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Did you know that you can make your own GLOWING bubbles? SO COOL! This special bubble solution is easy to mix up with a few simple ingredients, and a black light (we’ll show you where to get one) will make the bubbles glow.
Glowing bubbles are so awesome and fun to watch! Plus, our bubble solution makes long-lasting bubbles, so you’ll really be able to enjoy them.
This project was sort of a rabbit trail from something else we were working on. We’re in the middle of creating a spy unit (coming very soon!), and while doing a quick Google search for things that glow under a black light, I found out that you can make bubbles glow by using the ink from a highlighter. Well, that sounded like it would be right up our alley!
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The article I read did not provide an exact recipe for glowing bubble solution, but it sounded easy enough to figure out. And it was – my first try was a big success!
How to Make Glowing Bubbles
Bubble Solution Ingredients:
Step 1: Soak the highlighter insides in water.
Use a knife to open the plastic case on the highlighter. This is an ADULT JOB! My husband took care of this step. He made a slit the length of the highlighter and then used a screwdriver to pop the white cap off the end. Pull out the felt inside that is soaked with highlighter ink. Place it in a small amount of water. We used a disposable plastic container for this step and added the amount of water shown.
Step 2: Add bubble solution to make a 50/50 mix.
Step 3: Test your bubble solution. If the bubbles aren’t strong enough, power it up by adding dish soap (washing up liquid, for my UK readers) and glycerin. Our 50/50 mix resulted in bubbles that broke instantly before we could even look at them. I added 1 Tablespoon of Dawn dish soap and 1 Tablespoon of glycerin.
The glycerin gives the bubbles their strength, and the dish soap makes the bubble solution more bubbly.
Another option is to just add more bubble solution. However, if you dilute the highlighter ink too much, your bubbles won’t glow. I added dish soap and glycerin because I had them on hand, and I already knew they work well to make a good bubble solution. Our bubbles were big, and many did not even pop on the grass. This gave us lots of time to examine them with the black light.
Your bubble solution can be used right away, but it works even better if you let it sit a couple hours. Then go blow some bubbles!
I would recommend doing this outside after dark. So much fun!
The bubble solution will make your skin glow if it lands on you, but it’s not visible without the black light. Still, we limited the actual bubble blowing to parents or teens (we have 2 teenagers now!) because we didn’t want it spilling all over the place. The younger kids got to hold the black lights (we bought 2).
Regular bubbles are cool enough, but the shapes and the intersections between bubbles are really clear with these glowing bubbles. They are fun to observe! We noticed that the bubbles that landed on the grass appeared to be slowly rotating.
One more photo… they’re just so cool!
The Science Behind It – Why Do these Bubbles Glow Under a Black Light?
Highlighter ink glows under a black light (UV radiation) because it fluoresces. Fluorescence is when a substance gives off radiation while being exposed to a source of external radiation. In the case of the highlighter ink, the ink absorbs UV rays (short wavelength) from the black light and then emits visible light waves (longer wavelength).
This is different from phosphorescence, where light is emitted even after the exposure to radiation ends, such glow-in-the-dark plastic stars or glow-in-the-dark stickers. Another example of phosphorescence is the light that comes from glow sticks.
There are many substances that fluoresce under a black light. Some examples are laundry soap, white paper, cotton balls, teeth, vaseline (petroleum jelly), honey, some types of flowers, and bodily fluids. A black light is very handy for finding pet urine in the carpet, but I don’t recommend shining it around the bathroom that your four boys share. Just saying. Eeek.
Want more awesome science ideas?
Make some Instant Hot “Ice” out of baking soda and vinegar. This is a fun science experiment with a big wow factor!
Build a Bottle Rocket that REALLY Soars! You probably have everything on hand to do this experiment, or if you are like us and don’t keep soda around, you might have to “sacrifice” for science and drink some. This rocket flew higher than our 2-story house!