Don't be afraid! Feel free to skip straight to the Recipe Section. I have included a lot more information than the casual bubbler needs in order to satisfy hardcore bubble heads.
These ingredients are common to all of the variations. The amounts make about 1040 ml of bubble juice (a bit more than a quart).
- Guar Gum
- (optional but recommended) baking powder OR baking soda+citric acid
- (optional but recommended) isopropyl/rubbing alcohol or other slurry liquid (see details below)
- Water (1000 grams, 1 liter or a bit more than 4 cups). Generally, tap water is best. Even if you think your tap water is terrible, try it. If it doesn't work, try distilled water with a little bit of tap water added. The minerals in tap water seem to benefit soap films.
- Dishwashing liquid (detergent) (40 grams or about 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp). In the USA and Canada, Dawn Pro (also called Dawn Professional Manual Pot and Pan) is recommended. Dawn PowerClean, Dawn Ultra also will work well but not as well as Dawn Pro. Outside the USA and Canada, Fairy, Drect (and other Procter and Gamble dishwashing liquids) are recommended.
- Guar gum (powder) (1.5 grams or 1/4 slightly heaping teaspoon recommended as a starting point). The amount of guar gum will influence the 'feel' of the mix. A pretty wide range can be used and the exact amount will depend both on personal preference and the brand that you use. With both Now Brand and Bob's Red Mill a range of 0.5 - 3 grams which is about 1/8 tsp to 1/2 heaping tsp per liter of water works well. The middle of this range has a nice balance of friendliness and size potential. Some people prefer about half as much and some like almost twice as much (which yields a very viscous mix. The recipe was developed with food-grade guar gum powder. Any guar gum powder should work. The amounts on this page work well for Bob's Red Mill guar gum (often found in the baking or gluten-free baking section of supermarkets and health food stores. If using a different type of guar gum, try the recommended amounts but also try using more and less to see what you like. Edward prefers 1.5 grams (1/4 slightly heaping teaspoon) of guar gum.
- (optional) Baking powder or baking soda+citric acid. Either baking powder or the baking soda/citric acid combination are highly recommend. They improve the soap film strength, bubble longevity and the ease with which the bubbles can be made. Baking powder is very forgiving and does not need careful measurement. It is at least as effective as the baking soda/citric acid combination but it does leave a little sediment (which is just corn starch) at the bottom of the container. The sediment has no ill-effect, but some people prefer the sediment free look of the solution with baking soda/citric acid. You can make the bubble juice without these ingredients, but you will find that they improve the juice significantly.
- (optional) isopropyl alcohol (or grain alcohol or glycerine or propylene glycol or mouthwash). These ingredients make it easy to make the recipe without clumping. Guar gum powder tends to clump when it is added to water or if water is added to it. If you mix the guar gum powder with any of the liquids in the preceding list, there will be no clumping. Mixing the powder with a liquid in which it does not dissolve is called making a slurry. Unlike many polymers, guar will slurry well even with standard rubbing alcohol. 50% (or higher) isopropyl is inexpensive and works well. Only a little bit is used. Update Sept. 2013: on SBF , it has been reported that mouthwash can be used as a slurry liquid.
Finding Guar GumEdit
Guar gum is generally pretty easy to find locally in the USA. Many health food stores and stores like Whole Foods have sections devoted to gluten-free baking -- or baking sections that include gluten free ingredients. Look for guar gum there as it is least expensive when sold for this purpose. It is also often found in the digestive aids ing dietary supplements as guar gum is very high in fiber. $5 of guar gum will make many many gallons of bubble juice.
See the main Guar Gum article for more information and more ideas about where to get it.
Substituting Xanthan Gum. People ask about substituting xanthan gum as it is easier for some people to find than guar gum. Xanthan gum does not appear to be quite as good for big bubbles as guar gum, but it will work better than the detergent/water/glycerine and detergent/water/syrup recipes that one finds on the internet. You will need to experiment with the amount of xanthan to use. Try using less xanthan than you would guar gum. If you make xanthan bubble juice and also guar bubble juice, please let us know how they compare. So far, it seems that xanthan bubbles are quite a bit more "brittle" than guar gum bubbles, but maybe we haven't found the right amount to use.
|Ingredient||By Weight||By Volume||Comments|
|WATER||1000 grams||1 liter||tap water is generally best.|
|DETERGENT||40 grams (see notes)||2 tbsp. + 2 tsp.||Dawn Pro (Manual Pot & Pan Recommended). If the bubbles are dominated by pink/green, use a bit more detergent. See Ingredients above for more information. If measuring by volume, you can use anything between 2 and 3 tablespoons. The amount of detergent will influence the feel. See notes below.|
|Guar Gum (powder)||1.5 grams||1/4 slightly heaping teaspoon (.3ml)||the range of 0.5 - 3.0 grams (1/8 - 1/2 heaping tsp or about .125 to 0.6 ml) works well but with different characteristics. See notes below for more information about the type and amount of guar gum|
|Baking Powder OR baking soda+citric acid||2 grams||1/2 slightly heaping teaspoon (about .6 ml)||Optional. Recommended. You may substitute 1 gram baking soda + 0.5 grams citric acid. See notes below.|
|Slurry liquid||see notes||see notes||Optional. Makes mixing easier. Use enough to cover and distribute the powder. Rubbing alcohol, isopropyl alcohol (50% or higher), grain alcohol, glycerine, and propylene glycol work. The small amount used has no effect on the characteristics of the juice.|
More ingredient notes:
- Baking powder/baking soda+citric acid. Use either baking powder or a mix of baking soda and citric acid. Baking powder will result in a mix with a bit of sediment. This sediment causes absolutely no problem but some people prefer to use baking soda and citric acid because they prefer not to have the sediment. There seems to be an overall preference for the performance of the mixes with baking powder though the difference can be subtle. You can use more baking powder than recommended but don't use less. The brand seems not to matter.
- Amount of guar. Experiment with the amount of guar gum from 0.5 grams up to an amount where you have overdosed the bubbles to find what works for you. The qualities of the juice (like self-healing and stretch) vary with the amount of guar more extremely than with polymers like PEO. The amount of guar gum that you need will be influenced by the particular guar gum powder you choose, your bubbling equipment, and your own personal preference. Make sure when you start exploring to mix up a few batches with different amounts of guar and determine what you like best. Most people seem to like something in the 0.75 to 1.5 grams per liter water range. I sometimes like a mix with 2.0 grams guar gum per liter water as it seems to allow (under some conditions) considerably longer tubes than the mixes with less guar. However, this mix is pretty thick.
- Type of guar gum. Any guar gum should work. But you will need to experiment with the amount you need since different brands can have different viscosities. I have used two types of guar gum: Bob's Red Mill and Now brand. Both worked well. I prefer Bob's Red Mill because it seems like it hydrates a bit more readily than the Now Brand.
- Amount of detergent. When measuring by volume, I often use only 2 tbsp. of Dawn Pro. Some people use as much as 3.5 tablespoons but I prefer the range between 2 and 2-2/3 tablespoons. The feel of the juice changes. If you like to experiment. Tinker with the amount to get the juice just the way you like it. When it is dry, using the lower range of detergent (counter-intuitive as that may be) will often increase longevity. If measuring by weight, explore 30 - 40 grams detergent per liter of water.
Adjusting the detergent amount Edit
My guar-juice typically uses a 25:1 water-to-detergent ratio. However, there are times where a bit more detergent or a bit more water may be appropriate. In very hot weather, I might use a 32:1 or even 40:1 water:detergent ratio. If I am trying to get the biggest possible bubble from a low or medium capacity loop, I might use 16:1 to 20:1.
When using more detergent, I generally mix up the bubble juice at the standard 25:1 ratio and then add detergent a little at a time in the field until I get the effect that I want. If you pay careful attention to the color profile of the bubbles and add just a little at a time, you can fine tune your mix. See also Dilution.
Amounts for 1 gallon of juiceEdit
If you use gallon jugs for mixing/storing your juice, you can these amounts. Most gallon jugs hold slightly more than one gallon of fluid.
- Guar gum. 1 tsp. | 5 ml | 5.25 grams. Use a bit more or less to suit your preferences.
- Baking powder. 2 tsp or 10 ml. You can use a little more without any problem.
- Alcohol (for slurry). 2 tbsp. | 30 ml.
- Detergent (Dawn Pro). 140 grams | 9.5 tablespoons (or very slightly less) | 1/2 cup plus 1.5 tbsp.
- Water. 3640 ml | 15.5 cups.
NOTE: For measuring ease, I sometimes use 15 cups (which is 3 quarts plus 3 cups) water.
You can use a bit more detergent or a bit less water if you like a less dilute mix. 6 ounces (12 tablespoons or 1/2 cup plus plus 4 tablespoons or 177 grams) yields a 20.5:1 dilution.
Weight vs. volumeEdit
Many bubble juice recipes require fairly precise measurements for consistent results. The guar-based juice is a particularly forgiving mix that displays pretty consistent performance even with the variations that are likely with inexact measurement.
For most people, measuring by volume will result in a bubble juice that makes them very happy. There may be some variations from batch to batch but most people won't detect them.
If you are a stickler for consistency or want to fine-tune performance, measuring your ingredients by weight is the way to go.
On this page, several variations are supplied. The differences are primarily mixing method or measuring method and (unless specifically noted) the performance of all of them should be quite similar. In the recipes, I provide both measurements by weight and by volume. As people have found, this is a very forgiving recipe and if you don't mind slight variations in performance (generally, quite minor) measuring by volume is fine.
If you are a stickler for precision and want your juice to have the same performance from batch to batch, we recommend measuring the ingredients by weight.
If you are an 'optimizer' who wants the "best" bubble juice, experiment with the amount of guar gum. This juice tolerates huge variations in the amount of guar gum and the juice's characteristics are different with different amounts.
The recipes scale well. So, to make more or less of the bubble juice multiply or divide accordingly.
Sediment. If you use baking powder in your mix (which we think is a great ingredient), the bubble juice will develop a bit of sediment at the bottom of your jug or bucket once it sits. Don't worry about it. It is unavoidable, baking powder has some corn starch that just won't dissolve no matter what you do. It causes no problems and does not need to be stirred back into the mix.
Sludge. If a thick viscous layer develops at the bottom of the container, you may have sludge. Sludge is generally the result of incomplete hydration of the guar gum. This can happen if you don't stir the guar solution enough. People often mistakenly think that the guar gum is completly hydrated once it appears to have dissolved. In fact, guar gum continues to hydrate for quite a while after that. If making a quick mix that you use right away, sludge probably won't develop. However, if the guar has not hydrated enough, a sludgy layer may form after days or weeks. To avoid this, make sure to hydrate the guar gum in enough water initially (see the recommendation in the recipe -- basically you want guar to be less than 1% of the initial solution). I also recommend periodically (every few minutes) stirring that guar/water solution that you use for hydration for 20 minutes after the guar and water are combined. This is especially true if you use room temperature water. It is not important if you are using the juice up within a day or two. You might not get sludge anyway. But, you can pretty much ensure that you won't get sludge by following the instructions.
Basic Mix Edit
This mix used to be called the Quick Mix. As of July 2013, it is the basic mix because it is the least prone to problems. Using a slurry makes it unlikely that you will have problems with the guar clumping. It is possible to make the juice without making a slurry (see the original recipe below), but it makes things so easy and scales so well that this is the version most people will want to make.
Time to make: 5 to 20 minutes. If you use room temperature water and measure by volume, you can make this recipe in 5 minutes.
This recipe is so easy that a four year-old can mix it! (If you don't believe me, watch the video!)
- Slurry. Mix guar gum powder and slurry liquid (usually isopropyl/rubbing alcohol) to make a slurry. This distributes the guar gum without it hydrating (dissolving). Use of a slurry avoids the clumps that some find hard to avoid without it. Your slurry should be clump free with just a few stirs. If the slurry is clumpy or paste-like, add more slurry liquid.
- Mix with water. While stirring a portion of the water in a mixing vessel, add the slurry. (Or add a portion of the water to the slurry.)
- Rest (optional). Stir the water/slurry mix for a few minutes and let it rest to build viscosity as the guar gum continues to hydrate. Periodic stirring during the rest period is sometimes done.
- Combine with the rest of the water. Add the guar/water mix to the rest of the water
- Add baking powder (or baking soda and citric acid)
- Add the detergent.
- Have fun!
This is a fussless method for mixing the recipe. There is an even quicker mix described below. Since I have the most experience with this method (as of July 2013), I list it first. When mixed this way, the juice will generally keep for at least a month with no deterioration and is very unlikely to become sludgy. I have had batches that were good 2 months after mixing although I haven't done systematic studies of shelf-life -- we tend to use it up pretty quickly.
The directions below assume that you are using the amounts from the ingredients table above. Makes just over a quart or liter of bubble juice. If you are making double-batches, make sure to increase the water for each mixing stage.
- Measure the guar gum powder into a dry mixing vessel that is big enough to contain at least 250 ml (about 1 U.S. fluid cup) of water. When making a single batch, I use a 1 liter glass measuring cup (which actually holds about 1200 ml).
- Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of the slurry liquid (the alcohol or glycerine).
- Stir the slurry so that it is clump free. It should not be viscous or paste-like. If it is, add a bit more slurry liquid.
- Start stirring the slurry with a chopstick or fork.
- Add 250 ml (about one U.S. cup) of water to the slurry while stirring (very hot water recommended but not necessary. See hot vs. cold water below) while stirring.
- Stir the mix for a minute over two. You don't have to stir terribly vigorously.
- OPTIONAL: for the best results, stir for 10 seconds or so every 5 minutes as the water cools. This is not critical.
- Add 750 ml warm water while stirring. Stir for about a minute. If your mixing container isn't large enough to contain the guar solution and the water, pour the guar solution into a container that contains the remaining water and stir. (If you are using a bottle, turn the bottle end over end for about a minute to ensure that it is well-mixed.
- Add the detergent to the container and gently mix so as to avoid foam.
- Add the baking powder and gently mix. There will be a little bit of foaming. NOTE: some of the baking powder will settle out. The settling is expected as baking powder contains corn starch which is insolube in water.
After adding the baking powder, wait about 15 minutes before using the bubble solution if you can -- though you can start using it right away.
Many people report that the bubble juice improves over the first few days, but who can wait that long!
TIPS. I like to measure all the water that I will use into a container before I mix up the recipe. If you do this, you only have to measure the water once. You can pour about 250 ml of water from the container into a microwavable container without being too precise. And then you can pour the guar solution back into the container.
HOT VS. ROOM TEMPERATURE WATER. While I recommend using very hot water, you can use warm or even room temperature water. Many people use room temperature or warm water and are very happy with the results. I tend to use water heated in a microwave to near boiling or very hot top water (if your tap delivers very hot water) for a few reasons. Hot water does a couple of things. It maximizes the hydration speed and viscosity of the guar gum, and it seems to improve the shelf-life of the bubble juice. If you use hot water, you should not have any issues with a layer settling out over time. If you use warm or room temperature water and your mix develops a distinct sludgy layer, use hot water the next time. I can't vouch for the shelf-life of mixes made with anything cooler than scalding hot water. The shelf-life may be fine, but some people have reported a shorter shelf-life with room temperature or warm water.
Here are the directions for the Quickest Mix. Many people find that this works as well as the standard mix. Thanks to Dr. Sin for the work he has done demonstrating the effectiveness of this method.
- Measure your water (warm or room temperature from the tap) into the jug that you want to store your juice in (or bucket or whatever your preferred vessel is).
- Measure the guar into a small cup/vessel (I used the little plastic cups that take-out restaurants use for dipping sauces and salsa).
- Add rubbing alcohol (or whatever slurry liquid you like) to cover the powder. You want enough liquid so that you can pour the slurry easily.
- Add the baking powder to your water. If using a jug, put the top on the jug and turn end over end a few times. Don't worry if there are clumps of baking powder.
- Pour the slurry into the water. If there is any stuff left in your cup, pour some of the water back into the cup stir and empty into your main container.
- Stir for 30 seconds or turn the jug end-over-end a few times.
- Add your detergent and gently stir or turn the jug end over end a few times to mix. Don't be too vigorous as you don't want foam.
Making this bubble juice is child's play. Four year-old Jakey shows you how:
Here is a good look at a guar/alcohol slurry. This one is being dumped into the water rather than pouring the water into the slurry.
Guar-based juice can be very self-healing as long as you use enough guar gum though. With a lot of guar gum, mixes are very self-healing though more viscous than PEO-based mixes with an equivalent level of self-healing. It is not quite as strongly self-healing as PEO, but with the right level of guar it is very self-healing as evidenced by the video below which uses a juice with 1.5 grams Bob's Red Mill guar per liter of water and no other polymer.
See the Basic Mix above! We replaced the old Basic Mix with the Quick Mix instructions.
Original Recipe (No Slurry)Edit
The recipe in this section was the originally posted recipe. It uses the fewest ingredients of any recipe on the page. It doesn't use a slurry and relies on quick mixing of hot water and the guar powder to avoid clumping. This recipe works great and uses the fewest number of ingredients; however, some people find clumps hard to avoid using this recipe especially if making more than a liter or so of mix. The shape of the mixing vessel may influence how easy it is to mix without clumps.
If you are a minimalist, this is the recipe for you. I mix this recipe by hand, but if you are making large amounts some sort of electric mixer (either a hand blender or drill with a paint mixing attachment)
Over time, it has become apparent that this method works best when mixing small amounts (let's a 1.5 liters or less) of bubble juice and with certain shaped mixing vessels. Unless you have an aversion to using alcohol, use the slurry method.
If making a quart or two or liter or two of bubble juice, you can stir by hand and shouldn't need to make a slurry as long as you follow the directions. For making larger quantities, it is convenient to use a slurry (a mix of guar gum powder and a liquid such as isopropyl alcohol or glycerine in which it doesn't dissolve) and/or an electro-mechanical mixing device such as a blender, hand-blender, magnetic stirrer or drill fit with a paint-mixing adapter.
Directions: NOTE (Aug. 2012): These directions work well to get clump-free hydration without needing an electic mixer or great care in slowly sprinkling the powder as it is stirred. The size and shape of the mixing vessel make a difference. For these directions to work for clump free, hand-stirred mixing, you need a a mixing vessel that is slightly tapered -- such as a pyrex measuring cup. I will add a video showing the mixing prodecure soon. If you experience clumping, use some isopropyl alcohol to make a slurry by pouring the guar powder in the mixing vessel and adding enough alcohol to cover the guar. You don't need to overdo it with the alcohol. It simply serves to keep the guar grains separate while you add the water. For guar gum, "rubbing alcohol" will work fine. It does not require the very dry alcohol that some of polymers do. You can also use glycerine or propylene glycol for the slurry but isopropyl is considerably cheaper and works just as well
Put the dry guar gum powder in a vessel that you will use for mixing.
Remove 100 to 250 ml of the water (1/2 to 1 cup) and heat it till it starts to boil and turn off the heat. If you are using a lot of guar use 250 ml (1 cup) water. If you are using 1 gram or less guar powder, use 100 ml. (Basically you want to make a guar solution in the range of 0.5% to 1.5% by weight).
Start vigorously stirring the dry powder as you quickly pour the hot water into the mixing vessel over the guar. Continue vigorously stirring for a couple of minutes after the mix is lump-free and has started to thicken.
If using baking soda/citric acid, add the powders to the remaining water (that doesn't yet have guar).
If using baking powder, put the baking powder in a little cup and add a bit of the water (several tablespoons -- about 60 to 70 ml -- should be fine) and stir it to remove the lumps. Pour this into the remaining water. [NOTE: you can also wait until the juice is done and add the baking powder at that stage. You can just add the powder and gently stir. It may take a while to become fully-wetted. Don't worry about the undissolved stuff -- there will be some residue that won't dissolve, but that isn't a problem.]
Add the remaining water a bit at a time to the guar solution. This seems to work better than dumping the viscous guar solution into the remaining water. TIP: Once you have added about 200 ml of the remaining water to the guar mix, you can add this thinned mix to the rest of the water if that is more convenient.
Add the detergent and gently stir.
The juice can be used shortly after mixing but may improve if left overnight.
Mixing demonstration. In this video, Thommy mixes up a guar-based mix. For the video, he used an electro-mechanical stirrer. You can mix this recipe by hand (which me mentions in the comments for the video on the YouTube site).
Salty Guar Variant. As documented here , salt can be used as a dispersant to make clumping less likely. Basically, mix the guar powder with about 3 times its volume (or weight -- it isn't critical). This also speeds up complete hydration. Some people report that they feel that the bubbles are better with this mix than others. I can't vouch for that, though.
As documented here, concentrates that have a high percentage (more than about 20%) of detergent do not work and store well. The exact amount of detergent that triggers this MAY be related to both the particular detergent and the amount of guar. If you choose to create a concentrate rather than a fully-diluted juice, make sure that you use at least 5 times as much water as detergent. If the guar settles out as a discrete disc, you need to use more water the next time. If this disc forms, toss out the concentrate. Even when diluted and the juice looks well-integrated, it will not work well.
I have achieved some excellent results with a concentrate that uses 200 grams water, 40 grams Dawn Pro, 1 gram Bob's Red Mill guar gum, 1.0 gram baking soda, 0.5 grams citric acid. You may see some settling. It is ok if a slightly denser layer appears as long as when you turn the bottle over, the layer does not appear to be a discrete disk of "stuff".
A tiny amount of borax added to the guar solution before the detergent can purportedly lead to very effective solutions. However, it can also cause the guar/borax to crosslink so heavily that it falls out of the mix and gathers as a slime layer on the bottom of the bucket. (After all commercial slime is often made from water, guar gum and borax). I have explored this a bit but not yet found a reliable recipe. Keith Johnson has also reported favorable results. If you explore borax in the guar mix, please let me know the results. Edward succeeded once in creating a mix with borax but has (as of September 2013) been unable to reproduce it.
PEO (J-Lube or PolyOx). Some people use guar gum and PEO together. Edward's opinion is that guar/PEO mixes rarely work as well as a well-tune guar-only or PEO-only mix. More than a small amount of PEO tends to result in a juice that works less well than guar only. He recommends that you tune the amount of guar gum or detergent rather than adding PEO if you want to adjust the recipe. If you want to use PEO, try a PEO-only mix such as Mike's Gooey Mix or eGoo before trying a guar/PEO hybrid. On SBF, Thommy has recommended 0.1 to 0.15 grams of J-Lube per liter of water. If using WSR301 that would be 0.025 grams per liter. Or 0.1-0.15 grams of WSR301 per 4000 ml water. Using more PEO than this seems to undermine some of guar gum's good qualities (primarily enhance strength and longevity in low to medium humidity).
To mix the guar, use the hottest water that you can if you are having problems. If you use water that has been brought to boiling temperature (or near it), and pour it over guar gum powder while mixing, you do not need a slurry. You can also sprinkle the guar gum powder into the very hot water while the water is being vigorously stirred. If you are having trouble getting a solution without lumps, use either the slurry method or sprinkle the powder into the very hot water while you are stirring it.
Aids. While not at all necessary, a blender, hand-blender, food processor, milk frother, drill with a paint mixing attachment, or anything similar can be very handy for mixing up guar gum solutions. Start the water moving with your stirring device and add the guar gum powder (or slurry). Using electro-mechanical stirring and very hot water maximizes the viscosity of whatever amount of guar gum you use and speeds hydration considerably.
Slurries. Many people like to make a slurry of guar and glycerine or guar and dry alcohol (above 90% by volume; isopropyl works nicely) propylene glycol to ease mixing. A ratio of 3:1 to 5:1 (liquid:powder by weight)seems to work well. While it does reduce clumping when using only warm water, it seems to make no difference in mixing if you use very hot water for the mix. To make a slurry, put your powder in a container and pour just enough glycerine or dry alcohol to cover the powder. Stir the powder until it is lump free then add very hot (near boiling) water while stirring vigorously. Hand-stirring will work fine as long as it is vigorous and continued for a few minutes. A hand blender work snicely if you have one.
Mixing large amounts. When making a large amount of bubble juice, you may want to either mix the guar in small batches (a few grams of guar and its water) which you then combine or use the slurry method and also some sort of electro-mechanical assist.
Glowby's recommendation. Glowby recommends using a slurry added to the just-boiled water. Once the initial mixing is done, continue stirring the guar/hot water mixture for 15 seconds every 10 minutes until the mixture has cooled. This seemed to create a uniform mix with greater viscosity than a mix only subject to the initial mixing.
All items tagged with the Guar category.