Update 18th June 2016 - Since writing this Instructable I have made MUCH better giant bubbles with the recipes from http://soapbubble.wikia.com/wiki/Recipes. Both the Guar Gum recipe and the eGoo super concentrate work very well, with ingredients sourced from Amazon and eBay (I also bought a cheap school science scale to weigh out the eGoo ingredients). I'm in the UK and have figured out that Fairy Platinum is the UK washing up liquid to use. It's worth noting that the Soap Bubble Wiki also has an associated forum which is very active and helpful. Cheers Carl
My boy's 6th birthday was looming and we wanted to do something different than hire a bouncy castle and hand out party bags full of plastic rubbish and sweets. We had a joint science/makey party some friends whose boy's birthday fell at the same time as ours.
My contribution was giant bubble wand kits, which the kids built during the party, and some bubble juice to take home.
This is not a new idea!
I made a UK version of http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-giant-bubbles/ ingredients for the bubble juice. I made wands a bit like those on http://www.designdazzle.com/2011/07/summer-camp-giant-bubbles-kit-tutorial-with-free-printables/ (there is a "secret ingredient" mentioned on design dazzle and I am beginning to suspect it might work even better, so I have ordered some.
I've just discovered a wiki devoted to giant bubbles which looks like a fantastic resource for recipes etc http://soapbubble.wikia.com/wiki/Soap_Bubble_Wiki
Step 1: Bill of Materials
2x 12mm dowel cut into 45 cm lengths (with pilot hole drilled in the top) - £1.20 Wickes
1x 45cm & 1x 90cm pieces of Double braided cotton piping - £0.25 (ebay)
2 x Screw Eyes 30mm Pack - £0.18 (Screwfix)
1 x Washer (eg M10) - £0.10
Total per wand: £1.73
The wand plans are similar to those here, http://www.designdazzle.com/2011/07/summer-camp-gi...but i used shorter lengths of string to make it easier for the kids to make bubbles (cotton piping)
These amounts were scaled down for the take home concentrate and scaled up for the big party batch - you will need more than this for your party - read on!
6 cups tap water (distilled may work better)
1/2 cup green Original Fairy Liquid (washing up liquid) - Wilko - £0.20
1/2 cup corn flour (corn starch in USA) - Sainsburys - £0.20
1 tbsp baking powder (not baking soda) - £0.13
1 tbsp Glycerine (available from Chemists like Boots - £1.40 a bottle) - £0.14
1 bottle of water (just needed to get the empty bottle!) - £0.15
Total per Bubble Juice Take Home Trial set - £0.83
This recipe is from http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-giant-bubbles/
I've just discovered a stack of new recipes to try here http://soapbubble.wikia.com/wiki/Soap_Bubble_Wiki
Saw for cutting dowel
Sand paper or sander to remove rough ends after cut
Drill and small bit for pilot holes
Computer and Printer for labels (optional)
Double sided sticky tape to affix label to bottles, or glue (optional)
Labels and Sharpie mark so kids could mark the wands they made
Step 2: Making the Bubble Juice Concentrate Take Home Bottle (instead of 'party Bags'!)
I made the juice according to http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-giant-bubbles/ recipe and instructions.
I made some batches (x15) into 500ml bottles for the kids to take home.
To make 500ml - concentrate for kids to take home
2 cups water
1/4 cup Original Fairy Liquid washing up liquid
1/4 cup of corn flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp glycerine
Put the water in a bowl and then stir in the corn flour and baking powder until it's smooth. Then add the washing up liqud and glycerine. Stir gently (avoid frothing it up) and pour into the bottle.
Repeat this 15 times!
(actually I made 2 batches at a time but you will find your own way of mass production I'm sure)
Using the concentrated bubble juice
Before use, another cup of water needs to be added. Also, worth noting that the corn flour settles in these bottles after a short time. This is ok. The bottles just need gently turning and stirring before use.
Here is the label wording I used...
"Gently turn the Bubble Juice a few times to mix it (don’t shake it). Pour it into a bowl and add a glass of water. Ideally leave to stand for about an hour and then have a go at making some giant bubbles!!!
I've tried to attach the label file above (not sure that worked exactly as I had intended) just in case you are in a hurry!
Step 3: Making the Party Size Batch of Bubble Juice
12 cups tap water
1 cup green Original Fairy Liquid (washing up liquid)
1 cup corn flour
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp Glycerine (available from Chemists like Boots - £1.40 a bottle)
Put 6 cups of water in a bowl and then stir in the corn flour and baking powder until it's smooth. Then add the remaining water, washing up liquid and glycerine. Stir gently (avoid frothing it up).
Following advice from http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-giant-bubbles/ I let the mixture settle for at least an hour before use (in fact I made it the night before). The flour elements do settle very quickly and need stirring back into the mixture for best results (this happened even during the party)
I split the mixture into 2 washing up bowls for use during the party to avoid overcrowding at the juice point and general brawling.
Step 4: Make Wands From 'kit' With the Kids
During the party, when it was my turn to do an activity I showed up with my science goggles (optional!) and demonstrated my big bubbles. I asked the kids who wanted a go. Most did. So they I said, 'first you have to make your own wands'.
Each kid got a kit with 2 dowels (with a pilot hole pre-drilled in one end), 2 screw eyes, 2 bits of piping (different lengths) and a washer.
I'm sure it's pretty obvious what to do but pay attention to step 2:
1. screw in one wire eye into each dowel
2.the short length of piping is the top section of the wand loop. Thread the piping through the wire eye and tie to the bigger length of piping(*). MAKE SURE YOU TIE THE KNOTS ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE SHORT TOP SECTION OF PIPING. Take a look at the picture above. When the kids hold the wands and pull them apart you want the knots to act as stoppers so the piping loop opens out nicely (it's not critical you can always experiment but it seems to work better this way).
(* Knot tip, a reef knot is a good one to use for this. It's nice and chunky and it releases quite easily even when the piping is wet.)
3. Before you make the second knot, add the washer to the longer length of piping. This acts as a weight helping to form a nice big opening for bubbles to be formed in.
It turned out that at 6 years old, some kids could almost do this for themselves. Some were less able to, or were generally less enthusiastic about the crazy guy with the bubbles and wanted to go on the swing. But basically any kids, aged 6, who are a bit patient and sit down to focus could do this quite easily. I think they get much more satisfaction from making these things themselves.
Step 5: Giant Bubbles Time!
Then we played bubbles!
I had made the bubble juice the night before and gently stirred it in the morning. The bubble juice concentrate and wands went home with the kids instead of the usual plastic rubbish we put in 'party bags'. We had some good reports back of kids showing their families how to make bubbles!
If I were doing this again, and face it, these are giant bubbles so that is a certainty, I would experiment with some of the more exotic and difficult to get hold of ingredients. 'Personal Lubricant' seems a popular choice for giant bubbles. You really should check this out for more recipes, science and enthusiasm - http://soapbubble.wikia.com/wiki/Soap_Bubble_Wiki