--The wands, the soap, and:
the joy of making
Giant Bubbles
You're at: https://57296.neocities.org/bubbles.htm
(Last worked on: August 22nd, 2019)

(Best recipe to date)

Hi. We had to make our own giant bubble wands (16 years ago now) because they only seemed to be available in England. The parts are affordably available at department stores and JoAnn Fabrics (for the brocade).

* We once used just Dawn dish washing soap with good results, but the product seems to have changed, so we tried variations on the following:

* Mix up your solution in a clean quart Mason jar.
* Start with 20oz of hot tap water. (Use heated distilled water if your tap water is at all hard.)
* Add approximately 2 tablespoons of "KY" brand^ jelly.
* Mix it together with an egg beater, watching through the glass jar for completion.
* Add 2oz (1/4 cup) of dishwashing liquid detergent. (Joy or Dawn brands worked as well.)
* Add 2oz of pancake (corn) syrup. (Both Log Cabin and clear Karo brands worked as well.)
* Mix gently with a table knife, watching through the glass jar for completion.

~ This solution can be used right away, but we suggest decanting it into something like a pound coffee can for use, since a Mason jar might break and spread broken glass about.

^ The first ingredient in KY is glycerin. The only other ingredient is a preservative. Glycerin is often listed alone in bubble recipes and should work well in this one. It might be available from suppliers of ingredients for home made soap, but I've learned it's otherwise a special order through a local pharmacy here, whereas KY is widely available. Glycerin is also the first ingredient (along with many others) in many hand lotions, but the brand I tried ("Suave") didn't work at all in place of KY, plus it "poisoned" the wand's brocade for a long while. Mom and Dad might want to buy a big economy tube of KY and squeeze it all out into a pint Mason jar for measured use.

Update (August, 2019): K-Y use to be available in big whopping tubes, but all I saw on the shelves were 4 ounce amounts --but see the next recipes.

August 2019 updates: Not having been satisfied with any of the recipes (previous to this entry), I checked to see what's currently being used.

* I see the familiar old recipes using K-Y lubricant --per:

    ~ 2 Cups Dawn dish soap
    ~ 1-1/2 Gallon water
    ~ 1 teaspoon K-Y lubricant (or up to 1 tbsp)

* but from: https://happyhooligans.ca ("Outdoor Play Ideas") (I don't suggest that you sign up), something different:

    ~ 6 cups water ("distilled is best but tap water is fine") (if not hard water --Craig)
    ~ 1/2 cup blue Dawn dish detergent ("I used “ultra concentrated”, but Dawn original is even better.")
    ~ 1/2 cup corn starch ("corn flour in the UK")
    ~ 1 tbsp baking powder ("not baking soda")

Corn starch seems like a good idea, so I'm cutting the amounts in half and checking out variations.

    ~ A fresh batch, made with "Joy" detergent produced bubbles, but they broke easily.

    ~ I mixed this recipe at length, but it remained milky. Even as little as a teaspoon of corn starch in 3 cups/24oz of water settled out overnight --with only slight evidence that some was going into solution.

    ~ Tah-dah: bring the water and the starch just to a boil, cool it in the pan, using an inch of water in the sink. Two level tablespoons of corn starch in 3 cups of water (boiled) worked better than 1 tbsp (and much better than 1 teaspoon). 1/2 cup of Dawn Worked better than 1/4 cup. (Stir in the Dawn, don't shake to mix. You don't want froth.)

    ~ 1/4 cup of Karo (corn) syrup made it worse.

    ~ I can't imagine that the baking powder does any good, so there's the recipe for now.

I got up to 5 colorful bubbles from one wand dip, one of which actually bounced off the lawn, several went over the house. (Yes: I rinsed the wand and my containers between recipes.)

* There might be a volatile in Dawn (now-a-days) such that this bubble solution doesn't age well. It use to be that days-old solutions worked better.

* There are many variables: wind, humidity, solution freshness, contamination, technique, patience, and all the possible ingredients combinations. It's hard to actually know what one is doing.

* Next: I'll try some K-Y (for its glycerin content).

Earlier writ:

See below for the recipe derivation.

* No: we don't sell wands, but we've given them away in the past --as well as the directions (below) for making your own.

* Many people of all ages and social classes are fascinated with bubbles. You'll probably find hundreds of hits when you Google "giant bubbles" --like:

* http://www.wetrock.com/BBM/bbm.html

* Here's Bryce, who was an e-mail friend of ours in Hawaii. He's been bubbling for quite a while.

Watch his moves in this YouTube video:


--to find out what can be done with a bubble wand.

Bryce used a 2-stick wand that's made from 10 strands of cotton twine which he hand braids.  That takes some time and effort, so he wants to check out our brocade option --but something a bit thicker if he can find it.

* Another source of advice:


--which advises: "Mix up a bubble solution of 2/3 cup (160 ml) Dawn™ dishwashing liquid and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) glycerin in one gallon of water" --and age it for at least a day.

There's definitely an advantage to aging a soap solution, but (again) we've gotten the impression that all formulas and recipes using only Dawn soap are out of date (and see below).

* Big bubbles are difficult to make if there's any more than a very gentle breeze. If the air is still, then slowly swing or walk with the wand to simulate a gentle breeze.

See also:

> http://www.science-sparks.com/2013/08/29/making-giant-bubbles/

--for ideas on how to put yourself inside of a giant bubble!  :-)))

What you need for the wand:

    *    A 3 foot length of 5/8 inch dowel

    *    A 17" length of (nominal) 1/2" PVC thin wall pipe

    *    Two 5/8 inch "rubber leg tips" (Shepherd brand #9118)

    *    One small plastic tie-wrap

    *    A spool of brocade, which should be available at a JoAnn Fabrics store.
       Here's what you're looking for:

Then put it all together like this:

* It takes a little bit of skill.

Put the soap solution in a bowl or a one pound coffee can.

Close/collapse the brocade loop and lower it all into the soap solution.

Lift it out, slowly opening the brocade loop.

If there's no wind, move the wand slowly to form a huge bubble, then close the loop again to "cut off" and liberate your bubble.

If there's any kind of breeze, you might have to wave your wand with the wind --though a tad slower, so that the bubble isn't jerked out so quickly that it pops.

Sometimes your bubble will slowly gain altitude as it moves, flowing nicely over or around large obstacles, but find as clear a path as possible.

*** A sleepy residential street might be okay, but do not allow your bubbles to float into busy automobile traffic! These large objects are a distraction which can cause accidents. YOU (and/or your parents) might be held to be at fault!

*** Don't flail your wand about or throw it like a spear. Despite the rubber tip, they can cause severe injuries upon impact --should it hit someone's temple, eye, or other sensitive area. Also, dirt rapidly degrades the wand's and the solution's performance. (Parents: please supervise your children.)

Have a blast!  :-)))



Old feedback and suggestions:

* A contributor, who wishes to remain anonymous, suggests the following formula, which is intended to be a concentrate, which you later add to water.

~ 5 oz Ultra Concentrated Joy (the "Orange Scent Antibacterial is best")
~ 10 oz "Mr. Bubbles" Bubble Solution (hard to find, but it's much better than "Miracle Bubble")
~ 2 oz Glycerin
~ An optional mystery ingredient containing Hydroxyethylcellulose (--? ? ? ?)
~ 3 oz water (and the amount of water you add this concentrate to depends somewhat on the weather).

"Don't use a bottle larger than 24oz. to prevent excess foaming when you shake it."

"Let this concentrate solution age for about a week, shaking it two or three times per day."

"When it's aged, mix this bottle of concentrate with 37 oz. of water. 37 oz. is a safe amount to start with. But again, it depends somewhat on the weather. More or less water might be required. Blend well, and give it a go."

Thank you, "Anonymous"!

* "We haven't done the wrap around bubbles but it was my understanding that if you add glycerin, then you should let the solution age. If you want to use the solution right away you add Karo syrup. They have been a hit with my kids and grand kids. Thanks for sharing."   Ernie  [And thank you, Ernie!]

* "Hi there. Thanks for your very informative web site! The diagram is fabulous. I live in New Zealand, and don't know the shops you are referring to but with the diagram, I can determine how to find all these things easily and cheaply here too.  I am going to make these wands with my girl guide (girl scout) group this week. /  Thanks again,  Liz" [You're most welcome, Liz. Good luck and give them all a hug from Peg and myself.]

* "Can you tell me if there's any other way to make a giant bubble wand and do you have any pics? --Thanks, Frank" [If you use something solid, like a loop of wire, then you need a wide enough pan for the bubble solution --and it will be difficult to get enough of the solution onto the wire. That wire could be wound with cotton string or other absorbent material of some kind. / The idea is to capture a lot of bubble solution, yet have it release quickly as the bubble forms, so some flexible material that isn't too soft/porous would seem best --but to make a slack loop wand like the one I've illustrated, this material should also be able to hang limp and closed when wetted with bubble solution. I tried a number of items before settling on brocade --and there should be some type of brocade at a sewing materials supply store near you. / Good luck to you.]

Recipes & "Formulas"

We're endeavoring to provide just one formula: as simple and affordable as possible. Meanwhile, however, and to satisfy your curiosity about concoctions found elsewhere, here's how we arrived at the final recipe.

* The ingredients amount to water + liquid soap + syrup + "secret ingredient". (I started with "Joy" brand "thicker formula" Lemon scented --because that's what I had, and Log Cabin syrup for the same reason.)

Recipe   Water  soap  syrup  SctIngred          Results:

1        32oz   4oz   none   none               No good at all.

2        32oz   2oz   none   none               No good at all.

3        32oz   2oz   1oz    none               Starts out nice. Bubbles popped.

4        32oz   2oz   2oz    none               Better, but not good enough. Might
                                                be getting better with time.

5        32oz   2oz   4oz    none               Worse.

6        32oz   1oz   2oz    none               Not as good as #4

7        32oz   2oz   2oz    1/2oz KY lube      No better at first, but signs of
                                                it getting better with time. Wait
                                                and see. Hard to mix KY in. (Heat it.)
                                                Next day: a bit better.

8        32oz   2oz   2oz    1/4 tsp xanthan    Hard to get a good bubble launched,
                                                but then they last forever. Hard to
                                                mix in xanthan --like slug slime.
                                                Will age this --wait and see.
                                                Next day: no better.

9 total  32oz   2oz   2oz   1 tbsp KY           Quite good. Will try more KY.

10 total 32oz   2oz   none  2 tbsp KY           Works pretty good, but less colorful
                                                and fewer elongated bubbles.

11 total 32oz   2oz   2oz   2 tbsp KY           * Best yet. No 10+ footers, but colorful
                                                and long lasting (if they don't crash).
                                                Nearly every attempt produces a bubble
                                                if there's no more than a slight breeze.
                                                See the mixing procedure.

                                                * The next day this solution seemed to
                                                make tougher bubbles, but I saw no net
                                                advantage. I'll try aging it longer.
                                                About the same --3rd day. Bubbles pop
                                                sooner in warm air at 60% humidity.

12 total 32oz   2oz   2oz   2 tbsp KY           * Made it with Dawn soap. This solution
                                                might be better for multiple bubbles
                                                blowing out in a light breeze. Possibly,
                                                the bubbles don't last as long.

13 total 32oz   2oz   2oz   2 tbsp KY           * This time with Dawn soap, Karo (clear)
                                                syrup, KY and distilled water. Works for
                                                generating tough, snappy, 10 foot bubbles.
                                                Possibly, they don't last as long (60%
                                                humidity today --was higher for 1st day
                                                tests 1 through 11).

                                                * Tried hand hand lotion in place of KY
                                                but that didn't work at all.