that monster bubble appear!
Why Are Bubbles Always Round?
Have you ever wondered why there are no square or tube-shaped bubbles? Sure, when some large bubbles are being pulled from the wand, they can look like iridescent worms! But as soon as they detach from the wand, these bubbles retract back into spheres.
Remember when we talked about surface tension and how it determines how quickly a bubble bursts? Well, we’re once again shaking hands with this guy! As the air molecules inside the bubble cluster together to counter the pressure of the air molecules outside, the surface tension of the bubble pulls the soapy film into the shape of a sphere.
Bonus Facts About Bubbles
- Soap bubbles can be frozen. Add a bubble to a plate and stick it in the freezer!
- White light (which contains all colours) reflects on bubbles, giving the latter their trademark rainbow iridescence.
- The largest soap bubble net was created by Chloe and Stuart Ferguson in 2022. It measured 28.635 square meters.
- Bubbles are a popular confetti alternative at weddings.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Jana Louise Smit