CharmyEditAVAILABILITY NOTE, JUNE 2015! A wiki member informs us that Charmy "Power of Suds" (the "good" Charmy) seems to have been discontinued in January 2015 (per the manufacturer's website). It has been replaced by a line called Magica, but we have no reports yet to indicate how Magica performs relative to "Power of Suds".
Charmy "Power of Suds" is a Japanese dishwashing liquid manufactured by Lion Corporation and appears to be available only in Japan. The manufacturer indicates that it is not available in other countries.
There are several types of Charmy available. Be sure to purchase one of the recommended types (see Versions below) as the others do not work well.
It is used to good effect by Mr. Hisao Oono in his recipe. The bubbles made with this juice seem to vanish into a ghostless vapor.
The Apple and Orange scents are known ot work well in Mr. Oono's formula. There is a Rose-scented version but it it not known whether it performs as well as the others.
Charmy seems compatible with the same polymers as Dawn/Fairy. Edward Spiegel has found guar gum to be an excellent polymer for working with Charmy (see photos on this page). It is also compatible with PEO. The original "classic" recipe from Mr. Hisao Oono uses Japanese Laundry Starch. Edward Spiegel has noted that Charmy can be used in his standard guar-based recipe and has the ghostless vapor pops for which Charmy is known.
Dawn Equivalence. Without pH-adjustment, Charmy is somewhat weaker than Dawn Pro, but with pH adjustment it becomes quite a bit more powerful than Dawn Pro. Without adjustment, about 1.25 to 1.5 as much Charmy is needed to achieve a similar film thickness (as evidenced by the color profile). If the bubble juice is adjusted to a pH in the mid 7's, Charmy is about twice as potent as Dawn Pro. However, pH-adjustment may be incompatible with the "classic" recipe based on Japanese Laundry Starch. Charmy and Dawn are compatible. Mixtures of Dawn-based and Charmy-based bubble juice have performed well.
Viscosity. Charmy is quite a bit less viscous than Dawn Pro (which is quite a bit less viscous than Dawn Ultra). As measured by Edward's Syringe Test, the drain time for Charmy is about 6.5 times that of water while Dawn Pro's drain time is about 17 times that of water.
ph Sensitivity. See below. Adjusting the pH of Charmy-based bubble juice significantly boosts Charmy's effectiveness -- allowing one to use a fraction of the amount you would normally need. However, this pH adjustment may not be compatible with Japanese PVA laundry starch. It is compatible when using guar gum as the polymer.
Recipes. The "classic" recipe is from Mr. Hisao Oono. Edward is particularly fond of guar-based bubble juice using 1.5 grams Bob's Red Mill guar gum per liter of water and dilutions of 25:1 to 40:1 depending on the desired color profile and characteristics. Edward prefers about 33:1 (which is similar to ph-adjusted Dawn Pro mixes at 20:1) but sometimes uses 25:1 for increasing tube length while maintaining color saturation.
Ghosts. Charmy is known for its ghost-free bubble juice that pops into a fine vapor. This is evident even with guar gum and baking powder. Japanese Laudry Starch is not required for this type of popping. Also, adding some Charmy to a Dawn (or Fairy) based mix will reduce ghosting. When temperatures are low, Charmy mixes that are normally "ghostless" may exhibit ghosting. At 45F, Charmy/Guar mixes that do not ghost at 60F exhibit ghosting. Tests of Charmy/PVA Starch have not yet been done at this temperature.Price. In Japan, the price is about 159 Yen (about $1.60 US).
In the summer of 2013, Edward Spiegel performed some trials that seem to indicate that baking soda/citric acid or baking powder act as significant potentiators. See the Charmy category for links to to the related blog entries.
Edward's Summer 2013 explorations indicate that the pH of bubble juice made with Charmy has a heavy influence on the amount of detergent needed. When baking soda+citric acid or baking powder or citric acid alone were used (with tap or distilled water), the bubble juice pH was in the range of 7.1-7.7 and much less detergent was needed to achieve a particular film thickness than an unamended juice. For instance, with a 25:1 water:detergent ratio in a guar-based juice, the soap film was very thick and size potential limited. When baking powder (or baking soda+citric acid or citric acid alone) was added, the same juice achieved a soap film similar to that of an unamended 10:1 water:Charmy mix.
Example 1. Charmy at 33:1 (with tap water) with and without pH adjustment
Example 2. Charmy at 25:1 with and without adjustment.
The pictures above illustrate the dramatic impact that pH can have on Charmy. The images are bubbles the same size taken in the same session just minutes apart with the same indirect lighting. Notice the domination of pink and green in the unamended solution. The colors in that solution resemble those of similar Dawn Pro solutions at 40:1. The image on the right, however, has a color profile (which is an indication of soap film thickness) that one would associate with a Dawn Pro solution in the range of 10:1-14:1. For more about color and dilution, see Color and Film Thickness.
Please note that there were problems when using baking powder with Japanese PVA laundry starch. We do not know if this indicates that the laundry starch needs a higher pH OR if there is a chemical reaction occurring. Follow-up is needed.
See the Charmy category for links to related blog entries.
According to the back label of a bottle of Charmy purchased in Summer 2013 (whose front labels match those shown above), the surfactant percentage is 39%.
From the English translation:
|Surfactant||Alkyl ether sulfate sodium (alternate translation: Alkyl ether sulfuric acid ester sodium) (Sodium Laureth Sulfate - SLES)|
|Surfactant||Alkyl amine oxide|
|Surfactant||Polyoxyethylene fatty acid alkanolamide|
|Surfactant||Alkyl sulfonic acid sodium|
|Surfactant||Linear alkyl benzene sulfonic acid|
|pH adjuster||Sodium hydroxide|
While Charmy is easy to find and inexpensive in Japan, it is hard to find outside of Japan. The manufacturer does not sell to any distributors that ship to the U.S. or Europe. There are a few web sites that sell Japanese products and ship to the U.S.
Rakuten global market. http://global.rakuten.com/en. This site has advertises the same Charmy as pictured as well as some larger sizes. Shipping costs can be considerable. In August 2013, the price of a 400 ml Charmy bottle (enough for 4-8 liters of bubble juice depending on your recipe) is about $3 but shipping to the U.S. for that bottle would be about $15. A 2 Liter jug is available for about $14 with shipping an additional estimated $40. Here is a link to the 400ml bottle of Charmy such as I use. Please note that we have not personally purchased from the site and do not know what the customs fee is.
qooo10.com. (Sept. 2014) The Charmy that is available seems to be the "bad" Charmy. The site is: http://www.qoo10.com/. Charmy seems to be perpetually listed as out-of-stock on the qooo10 site. Do not purchase from this site unless you can confirm that it is the correct version of Charmy.
More links. More links to Charmy sources are found in the Comments area below.
It appears that the best way to get Charmy in the US, Canada or Europe is to have someone bring it with them from Japan.
The version that I received in Summer 2013 was found on Japanese supermarket shelves. Another friend visiting Japan in the same timeframe also found that version on the shelves. They have the same label and bottle style as you say at the top of this page. And this is the bottle and label style pictured on Mr. Oono's blog.
Get Charmy bottles with the style of label shown below. The Apple and Orange fragrance are known to work well. The rose scent is probably the same but that isn't certain as we have no reports about it. The Lion Company's information page showing the line-up we recommend is found here.
|"Good" Charmy packaging options (Dec. 2013)|
"Bad" Charmy Versions - BewareEdit
Some tests in Dec. 2013 by Edward indicate that the various versions of Charmy behave differently as they use different surfactants. Look for versions of Charmy that have the label style shown above for "good" Charmy.Charmy Mild or Gentle Feeling and Powerful Washing. There is a version of Charmy that is labeled as Charmy Mild (in Japanese) which is not an effective for bubble juice. As of 2013,it has a label as shown below. It has different surfactants and the surfactant amount is shown as 33% on the label. You will see it if you look carefully. Adding more detergent (to make up for the different concentration) does not seem to make up for the difference. The surfactant system itself just seems less effective. The ingredients are: olyoxyethylene alkyl ether, Fatty acid amido propyl dimethylamine oxide.
2009 Charmy. A wiki reader has written (in 2013) that the version of Charmy displayed at the top of the page ("Good" Charmy) is an old formulation from 2007. He found a press release from 2009 announcing a "more powerful" version: http://www.lion.co.jp/en/press/html/2009018f.htm. In Dec. 2013, we asked a Japanese bubble artist about the 2009 Charmy. We were told that the 2009 version is not current and that we should stick to Charmy as pictured here on the wiki.
The "Classic" Charmy recipe -- the one that brought Charmy to the attention of the world's bubblers is from Mr. Hisao Oono . The recipes requires: Charmy, water, glycerine and Japanese PVA Laundry Starch.
Edward Spiegel has found that Charmy can be used in place of Dawn in our guar-based recipe. When using Charmy, Edward favors a water-detergent ratio of 33-to-1 which performs similar to Dawn Pro at about 20:1.