Get Outside to Make Giant Dish Soap Bubbles

With these homemade dish soap bubbles and a homemade wand, your kids can make giant bubbles, and learn a little science while they&re at it.
By Liz Heinecke
Jul 30, 2016

Ages

5-10


Jul 30, 2016

Science comes into play every time you blow a bubble, and giant bubbles are double the fun.

It’s simple to help kids whip up a dish soap bubble mix at home, and you can make wands for blowing giant bubbles with a few sticks, some kitchen twine, and a metal washer.

For best results, try this experiment on a day when it’s not too windy.

To make dish soap bubbles, you’ll need:

  • 6 cups distilled or purified water
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1 Tbs. glycerine (Corn syrup may be substituted for glycerine.)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) blue Dawn dish soap. (I'd prefer not to specificy a brand, but the type of detergent can literally make or break your giant bubbles.) Dawn Ultra-not concentrated, or Dawn Pro are also highly recommended. You can also use Joy detergent.

STEPS:

1. Mix water and cornstarch.


2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well, without whipping up tiny bubbles. Use immediately, or stir again and use after an hour or so.

To make a giant bubble wand, you’ll need:

  • Around 54 inches of cotton kitchen string
  • 2 sticks, each 1-3 feet long
  • A metal washer

3. Tie the string to the end of one stick.

4. Put a washer on the string and tie the string to the end of the other stick so the washer is hanging in-between, on around 36 inches of string. Tie remaining 18 inches of string to the end of the first stick to create a triangle.


5. With the two sticks parallel and together, dip bubble wand into mixture, immersing all the string completely.


6. Pull the string up out of the bubble mix and pull the sticks apart slowly so that you form a string triangle with bubble in the middle.

7. Step backwards or move the wands to create giant bubbles. You can “close” the bubbles by moving the sticks together to close the gap between strings.

The Science Behind the Fun

Water molecules like to stick together, and scientists call this stickiness “surface tension.” Soap molecules make it harder for water molecules to stick together. But when you blow a bubble made out of dish soap, you create a very thin film of water sandwiched between two layers of soap.

The thickness of bubbles is always changing slightly, as are their colors due to light hitting the bubbles from many different angles, causing light waves to bounce around.

© Quarry Books, 2016/Outdoor Science Lab for Kids
Featured Photos Credit: Amber Procaccini © Quarry Books

You can find more experiments like this one at kitchenpantryscientist.com, and in my books Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books) and Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books).

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