Nowadays, toy stores sell plenty of bubble guns, big bubble kits, and cute bubble machines. Still, nothing beats teaching your child how to make your own bubbles with dish soap!
For one, kids can learn about how surface tension works at home. Outside of science projects, making bubbles can make birthday parties or regular playtime a lot livelier.
Below, you will find a couple of instructions that you can follow. While the items needed are safe to use for children, adult supervision is still required throughout the activity.
Table of Contents
- Tools and Ingredients
- Studying Surface Tension
- Basic Bubble Mixture
- Frequently Asked Questions
Tools and Ingredients
Here are the items you will need:
- Liquid dish soap
- Bubble wands
- Large cup
- Plastic container with a lid
- Pie plate
Studying Surface Tension
If your kids are curious about the science of making bubbles from dish soap, I recommend doing this experiment to help them better understand the concept.
As always, feel free to skip this experiment if you’re simply looking for a bubble solution recipe.
1. Gather the materials
Prepare your liquid dish soap, a pie plate, and 2 glasses of water.
For best results, use short glasses instead of tall ones. Also, I will be referring to these glasses as Glass #1 and Glass #2 to avoid confusion.
Since you are working with children, do this experiment in a place where you don’t mind getting dirty. Cover the work surface with old newspaper or scrap paper for easy cleanup.
Note: In this science project, you will learn how bubbles are made instead of blowing them.
2. Stick your finger through the glass full of water
Place Glass #1 in the center of the pie plate or tray. Next, pour some water slowly from the other Glass #2 to Glass #1 until the water reaches the rim.
You will see that it forms a dome above the rim on Glass #1. Set aside Glass #2.
Now, carefully poke your finger straight through the dome of water in Glass #1. Did you notice that the water did not spill?
Home Science ToolsN explains that it is because water is composed of a lot of tiny molecules that are attracted to each other and, therefore, stick together.
In particular, the molecules at the top of the water hold on together forming a dome. Even if there is no wall of glass at the top, it did not spill!
When you stuck your finger through it, the strong surface tension made the water go around your finger. Again, no spillage!
3. Dab some dish soap to the tip of your finger
Apply a drop of dish soap to your fingertip and repeat the process above. Poke your finger through the dome of water. This time, you will see that some water spilled out of the glass.
That’s because the soap or detergent can reduce the water’s surface tension, says this article on Sciencing. It is done by pushing the water molecules away from each other.
Due to the force of surface tension, it also forms bubbles.
Although plain water may produce bubbles, it is often very small and does not last long. This happens because the molecules will pull the bubbles and flatten them.
In contrast, the soap can make bubbles because the water becomes more flexible. Plus, it allows the bubbles to hold their shape when you blow air into them.
Basic Bubble Mixture
1. Get all the ingredients and mix them in a container
Here’s a checklist of what you need following the recipe on Artful Parent:
- 4 cups of water
- ½ cup of blue Dawn dish soap
- ½ cup of sugar
Warm the water and then combine it with sugar in a bowl. You can use a spoon to whisk and dissolve the sugar.
Add the soap and continue to whisk until the ingredients are mixed well.
2. Optional: Add another ingredient and let the solution sit for a while
The basic Dawn bubble solution is sufficient. However, adding another ingredient can make your bubbles stronger. Choose one of these:
- ¼ cup vegetable glycerin
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- ½ cup of corn starch.
The homemade bubble solution above is ready to use after combining ingredients. However, letting it sit for a couple of hours or overnight can make the bubbles a little better.
After that, you and your kids can grab your bubble wands and start blowing!
If you want to use the mixture on another day, The Spruce suggests storing the mixture in an air-tight container.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I use as bubble wands?
Of course, your DIY bubble solution will not be complete without bubble wands! Though several ready-made bubble wands are available on the market, you can also make your own or use some household items.
This tutorial on Kids Activities demonstrates how to create bubble shooters with drinking straws. Essentially, you only need to attach a bunch of straws with a rubber band or masking tape.
Alternatively, use pipe cleaners to create bubble wands. You can also cut the bottom of the plastic cup, dip the large open end into the bubble mixture and start blowing.
What is the correct dish soap to water ratio for bubbles?
You will notice that there is a wide range of homemade bubbles with dish soap recipes online. Star Hop recommends 3 cups of water, 1 cup of liquid soap, and ½ glycerin or white corn syrup.
Based on my research, there is no one standard recipe. Regardless of the formula you choose, it can make bubble solution with dish soap effectively.
While glycerin is optional, it creates stronger bubbles because it slows down evaporation.
Why are bubbles round?
As you make bubbles at home, your kid probably asks you why they are round.
Well, the reason why bubbles are round when it floats in the air is that the thin film of soap is pulled in while the air inside the soap is pushing out.
Bubbles do two things according to Home Science Tools. First, it tries to take out the tiniest amount of space. Second, it tries to hold as much as it possibly can. The round shape is the best way for it to do both at the same time!
Even if you make homemade bubbles and blow from a square wand, it starts as a square but then turns into a sphere.
Learning how to make your own bubbles with dish soap helps you save money since buying ready-made solutions can be costly. Furthermore, it teaches your child a thing or two about science in an entertaining way!
Just by mixing dish soap, sugar, and water, you and your child can enjoy the afternoon blowing bubbles. Since there is no one correct dish soap to water ratio, you can experiment with the recipe to see which one works best.