I want nothing more than to hibernate until this second polar vortex comes to an end, but Angela Kelly’s stunning photos of frozen soap bubbles inspired me to come out and play.
- Dawn dishwashing detergent
- corn syrup
- bubble wand
- wire, needle nose pliers and wire cutter (to make a bubble wand)
- spoon or whisk
I spent some time comparing recipes on the internet, and soon realized this would involve some experimenting. The first recipe we tried had water, Sunlight detergent and sugar. And while the temperature was below 0˚C, the bubbles consistently burst before freezing. Sooooo disappointing!
I noticed a number of recipes specified Dawn dishwashing detergent, and corn syrup instead sugar. Not sure what’s in Dawn that makes it special, but thought I would give it a try. Corn syrup, I learned, creates a sugar polymer which makes for a much stronger bubble. With this new recipe, we did manage to make some frozen bubbles, and had much better success at -16˚C than -6˚C. Some words of advice – wind and direct sunlight are your enemies, the colder the better, waving the wand to make bubbles is better than blowing them with your hot air, and wear gloves!
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup Dawn dishwashing detergent
3/4 cup hot water
1. Add 1/4 cup of corn syrup to 3/4 cup of hot water, and mix well until dissolved. Add 1/4 cup of Dawn dishwashing detergent and mix again. If you don’t have a bubble wand lingering about from the summer, you can easily make one using wire. Place both the solution and wand in the fridge until cold.
2. When you’re ready, head outside with the bubble solution, wand, and a camera to capture all the cool things you’ll discover. Try waving the wand to make bubbles, as well as blowing them, and see if there is a difference in how the bubbles behave. We found some bubbles remained intact until they had a chance to freeze, while others burst very quickly and, more often than not, burst when landing on surfaces like the ground or the car.
Best results for us occurred when we waved the wand to make bubbles, caught one with the wand, and carefully held it until it started to freeze, forming frost-like patterns on its surface, before slowly losing air and deflating.
We still have more experimenting to do since we have yet to have a bubble freeze and shatter, rather than slowly deflate. We also hope to witness different types of frost-like patterns forming on the surface of the bubble, since ours were quite similar each time.
For some science behind frozen soap bubbles, have a look at these sites:
Some beautiful images of frozen bubbles: