Cold Weather Science – Frozen Bubbles

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

Over the weekend, the girls and I took advantage of the Denver deep freeze to brave the cold and do a little science. We pulled out the summer bubble kit and experimented with what would happen to a bubble when it is 3 degrees outside.

We bundled up and headed outside. The plan was to use plain dish soap to blow the bubbles, but the dish soap we keep with our bubble blowers had frozen too. We quickly discovered that frozen dish soap is an experiment in its self. The water in the dish soap had frozen into crystals in and around the soap solution. As the dish soap defrosted, it became a snow globe. The frozen crystals slowly blobbed and moved around in the soap.

After our dish soap and bubble solution defrosted, we re-bundled up and went outside.

We tried blowing bubbles in the coldest part of the yard, where our bubbles were protected from wind. The bubbles blew all over the place and took off on the wind. We discovered the bubbles that didn’t make it far and landed on the deck, began to freeze. We blew more bubbles and caught them on the blowers. It took about a minute or so for the swirling solution to slow down and eventually stop. As the thin layer of bubble solution froze, it became like celofane. Very thin paper. The bubble didn’t pop when touched, but ripped instead.

Small holes opened up in the bubble skin as the remaining bubble waved in the air. Blow hard on the bubble, and pieces of it float everywhere.

This was really, really cool! The girls continued to blow bubbles and experiment on different surfaces to find the best places to freeze a bubble. We found the bubble wands were ideal, because you could really watch and observe what happened as it froze.

They also experimented with allowing the bubble solution in the wand to freeze. It looked like frozen water or frost on a windowpane.

Our bubble blowing didn’t last long in the sub-freezing temperatures. After about 10 minutes, we went back inside to warm up. The rest of the afternoon the girls commented about how fun the bubble adventure was and how much they wanted to do it again.

How to Blow Frozen Bubbles

  1. Go outside when the temperatures are below freezing 32 degrees F. The colder the better.
  2. Allow your bubble solution to cool before blowing bubbles.
  3. Find a place outside that is cold and protected from the wind.
  4. Blow a bubble and catch it on the bubble wand.
  5. Wait. The bubble won’t freeze immediately. Depending on the temperature outside, it may take a few seconds to a few minutes to freeze.
  6. When the bubble is frozen, touch it lightly and see what happens.
  7. Try making frozen bubbles in other places. What would happen if you carefully put a bubble in the freezer? Or blow it onto dry ice?

 

10 thoughts on “Cold Weather Science – Frozen Bubbles”

  1. If this cold weather sticks around, we are going to have to try this. My daughter loves bubbles in the summer time and would love this experiment.

  2. Steve,
    This is so interesting! I think this is a great idea. My friend knows how to make these bubbles and is making a essay on it. But, I wonder how long would the bubbles last for? Can you make the bubbles in to ice like materials? If we made a bubble what is the biggest size you can make these bubbles?

    1. Hi Bernadette. Thank you for your comments. The frozen bubbles are more durable than regular bubbles but are still pretty fragile. I would think they would last as long as you protected them from dirt and oil and kept them frozen. This sounds like another science experiment! As far as size, we’ve made huge bubbles using a baby pool and a hula hoop. (http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/giant-bubble-experiment). I’m sure these bubbles will freeze at a cold temperature, given time. However, they will be even more fragile and difficult to maintain. Let us know if you try this and what you discover…

  3. Thanks for the fun experiment. We tried it in school today and it was perfect for this cold North Dakota day!! My kids now want to go home and show their families!

  4. Hopefully you did not mean minus 32 degrees F–water should freeze at/below 32 degrees above–Montana winters are cold but not THAT cold! :)

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