Kick off summer fun with better bubbles

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2018 — Celebrate the first day of summer by making better, bouncier bubbles for kids to play with. Chris Yarosh, a science policy fellow at the American Chemical Society, is appearing on NewsChannel 8’s “Let’s Talk Live” today to demonstrate how to use chemistry to make stronger, longer-lasting bubbles. Try this simple recipe at home. You’ll need:

  • Dish soap
  • Distilled water (available at grocery stores)
  • Glycerin (look for it at a pharmacy or craft store)
  • Bowl
  • Bubble wands
  • Cotton fabric

Mix 2 cups of distilled water, 1/3 cup of non-concentrated dish soap and 1 teaspoon of glycerin. For more bubbles, you can double or triple this recipe.

After thoroughly mixing the ingredients, slowly blow the bubbles, then catch them on your cotton fabric and carefully bounce them. It’s that easy!

Tip: If you don’t have glycerin, try 1/4 cup of corn syrup instead.

Why does soap cause bubbles anyway?

Bubbles form because the dish soap lowers the surface tension of the water, so the water molecules don’t cling to each other as much.

Can you tell us a little more about bubble chemistry?

Sure! The thin film of a bubble keeps the air you blow in trapped inside. This film may look like a single layer, but it’s actually three layers—a sandwich of soap, water and soap. Dish soaps can do this because one part of the soap molecule loves water, but the other part tries to avoid water. In each soap layer, the soap molecules line up with the water-loving ends pointing toward the water, and the water-avoiding ends pointing away from the water.

What do people need to make these bubbles at home?

We are making our solution with non-concentrated dish soap, distilled water and our special ingredient—glycerin. All of these are easy to find at the store, but don’t worry if you can’t find the right soap and water. Tap water and concentrated, or “ultra,” dish soaps work, too. You just might have to experiment with how much soap and water to use!

What makes a bubble pop—and why does the special ingredient help?

The bubbles’ worst enemies are evaporation and things that make holes in the soap layer. Left alone, bubbles will last until the water in them evaporates. The glycerin helps draw in water from the air, keeping bubbles bubbly longer.

Why can we bounce the bubbles off cotton gloves or t-shirts?

Cotton materials help the bubbles avoid some of its enemies. The glycerin makes for a tougher, longer-lasting bubble, and the clean cotton keeps away dirt or oils on our hands that would pop the bubbles.

For more bubble fun:

For more easy experiments, visit

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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