We have tried for years to create the gorgeous frozen bubbles you see splashed around on various media outlets during the the polar vortex deep freezes every winter. Inevitably it always failed. It took years of practice, lots of research into the science, testing and experimentation, and waiting for the perfect weather conditions until finally we achieved success! Now we want to share everything we discovered! Learn all our secrets for how to make the perfect frozen bubble!
How To Freeze Bubbles
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This year was my year. I even set my desktop image to a gorgeous picture of a frozen bubble to inspire me. After years of failure, this year I wanted to succeed in freezing a bubble!
I love the gorgeous crystal structure of frozen bubbles. There is something truly magical about them. And if you have ever seen video, it is an incredible spectacle seeing those icy crystals spread and capture the bubble. Shrouding it into a glittery masterpiece.
But every time we tried to replicate this experiment our bubbles popped, shattered, exploded. I ended up with cold, wet, grumpy, disappointed kids every single time.
But I’ve learned a lot about heat transfer and winter science experiments. So this year I wanted to make it happen. And we did! We just needed to have a better understanding of the science and voila! Perfect frozen bubbles.
So how did we do it? Here are all the secret details to give you the most beautiful, perfect frozen bubbles to WOW your kids!
Frozen Bubble Experiment Supplies
Bowl and spoon
200 mL warm water
2.5 Tbsp corn syrup (for thickness)
2 tablespoons sugar (for crystallization)
2.5 Tbsp dish soap (for bubble formation)
1 water or pop bottle
modeling clay or playdough
A day that is cold with no wind
How to Make Frozen Bubbles
This activity can be appreciated and enjoyed by all ages. The forming of the bubbles is easiest for slightly older kids, approximately 7 years old and up. Adult supervision is required and always keep safety at the top of your mind. Being outside in these temperatures is dangerous. Please take proper precautions.
For best bubble crystallization it needs to be at least -10C outside. We did this at -35C to -45C. The most important part is that there needs to be no wind. Even the slightest breeze will cause ruptures and failures.
These temperatures will also explain some of the shake in the video. Sorry! So cold!
Special Frozen Bubble Solution Recipe
Start by making the bubble juice in a container with a lid. Add the warm water first. We used tap water as warm as it would come out of the tap. Then stir in the corn syrup until the water is clear.
Next add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
Finally, add the dish soap and stir until combined. Don’t get too enthusiasic about stirring at this stage or you will create a lot of bubbles. Stir enough to just combine the soap with the solution.
This is why we leave the dish soap to last. The sugar and corn syrup require quite a bit of stirring to dissolve. We don’t want to create bubbles in our solution now, we want to save them for later!
Place a lid on the container and set it in the freezer or outside for about 30 minutes to chill the mixture. We do not want it to freeze! Just chill.
Making the Frozen Bubble Wand
While the juice is chilling, we need to make a special bubble blaster! For this you will need a water or pop bottle (500mL is a great size). Empty and dry the bottle.
Take the cap and drill a hole in the cap that is just big enough to fit your straw. This step should be done only by a competent adult!
Place the straw through the hole in the cap and secure it using modeling clay to create an airtight seal.
If you don’t have modeling clay (we prefer it because it stays pliable even in the cold and maintained the seal), you can try play dough or even a glue gun. The goal is to secure the straw and create a seal.
Your Bubble Blaster is now ready!
We will explain more about why we need a special bubble wand in a moment, but in addition to the science, it also allows you to keep your hands in your gloves, and face protected from frost and frostbite in severe cold.
Now it’s time to bundle up and head outside. Find a nice place, preferably with some fresh snow.
Using the bubble blaster, dip the end of the straw into the bubble juice, then squeeze the bottle to “blow” and create your bubble. Set the bubble on the snow and watch it crystallize. You can also drop the bubbles and watch them freeze but when they land they are more likely to break.
Tricks to Make the Bubbles Freeze Without Breaking
Make sure your bubble juice is at least 1 inch deep. This allows the inside of the straw to be coated nice and high inside allowing you to create some good sized bubbles.
The trick to making the bubbles freeze without breaking is to get them off the straw before they start to crystallize and freeze. So blow the bubble, then release the bottle so the bubble detaches before it starts to freeze. The time you have will vary based on the temperature.
Try and set the bubble down gently. It is fun to watch them fall, but the force of the air can cause the frozen bubble to break and landing on the ground usually breaks the bubbles if falling doesn’t do it. For best results blow the bubble onto some snow.
Make sure there is no breeze at all. This is critical. Find a sheltered spot and make sure the kids are not blowing or creating any breeze. This will cause the bubbles to shatter.
Have a nice soft landing spot for the bubbles. We found a railing with a fresh layer of snow was perfect!
Building Frozen Bubble Towers – STEM Challenge
If you do everything right you can turn this into a fun challenge to see who can build the biggest frozen bubble tower, or who can make the longest line of bubbles, or 10 bubbles in a row. Lots of opportunities for some fun, frozen competition!
The Science Behind Freezing Bubbles
After years of failures trying to get bubbles to freeze I ended up learning a LOT about how to make this happen successfully.
First, temperature is your friend and your enemy. You need to keep everything cold and that is why we needed to create our bubble blaster. If you try to blow bubbles, the air in our lungs is too warm and the difference in temperature between the air outside and the air we blow out of our lungs is too great and leads to breaking. Remember warm air expands! So when you blow into the bubble juice, what is that warm air going to do? Expand and break your bubble!
That is also why we want to chill our bubble juice, to bring it closer to the outside temperature.
You want nice strong bubbles to really make this experiment work. To freeze up nice and solid (some of our bubbles are still there days later!), you need a thick bubble juice. The corn syrup provides that nice thickness we need in our juice to make a strong bubble. After making our bubbles if we gently knocked them free, they would roll across the ground like marbles!
Those gorgeous crystal formations you see on the bubbles is the process of crystallization. This is caused by the freezing process but is helped along by the sugar. This gives us some gorgeous frozen bubbles.
Of course, the final ingredient is dish soap which helps create the bubbles!
Want to learn more about the science of bubbles? Check out our study of bubbles.
Have fun freezing bubbles!
MORE WINTER ACTIVITIES
How to make a frozen bubble
Learn how to create a gorgeous crystal frozen bubble with these secrets!
- 200 mL Warm water
- 2.5 Tbsp Corn syrup
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 2.5 Tbsp Dish Soap
Add the warm water to the container.
Add the corn syrup and mix until clear again.
Add the sugar and mix until dissolved.
Add the dish soap and stir until just combined.
Place lid on the solution and set outside or in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Drill a hole in the bottle cap just big enough for the straw to fit through.
Place the straw through the cap and secure with modeling clay to create an air tight seal.
Head outside and blow some bubbles by dipping the end of the straw into the bubble juice then squeezing the bubble blaster to blow the bubble onto some nice, fresh snow. Watch them freeze!