What is needed
- Liquids: water, dish soap, and glycerin (you can buy this at a
drugstore or at the grocery store.)
- Things to blow bubbles with.
- Somewhere you don't mind having bubble solution get on the
floor. This stuff is really slippery!
What to Do
- You can make as much bubble solution as you want by mixing it
in the following proportions:
- 2 parts water
- 1 part dish soap (Dawn brand seems to work well)
- 1 part glycerin
- Mix it all up in a clean container, and let it sit for a
(This recipe was worked out by David Sites, a junior high
school student who works with us in the Little Shop of Physics.
Thanks David! Exactly how much of the different liquids you use is
not too crucial, but this particular mix seems to work very
- Now you are ready to test your bubble solution. Dip something
that you can use to blow bubbles into the bubble solution. You can
use all sorts of things - a funnel works really well (dip the
small end) as does a piece of chicken wire or coarse screen (lots
of holes means lots of bubbles!) or a straw. Here is Amy Brobst
blowing bubbles with some coarse screen (called "hardware cloth")
that we got at the hardware store:
- Try some other things with the bubbles:
- If you get your hands wet with the bubble solution, you can
hold the bubbles in your hands!
- If you wet the end of a straw with bubble solution, you can
insert it into the inside of a bubble without breaking it! Then
you can blow into the other end of the straw to inflate the
bubble, or you can blow another bubble inside the first
- Get a bubble to rest on a table or on the end of your
finger. Now watch the reflection of a bright light in the
bubble. Check out the swirling colors!
What is Happening
You can blow pretty good bubbles with any dish soap if you dilute
it with some water. But adding glycerin makes the bubbles last longer
- and makes the colors brighter! It seems to make the solution a bit
thicker, which makes for thicker, beefier bubbles.
The colors in the bubbles come from interference between light
that reflects from the inside of the bubbles and the outside of the
bubbles - some of the light will cancel, which gets rid of some
colors - but leaves other colors. If you want to know more about how
this works, come to Colorado State University and take a physics
course with us!
Other Things to Try
We have been blowing bubbles with other gases recently. If you
blow bubbles with helium, they will float very nicely. How about if
you blow them with a blow dryer? Will the resulting "hot air bubbles"