Dr. Svec

How to Make Frozen Bubbles

These beautiful, glittering spheres crystallize before your very eyes.

Frozen Bubbles

Photo: Gerri Photography

 

Bubbles in winter? This sounds both counter intuitive and more than a little improbable! But with a bit of patience and the right conditions, you and your kids can make glittering frozen spheres that crystalize right before your eyes. And while they may be fleeting (each bubble lasts only 30 seconds or so), their exquisite shape, colour and ability to reflect light will warm your heart, even on the coldest of winter days.

How to Make Frozen Bubbles

You’ll need to make a winter bubble mix. Mix one cup of dish soap (Joy and Dawn work well) with 1⁄2 cup of corn syrup and 3 cups of water. This makes a more durable bubble solution that responds well to cooler winter temperatures.

Use a conventional bubble wand that you can purchase at any toy store. Very gently blow a bubble. If you can, catch the bubble on the wand and watch it as it freezes. If it is cold enough (- 10 C or colder), you’ll see a lattice work of crystals form around your bubble, almost as if Jack Frost’s frozen fingers magically transformed your creation into a sphere of ice.

The crystals will seem like frozen snowflakes marching across the surface of the bubble. Eventually all of these crystals (each shaped like a six sided hexagon) will coalesce to form a frozen bubble.

If it’s a really cold winter’s day (-15 C or colder), try blowing a bubble upwards into the air and see if it freezes before it hits the ground. If you’re lucky, it might bounce along the ground!
Go outside and experiment with these frozen dancing orbs of ice. They are as beautiful as they are ephemeral.

Bubble Science

When you blow into the wand, your air is both warm and moist. A bubble forms when a thin layer of water is caught between two even thinner layers of soap molecules. The cold air crystallizes the water layer before the soap bubble has a chance to burst.

The cold temperatures means any air trapped inside the bubble will contract and slowly leak out of the bubble, much like a balloon when it deflates. Eventually, the frozen bubble collapses under its own weight. The icy walls of the sphere are unable to support the structure of the bubble and it breaks  like a cracked eggshell.

Frozen Bubble Gallery

Author: Jacob Rodenburg

Jacob Rodenburg is the executive director of Camp Kawartha and the Kawartha Outdoor Education Centre. He also teaches part time at Trent University.

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