Friday, January 17, 2014

Frozen Bubbles

For once in my life I am dying for some cold weather and snow...but only if it lasts a day or two. I have two things I really really want to do. First, my Mother-in-Law made us an AWESOME snow man kit (it seriously is the best), and I'm dying to use it. Second, I really am intrigued by this pin that has been going around Pinterest and I want to try it out:

The Original Pin
Original Photographer:
We've been sitting in unseasonably warm weather (not bragging or anything...okay, maybe a little), so testing this out in it's entirety isn't really possible, but I did find a wikiHow article that says you can do this in the freezer. It just takes 30 minutes. So, while I go mix my bubble solution and test the freezer method of this out, we have a Pinstrosity submission on this from Mary:

It was freezing cold in North Carolina this morning [January 7]!

No, really!  That is a frozen pond behind us.  OK, so it's just a little layer of thin ice coating the top, but still.  And maybe our 10 degree weather at 8:00 am was still a far cry from the wind chills in the -50s in the Midwest, but it's not every day it gets that cold in NC.

With record lows all over the country, everyone in existence seems to have been pinning this:

The idea is that if it's below 32 degrees and you blow bubbles outside, they will immediately freeze and make for beautiful, magic picture taking.

It did not work as planned.

Now, to be honest, I didn't actually read the article before I tried this.  I just pinned a few pretty pictures, grabbed some tiny bottles of bubbles we had left over from Easter baskets and ran outside with them and a camera.  But all I really got was . . . bubbles.  Normal old bubbles.  The blobby soapy kind that float through the air and eventually pop.  They certainly didn't freeze when they hit the air, and (although pictures with bubbles are always fun), the resulting photographs weren't exactly magical.

After we tried this little experiment, I read the article to see if I'd done something wrong.  Was it not cold enough?  According to the article, the original bubble-blower completed this activity with her son when it was 16 degrees, so 10 degrees should have been plenty cold.  Did I not use the right kind of bubbles?  The original article does state that they "mixed up some homemade soap and sent bubbles soaring."  Well, I just used store bought bubbles, not homemade soap, so that could have been a factor.  Still, other similar pins like Life Hack #915 claim, "If your area is ever below 32 degrees this winter, go outside and blow bubbles!  They instantly turn to ice!" without directing you to use any particular type of bubble or soap.

At the end of the day (well, morning) we still had fun blowing bubbles and taking pictures by the frosty pond, but the bubbles certainly did not "instantly turn to ice," nor were there any intricate ice designs or magic fairy tale shapes.

Sad day. Well...not completely. Can bubbles be sad? But sad day that they didn't turn into awesome frozen bubble crystal balls. 

I'm not sure why Mary's bubbles didn't freeze. At first I thought it was possibly because of her store bought bubble solution rather than homemade, but Tammy at Housing a Forest tested this and says that store bought solution and homemade solution performed about the same.  She also said, "Ok so I was expecting to blow bubbles and feel like I was standing in a winter wonderland with frozen floating orbs all around me.  Ha!  I think that Pinterest made this one look so easy that I never assumed that we would struggle to get a bubble to actually freeze.  About 1 in ever 15 bubbles that we blew actually froze.  We were surprised by that since it was -33F.   But don’t get discouraged, we had a blast experimenting and will be trying it again soon.  I just think my expectations might have been a little distorted;)" 

Here are Tammy's tips for getting bubbles to freeze:
  • The colder the temperature the better.  We were blowing our bubbles at -30 F but I have heard it working at -12 F.
  • Find an area that is sheltered from the wind. Even the slightest breeze will carry your bubble.
  • Blow the bubbles high in the air so that as they float to the ground they have time to freeze.
  • Depending on your temperature/weather ~ it can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few moments for the bubbles to freeze and start forming crystalline patterns.
  • We had the most success with catching our bubbles on the bubble wand.  Most of the ones that fell to the ground shattered.
  • Try blowing bubbles early in the morning or in the evening.  This is the colder part of your day and will help your bubbles stay frozen.
  • Wave your wand instead of blowing into the wand to make bubbles.  The warm air from your lungs causes the bubble to take longer to freeze.
  • Patience and persistence.
I also found a forum where photographers were discussing and testing this. Here are the tips that forum poster giantmike gave (some relate to the bubbles, some to photography):

Things I learned from 3 minutes of playing (that's all the time I had): 
1. I need a better soap solution. The one I have doesn't make good bubbles. I am going to look into adding Karo Syrup, to see if that strengthens the bonds. 

2. We had a spell of warm weather which made the snow icy. Whenever a bubble hit the ice topped snow, it would shatter. I need some fresh/soft snow to hopefully make these fall gently 
3. At these temperatures, the sun shine didn't seem to matter. The article talks about the sun instantly melting the bubbles, but it's too cold for that here :) 
4. Having a second person to blow the bubbles while I run around with the camera could help a LOT. 
5. A gelled wireless flash in one hand could be useful for lighting the bubbles in interesting ways. 

Later he also added these tips:

1. Big bubbles are the enemy. They are weaker than smaller bubbles. Big bubbles popped when they hit the new soft snow of today. The little bubbles more often stayed for a bit. 

2. It's really helpful to let the bubble solution cool down. If you have it at room temperature (70F), it takes a while to freeze down to -10F. Instead, if its cooled down to 40F, that is a lot less cooling needed to freeze the liquid. 
3. The Karo syrup recipe worked ok, but not really that much better than store bought bubbles. 
4. Manual focus is your friend, as these bubbles didn't give much to focus on (at least not with the light from overcast skies) 

Still are a little leery of this? Here are two YouTube videos where you can watch the bubbles freeze. 

So there's video proof of this happening. It can work.

So now let me tell you how my freezer test worked.
I made my bubble solution out of water and baby shampoo. It took me a few tries to get a bubble to not pop on the plate. I learned that smaller bubbles were better than large bubbles. At last I had a bubble on the plate, so I carefully stuck it in the freezer and gently shut the door. 1 hour later (I sorta forgot about it...), I opened the freezer door and...
 ...the camera wouldn't focus.'s a frozen bubble!!

So I took the plate out of the freezer to see if the camera would focus with the plate on the counter. Pretty quickly the bubble started shriveling up...and this was all I got on the camera.

But bubbles it did work to freeze the bubbles in the freezer. No, it wasn't as cool or pretty as if it were outside and I could watch them freeze, but it was cool to see a frozen bubble anyway.

Have you ever tried to make frozen bubbles? Did it work?


  1. I meant to get some bubble solution when we were having the polar vortex weather the past few weeks but I forgot. I think it might also work better if the temperature has been extremely cold for a period of more than a day or two.

  2. My 8-yr old did this early last week when we were in the midst of the deep freeze here in northern Ohio. We stood, very bundled up, on our enclosed on 2 sides / screened on 2 sides back porch, where the wind wouldn't get to us. We were able to get every bubble we blew to freeze... but it was so cold as to be unsafe to be out longer than 5 mins. If we caught them on the wand, we could watch it happen, but if they were left to float, they would fall straight to the ground and shatter. Not pop, shatter like thin ice. It was incredibly cool! However, NOT worth putting up with those kinds of temperatures to accomplish!!

  3. The only thing that comes to my mind is that most bubble solutions contain glycerin which slows down freezing. Loved the second video!

  4. I've made bubble solution a lot in the past & always had better results w/ a glycerin solution

  5. I love the icey layer in the her first picture of the lake. I think that is cooler that then bubble (which I also think are cool)

  6. We did this during the polar vortex that came through at the beginning of the month! The first round, with the cheap bubble solution, did not work at all---they were too thin. But then we tried it with the Crayola colored bubble solution & it worked great! Not only did we get some cool frozen bubble pictures, but with the bubbles being colored, they really stood out even better against the snow. We're supposed to have even colder weather in the next couple of days (someone please send spring!!! LOL) and we will do it again. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.