Make Your Own Bubble Juice
These ingredients are common to all of the variations. The amounts make about 1040 ml of bubble juice.
- Guar Gum – We use Bob’s Red Mill (other NZ brands don’t work as consistently.
- Dishwashing liquid (detergent). The type of dishwashing liquid is critical (see below).
- (optional but highly recommended) baking powder OR other recommended pH adjuster. See related article
- (optional but recommended) isopropyl/rubbing alcohol or other slurry liquid (see details below)
- Water. Generally, tap water is best. Even if you think your tap water is terrible, try it. If it doesn’t work, try distilled water with a little bit of tap water added. The minerals in tap water seem to benefit soap films despite what you may read elsewhere. More about water here.
- Dishwashing liquid (detergent). The dishwashing liquid that you use is critical. I generally use Fairy Dishwashing Liquid. Similar detergents from Procter and Gamble are available under different names in much of the world (but not everywhere). See the Detergent article for recommended detergents.
- Guar gum (powder). The amount of guar gum will influence the ‘feel’ of the mix. This recipe is based on guar gum powder that’s sold under the Bob’s Red Mill label. I have tried other brands and some work way better than others, while some are a waste of money. A pretty wide range of amounts can be used. The optimal amount may depend both on personal preference and the brand that you use. See more in the Guar Gum article.
- (optional) Baking powder (or other pH Adjuster). Baking powder is slightly acidic (and many brands seem to be slightly buffered) which is beneficial to bubble juice. Other pH adjusters can be used, but baking powder is the place to start as nothing works better and it is almost impossible to overdo. It improves the soap film strength, bubble longevity and the ease with which the bubbles can be made. Baking powder will result in some sediment at the bottom of the container (which is just undissolved cornstarch). The sediment has no ill-effect, but some people prefer a sediment-free look. If this is the case, you can use one of the other pH adjusters discussed here. You can make the bubble juice without these ingredients, but you will find that they improve the juice significantly.
- (optional) Slurry liquid: isopropyl alcohol (or grain alcohol or glycerine or propylene glycol or mouthwash or even detergent). A slurry liquid makes it easy to mix the guar gum without clumping. Guar gum powder tends to clump when it is added directly to water or if water is added to it. If you mix the guar gum powder with any of the liquids in the preceding list, there will be no clumping. Mixing a powder with a liquid in which it does not dissolve is called making a slurry. Unlike many polymers, guar will slurry well even with standard rubbing alcohol. 50% (or higher) isopropyl is inexpensive and works well. Only a little bit is used. Update Sept. 2013: on SBF, it has been reported that mouthwash can be used as a slurry liquid.
The table below shows the ingredient amounts for a little more than 1 litre of bubble juice.
|Ingredient||By Weight||By Volume||Comments|
|WATER||1000 grams||1-litre||Tap water is generally best.|
|DETERGENT||40-65 grams||8 tsp. to 13 tsp. (40-65 ml)||Amount assumes a dishwashing liquid equivalent to Fairy Original Dishwashing Liquid. How much should I use? For your first mix, I recommend starting with 50 grams/50 ml (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon), which is a 20-to-1 dilution, as that seems to be a really popular preference. But, I also recommend that you try 16-to-1 and 25-to-1, as well. You might want to try more dilute solutions if you are somewhere hot and/or dry. See Adjusting the Detergent Amount below.|
|Guar Gum (powder)||1.5 grams||1/4 slightly heaping teaspoon (0.3ml)||The range of 0.5 – 3.0 grams (1/8 – 1/2 heaping tsp or about .125 to 0.6 ml) works well but with different characteristics. See notes below for more information about the type and amount of guar gum|
|Baking Powder||2 grams||1/2 slightly heaping teaspoon (a bit more than 2.5 ml)||Optional. Recommended. You may substitute other pH adjusters as discussed here.|
|Slurry liquid||recommended(see notes)||(see notes)||Optional. Makes mixing easier. Use enough to cover and distribute the powder. Rubbing alcohol, isopropyl alcohol (50% or higher), grain alcohol, glycerine, and propylene glycol work. The small amount of slurry liquid used has no effect on the characteristics of the juice. Detergent slurry: some people use some of the detergent for the slurry. See more at Slurry-Detergent.|
- Slurry. Mix guar gum powder and slurry liquid (usually isopropyl/rubbing alcohol) to make a slurry. This distributes the guar gum without it hydrating (dissolving). Use of a slurry avoids the clumps that some find hard to avoid without it. Your slurry should be clump free with just a few stirs. If the slurry is clumpy or paste-like, add more slurry liquid. You can also slurry the guar gum with the detergent. See the Quickest Mix recipe above for details.
- Mix with water. While stirring a portion of the water in a mixing vessel, add the slurry. (Or add a portion of the water to the slurry.)
- Rest (optional). Stir the water/slurry mix for a few minutes and let it rest to build viscosity as the guar gum continues to hydrate. Periodic stirring during the rest period is sometimes done.
- Combine with the rest of the water. Add the guar/water mix to the rest of the water
- Add baking powder (or baking soda and citric acid)
- Add the detergent.
- Your bubble juice will work immediately, however, it will improve as the guar hydrates over a period of 7 days