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Brian's Lube Mix aka BLMEdit

Brian's Lube Mix is a polymer mix that can be combined with water and detergent to create bubble juice. BLM is not a bubble juice itself. It is named after Brian Lawrence who posted this very useful J-Lube/Surgilube mix to SBF, the Soap Bubble Fanciers Yahoo Group where it became a staple of many bubblers.

The recipe is provided with his permission. Click here to read his posting about the lube mix on SBF, the Soap Bubble Fanciers Yahoo Group. An April 2011 posting on SBF further discusses BLM.

Two mix methods. There are two methods of mixing up BLM. The original and most popular version is the hot mix method. It uses a microwave and is great if you don't need large amounts. The cold mix method does not require a microwave. While Brian prefers to use the hot mix method, the cold-mix method works great and is especially useful for mixing up large batches.

See also Gordy's blog entry about mixing BLM.

Mix MethodsEdit

Equipment & IngredientsEdit

The recipe scales well. To make larger batches, simply multiply all ingredients by same amount. For the hot-mix method, the limiting factor will be the size of vessel that can fit in your microwave. It must be at least four times larger than the volume of liquid.

  • A kitchen scale (optional)
  • 8 grams J-Lube powder
  • 1 ounce (by weight) Surgilube (this is 28.3 grams)
  • 8 ounces water (Brian uses distilled water but tap water will work well in most locales)
  • A large microwave-safe pitcher or large microwave safe measuring cup (for hot-mix method)
  • A microwave oven (for hot-mix method)

The vessel that you use for microwaving needs to be at least 4 times larger than the amount of liquid. So, if you are using 8 ounces of water, it needs to be able to hold at least 1 quart (or 1 liter). You should also watch carefully and not let it boil over -- as boilovers are VERY messy to clean up.

If you don't have an accurate scale. 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) of J-Lube powder is about 0.6 grams. So, a hair more than 1 tablespoon (15 ml) will weigh about 8 grams. 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of SurgiLube weighs slightly less than 1/2 ounce. The formula is pretty forgiving. So you can use 2 (non-heaping) tablespoons or 30 ml of Surgilube if you can't weigh it.

Hot-Mix MethodEdit

  1. Pour the water into the microwave-safe pitcher/measuring cup
  2. Add the J-Lube powder
  3. [Optional] weigh the vessel plus its contents and write down the weight
  4. Place the vessel in the microwave and heat it to boiling.
  5. Boil for 6 more minutes watching carefully to avoid boilovers.
  6. The mix will boil up to 4 times the amount of liquid, so if you're making a pint, you need a half-gallon-sized pitcher. If it looks like it's going to boil over, halt the microwave for a few seconds and then restart it. You do not want to let it boil over--trust me on this one.
  7. Once boiled, you should now have very hot, perfectly mixed J-lube.
  8. Let cool to at least 150 degrees F.
  9. [Optional] weigh the vessel containing the J-Lube/water solution and add in enough water to replace the water lost during boiling.
  10. Mix in the Surgilube while warm/hot but less than 150 degrees F.
  11. Brian stores the J-Lube in plastic squeeze bottles, labeled with the date and formula.

NOTES: To make larger or smaller batches, scale the ingredient amounts


Cold-Mix MethodEdit

Brian prefers the hot mix method, but he has also published a cold mix method on SBF. Read about the full post here. Here are the instructions, quote from his post:

This "cold mix" method also works with J-Lube. I've been considering publishing a cold mix method for BLM. The reason I haven't is because I think the hot mix method works better.
What you do is make a slurry of J-Lube powder with either glycerin or PG (EDWARD: 91% isopropyl works, too). I like to warm the distilled water to 115 F. I mix the Surgilube into the warm water, then add it into the slurry and stir it.

The cold mix method works pretty well, but the BLM comes out cloudy, where with the hot mix method the BLM is clear. They both work well in bubble juice, and I'm not sure if there is really any difference. Somehow I just like the clarity of the BLM made by the hot mix method.

Edward notes (June 2015): The cold-mix method works great. I use 91% isopropyl for my slurry. I have not noticed a meaningful difference in the effectiveness of cold-mix and microwave mixed BLM, and the cold-mix method has become my standard.

UsageEdit

BLM is used by adding it to a water and detergent mix to turn into bubble juice. Here are some ideas:

Basic juice. Mix water and detergent in the desired proportions. Add some BLM (see next paragraph for the amount). Add 1/2 heaping teaspoon of baking powder per liter or quart of water and gently stir. We recommend that you try this with dilutions of 16:1, 20:1 and 25:1 to find the dilution that feels right to you. Keep in mind that in hot or dry conditions that a more dilute solution will often provide longer-lasting bubbles. See Dilution for more about dilution ratios and their importance. You could also substitute another appropriate water conditioner for the baking powder whose role is to regulate the pH.

How much BLM should you use? The optimal amount depends on many factors: J-Lube potency (see PEO), your personal preferences, the conditions, your equipment. People generally use 3/4 ounce to 5 ounces per gallon of bubble juice. When experimenting with this mix start with 1 ounce per gallon and add more as needed. If the juice is very stringy, you might want to choose less. On occasion, as little as 1/2 ounce (14 grams) is sufficient. The more BLM that you use, the more self-healing the mix will be (until there is so much that the juice is overdosed). Very, self-healing mixes will split into smaller bubbles in the presence of wind. If the bubbles split too easily, try using less BLM. When mixes are very self-healing, the bubbles may tend to be more wobbly (less spherical in the presence of even slight wind) than bubbles that are less self-healing, but the "wobbliness" also makes them less prone to sudden popping under stress.

Notes Edit

Breakdown by percentages (weight):

  • Water 86.18%
  • Surgilube 10.77%
  • PEO 0.76% (25% of the J-Lube is PEO)
  • Sugar 2.28% (non-functional ingredient that is used as a dispersant in J-Lube)

1 av. ounce (28.3 grams) of BLM is made up of: 24.4 grams water, 3 grams Surgilube, 0.22 grams PEO (.88 grams J-Lube), 0.66 grams sugar.

HPMC equivalence (in process). Some preliminary data (experiments in Dec. 2010) indicate that you can substitute 3 grams of Dow K15M HPMC plus 25 grams water for 1 ounce of Surgilube. If using a 1% or 2% HPMC solution, for example, you will want to use enough of the solution to provided the needed HPMC level and reduce the amount of water accordingly.

VariantsEdit

KY-Jelly and its equivalents (HEC-containing lubes) can be substituted for Surgilube. Some people actually prefer the KY-Jelly version. HEC seems a bit more forgiving and the lubes that contain it are easier to find than Surgilube. But, don't call the KY version BLM. BLM refers only to Brian's official recipe made from JLube, water and SurgiLube.

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