In many ways, bubbles are the reason we’re here at Beekman 1802. When the economic bubble burst in 2008, we needed a way to keep the farm afloat. We started making a different kind of bubble: the clear bubbles that come from our signature goat milk soap. This soap saved us and brought us together with our wonderful neighbors. We could really drive this bubble metaphor home by talking about Brent’s bubbly personality, but we digress. Anyways — while some people may think bubbles are frivolous, we think they can be pretty important.
Why not take bubbles seriously? Let’s dive deep into the science behind bubbles and try to make the best bubble we can for both soap and gum!
To create the perfect soap bubble, you need to understand the anatomy of a bubble. A soap bubble consists of three microscopic layers. The outer layer is the soap solution, the middle layer is pure water molecules, and the innermost layer is more soap solution. Because the middle layer is purely water, this means that in the right temperature (-13 degrees Fahrenheit or colder) your bubble can freeze. If you’re brave enough to be out in that type of cold, try blowing bubbles in the frigid air. The middle bubble layer will form into a very thin layer of ice and will last a while before popping.
What soap makes the biggest bubbles?
For this one, we actually don’t recommend our soap. For big rainbow soap bubbles, this is when additives like oil and petroleum (ingredients that we do not use) are a good thing. Because we make real soap with simple ingredients, our soap doesn’t make those bubbles that have a rainbow sheen that catch the light in just the right way.
For strong bubbles that can last a while on the wind and look great in the sun, it’s good to look for liquid dish soaps. Now it’s time for us to do our best Bill Nye the Science Guy impression. Lab coats on, everybody!
These types of soaps are actually detergents, meaning that they contain surfactants. (This is why our Happy Place laundry line is a soap, and not a detergent.) Surfactants are important in bubble making because they reduce the surface tension in water. When surface tension in water is reduced, it creates a more even layer of water. This means that the three layers of the soap bubble are more even, which makes your bubble harder to burst.
Another thing soap bubbles need to be their best is a stabilizer. Adding a little white sugar or corn syrup to your detergent and water solution creates strong chemical bonds and stronger layers. Stronger bubbles can withstand a lot of air before they burst and will float better in the breeze.
What about wands?
Truth is, wands aren’t the most important part of the bubble. Feel free to use your forefinger and thumb shaped into an O, the wand that came in your bubble solution, or make one by shaping one pipe cleaner into a circle and use another pipe cleaner to create a handle. The most important part of making a bubble isn’t the tool used, but the breath used.
So how do you blow the perfect soap bubble?
In 2016, a group of French scientists determined the perfect way to blow a bubble. These scientists were able to determine that while your bubble solution does have an effect on the strength of the bubbles, the most important part of bubble blowing is the force with which you blow.
The scientists set up a system that kept the thickness of their detergent solution and the width of the potential bubble regulated. Then they used a nozzle to blow air into this system. They also took turns blowing in light helium and heavy sulfur hexafluoride gas (Say that ten times fast!). They were able to determine that the minimum blowing speed for bubble creation was between 10 and 100 meters per second. Anything outside this range didn’t create a fully-formed bubble.
When you have perfected your soap bubble technique, it’s time to move to the big leagues of bubble blowing— gum bubbles.
How do you blow the best gum bubble?
The world record for largest bubble blown was achieved in April 2004 by Chad Fell. His bubble measured 20 inches in diameter. You might be able to blow his record out of the water if you follow these tips.
A lot of what goes into blowing the perfect soap bubble is similar to what goes into blowing the perfect gum bubble. The 2016 study on how much force you need in your breath is applicable to non-soap bubbles. That 10 to 100 meters per second of force in your blow is also the sweet spot for bubbles. One major thing to remember when it comes to gum is that once you are blowing air in that range, you need to be consistent.
Gum bubbles are trickier because consistency is key. You can’t go too big, too fast or else your bubble will pop before it has time to reach optimum bubble-osity (We’re not sure if that’s a real word, but it sounds science-y enough for us!)
What’s the best gum for bubbles?
When it comes to the best bubblegum to use, there’s a lot of science behind this too (We think these scientists must have a lot of time on their hands.) Studies have shown that the best brands of gum are Dubble Bubble (Which is what Chad Fell used in his world record bubble), Bazooka gum and Bubbilicious. Why are these gums prime picks for bubble blowing? It’s the sugar content.
When it’s time for choosing the right gum, you should be looking for a gum that is made with less sugar and in general is harder to chew at first. While sugar is good for stabilizing both soap and gum bubbles, too much can have the opposite effect. Gum with higher sugar content makes the pieces softer and easier to chew right away. Gum with a harder structure will take a while to chew but will reward you with bubbles that are bigger and hold their shape longer. For quantity, the world record holder used three pieces of Dubble Bubble but more gum doesn’t always equal better bubbles. Start with one piece and practice your form, then add another piece if you’re feeling daring.
The secret to big bubbles
The biggest secret to success when it comes to blowing bubblegum bubbles is to make sure that you are not chewing your gum for too long. Your saliva breaks down the gum’s structure the longer you chew. In addition to this, if you let your gum become cold, it will start to lose its elasticity. So pop in a piece of Bazooka gum and chew for 4-5 minutes, then starting blowing.
So now that you know all the secrets and science to bubbles, it’s time to go practice! We would love to see our neighbors put these tips and tricks into action. If you think you have made the perfect soap or gum bubble, take a pic and upload it to Instagram with the hashtag #BeekmanBubbles. We can’t wait to see what you create!