As you can see in the pictures, this recipe is capable of creating colossal bubbles. Guar-based juice will often work better than other recipes when the humidity is less than optimal.
Bubble Juice Basics! If you just want to mix up some great bubble juice, continue to the recipe below. If you are someone that likes to experiment or wants to understand how bubble juice works, take a look at the Bubble Juice Basics article.
Having trouble finding Guar Gum? See the Guar Gum article.
IngredientsEditThese 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
- Dishwashing liquid (detergent). The type of dishwashing liquid is critical (see below).
- (optional but highly recommended) baking powder OR other recommended pH adjuster. See related article
- (optional but recommended) isopropyl/rubbing alcohol or other slurry liquid (see details below)
- Water. 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 despite what you may read elsewhere. More about water here.
- Dishwashing liquid (detergent). The dishwashing liquid that you use is critical. I generally use Dawn Professional Manual Pot and Pan or the similar Dawn Pro. In the U.S. and Canada, the Dawn line generally seems to be considered the best. Similar detergents from Procter and Gamble are available under different names in much of the world (but not everywhere). See the Detergent article for recommended detergents.
- Guar gum (powder). The amount of guar gum will influence the 'feel' of the mix. This recipe is based on guar gum powder that's sold under the Bob's Red Mill label. I have also used Now brand guar gum. And users from around the world have used other brands, too. All with success. A pretty wide range of amounts can be used. The optimal amount may depend both on personal preference and the brand that you use. See more in the Guar Gum article.
- (optional) Baking powder (or other pH Adjuster). Baking powder is slightly acidic (and many brands seem to be slightly buffered) which is beneficial to bubble juice. Other pH adjusters can be used, but baking powder is the place to start as nothing works better and it is almost impossible to overdo. It improves the soap film strength, bubble longevity and the ease with which the bubbles can be made. Baking powder will result in some sediment at the bottom of the container (which is just undissolved corn starch). The sediment has no ill-effect, but some people prefer a sediment free look. If this is the case, you can use one of the other pH adjusters discussed here. You can make the bubble juice without these ingredients, but you will find that they improve the juice significantly.
- (optional) Slurry liquid: isopropyl alcohol (or grain alcohol or glycerine or propylene glycol or mouthwash or even detergent). A slurry liquid makes it easy to mix the guar gum without clumping. Guar gum powder tends to clump when it is added directly 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 a 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.
Ingredient Amounts (For About 1 liter)Edit
The table below shows the ingredient amounts for a little more than 1 liter of bubble juice.
|Ingredient||By Weight||By Volume||Comments|
|WATER||1000 grams||1 liter||Tap water is generally best.|
|DETERGENT||40-65 grams||8 tsp. to 13 tsp. (40-65 ml)||Amount assumes a dishwashing liquid equivalent to Dawn Pro (Manual Pot & Pan).
How much should I use? For your first mix, I recommend starting with 50 grams/50 ml (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon), which is a 20-to-1 dilution, as that seems to be a really popular preference. But, I also recommend that you try 16-to-1 and 25-to-1, as well. You might want to try more dilute solutions if you are somewhere hot and/or dry. See Adjusting the Detergent Amount below.
|Guar Gum (powder)||1.5 grams||1/4 slightly heaping teaspoon (0.3ml)||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||2 grams||1/2 slightly heaping teaspoon (about .6 ml)||Optional. Recommended. You may substitute other pH adjusters as discussed here.|
|Slurry liquid||recommended (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 of slurry liquid used has no effect on the characteristics of the juice. Detergent slurry: some people use some of the detergent for the slurry. See more at Slurry-Detergent.|
More ingredient notes:
- 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.
Adjusting the detergent amount Edit
If you get serious about bubbles, you should try this recipe (and really any recipe) with different amounts of detergent. The detergent concentration (dilution) can have a big impact on the bubbles you make: the longevity, the colors and how easy they are to make.
You really have to try for yourself because everyone has a different preference. The "feel" is different at different dilutions, and your wick materials and conditions will have a big impact on how different dilutions (detergent concentrations) work.
I've recommended that you start with 50 grams of a Dawn Pro-equivalent detergent because that is the average preference of people that have shared their experiences. I really like how the bubbles look with 20:1 and 25:1 dilutions (which is 50 grams and 40 grams of detergent per liter water respectively). Some people like16:1 (62.5 grams detergent per liter of water).
In very hot weather, I might use a 32:1 or even a 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.
With a very lightweight loop, such as a single strand of twine, you might get a big size boost (at the expense of color and longevity) going down to 14:1. We recommend trying a number of dilution ratios and seeing what works best for you.
The more soap that you use, the THINNER the resulting bubbles (see Dilution for more about that).
If conditions are excellent, you can use more detergent.
The amount of detergent influences the color profile of your bubbles. See this article for more.
Amounts for 1 gallon of juiceEdit
If you use gallon jugs for mixing/storing your juice, you can use these amounts. Most gallon jugs hold slightly more than one gallon of fluid. These amounts provide about a gallon of juice as they were rounded for easy measurement.
- Guar gum - 1 tsp | 5 ml | 5.25 grams. Use a bit more or less to suit your preferences.
- Baking powder - 2 tsp | 10 ml | 10 grams. You can use a little more without any problem.
- Alcohol (for slurry) - 2 tbsp | 30 ml.
- For 25:1 - 9.5 tbsp (or very slightly less) | 1/2 cup plus 1.5 tbsp | 140 grams.
- For 20:1 (if you like a less dilute mix) - 12 tbsp | 3/4 cup | 6 ounces | 175 grams (ml) [if you like a less dilute mix]
- Water - 15 cups | 3500 ml (15 cups is actually 3548 ml -- which is close enough)
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 to occur 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.
99% of the time, this is the mixing version that I use (as of late 2014). For many people, this method works every bit as well as the more time-consuming Basic Mix. The guar gum recipe is so forgiving that I use measuring spoons for the guar gum and baking powder though I measure the water and detergent by weight.
Thanks to "Dr. Sin" on SBF for the work he has done demonstrating the effectiveness of this simple mix 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. See the note below about using detergent for the slurry.
- Pour the slurry into the water. If there is any stuff left in your cup, pour some of the water back into the cup then 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.
- 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.
Using Detergent as the Slurry Liquid. You can use your detergent for the slurry, too. To do this, measure out your detergent into a container such as a measuring cup. Add your guar gum powder and stir vigorously to fully distribute the powder. Stir in enough of your water that the slurry is pourable. Add the slurry to the rest of the water and continue as directed. See Slurry-Detergent for more about detergent slurries.
Basic Mix Edit
NOTE (FEB. 2017): Over time, it has become clear that for the vast majority of people the 'Quickest Mix' works every bit as well as the "Basic Mix" -- and for many it works even better because the mixing is simpler and less likely to clump. This section needs to be updated as we have found that in some cases using hot water increases the likely of clumping if the water and slurry are not moving sufficiently fast. Prior to July 2013, "Basic Mix" was called the Quick Mix. The old basic mix did not use a slurry which made it more prone to clumping when mixing in larger quantities. 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. You can also slurry the guar gum with the detergent. See the Quickest Mix recipe above for details.
- 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 and pourable. 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)
- Stir the mix for a minute or 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.
- About 15 or 20 minutes after mixing, we recommend stirring the bubble juice for a minute or two. While not absolutely necessary, some people report that it reduces the likelihood of 'slime' settling out. (Some amount of setting is unavoidable and will happen and is perfectly OK).
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!
Baking powder and sediment: most of the baking powder will settle out. The settling is expected and PERFECTLY OK. It does not harm the bubble juice in any way. Baking powder contains corn starch which is insolube in water. Do not bother trying to get this sediment to dissolve. If you find the sediment unpleasing, you can use another form of pH adjustment as discussed in the article on pH Adjusters and Water Conditioners.
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. (Updated Feb. 2017). In previous years, we recommended using very hot water to maximize hydration and to improve shelf life. We have found, however, that in the vast majority of cases, this is not required. In fact, in some cases using very hot water increases the likelihood of clumping. While hydration rate is improved with very hot water, it turns out that that this generally has no impact on the bubble juice results. In fact, we currently recommend the 'Quickest Mix' method since it has been tested side-by-side with 'Basic Mix' batches and performed just the same.
HOT WATER (updated Feb. 2017). Hot water is rarely needed contrary to what we used to recommend. In the early years of this recipe, we believed that hot water was necessary for a stable mix with long shelf-life. With thousands of people having tried variants of this recipe over the years, we have found that hot water is not important in the vast majority of cases. For a small number of people it improves shelf life. (See Shelf Life). For me (Edward Spiegel), I have not had any decrease in shelf life or juice quality since I started using room temperature water. Now, some people do have shelf-life issues where the juice degrades over a period of days, often with a bad odor. If that is the case, use very hot water (just under boiling temperature) for the initial hydration. I must emphasize that this seems only to benefit a very small number of people.
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. 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 will help (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 say 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 procedure 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 other 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 of 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 he mentions in the comments for the video on YouTube).
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 and 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".
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) of salt. This also speeds up complete hydration. Some people report that they feel the bubbles are better with this mix than others. I can't vouch for that, though.
Bubbles88's Quickest Mix. Check out Bubble88's quick mix method for making 3 gallons at a time.
Borax. 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-tuned 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).
Slurries. Slurries (adding guar gum to a liquid in which it does not hydrate) make mixing guar gum a snap. Isopropyl alcohol, glycerine and propylene glycol all work as slurry liquids. If isopropryl alcohol (isopropanol) is availlable (it is very cheap and easily available in the USA), use it. The alcohol does not need to be particularly dry (even rubbing alcohol that is labeled as 50% will work though I use alcohol labeled 95% since it works with other polymers that require very dry alcohol). It has no drawbacks. Many people use glycerine (glycerol), but glycerine has the drawback that it may cause grass to brown. A ratio of 3:1 to 5:1 (liquid:powder by weight) seems to work well. To make a slurry, put your powder in a container and pour just enough of your liquid to cover the powder. Stir the powder until it is lump free. Add some more liquid to make the slurry pourable and add it to your water while the water is being stirred. Detergent: Btw, you can even use detergent as your slurry liquid -- though I prefer isopropanol as it is less work.
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.
Mixing large amounts. When making a large amount of bubble juice, make a pourable slurry (see above) and add the slurry to your water while the water is being stirred. Make sure to stir fast enough that the guar doesn't have a chance to clump.
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.
Sediment/SludgeEditSee also: Guar Sediment.
Sediment. Guar gum-based juice will generally exhibit some sediment formation. This sediment is particularly evident when using baking powder -- which we think is a great ingredient). Don't worry about it. It is unavoidable, baking powder has some corn starch that just won't dissolve no matter what you do. This sediment causes no problems and does not need to be stirred back into the mix. Even if you do not use baking powder, a small amount of sediment is expected with most brands of guar gum due to small amounts of insolubles that do not hurt the bubble juice in any way. As long as the sediment does not become a heavy or discrete layer that does not easily disperse when stirred or shaken, do not worry. Some brands may have more or less sediment, but it does not indicate anything about the juice's effectiveness. This sediment will occur even when using distilled water and a laboratory magnetic stirrer running all night.
Sludge. If a thick viscous layer develops at the bottom of the container, you may have what we call "sludge". Most people won't ever experience sludge, even with minimal stirring. But if you do experience it, there are steps you can do to reduce the likelihood that it will form. Sludge is generally the result of incomplete hydration of the guar gum or cross-linking (which you can induce by adding a small amount of borax). Sludge can form if you don't stir the guar solution enough or use too much or in some as yet unidentified conditions (which may depend on the brand of guar gum and the mineral content of your water). People often mistakenly think that the guar gum is completely 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 (heavier and more viscous than the expected sediment) 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 10 to 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.
Note - Hard Water. Some users have reported that even using the instructions above and below, or other guar based recipes, they develop sludge within hours of mixing. It is possible that such sludge is the result of extreme water hardness. There are some experiments under way to explore whether the sludge issues are related to water hardness. See the Water article for more about water hardness and bubble juice. NOTE (Edward, July 2015): it is appearing that even very hard water is unlikely to result in sludge.
Avoiding sludge. If you are experiencing problems with sludge formation, make sure that you are following our instructions precisely. If you have problems even when mixing as specified, try using distilled water and let us know if that solves your sludge problem. If it does solve your problem, you may still want to use a small amount of tap water in your mix as some people report that distilled water+tap water provides better performance than distilled water alone.
New to bubble juice "brewing" or giant bubbles, these articles may be of interest:
Other articles of interest may be:
- Edward's April 2012 blog entry about guar exploration.
- All items tagged with the Guar category.