This is what happens when you blow soap bubbles and record them at freezing temperatures…
At first, I was skeptical, but now I know why millions of people are raving about this video of soap bubbles at freezing temperatures. The bubbles take on a life of their own!
One photographer, Chris Ratzlaff, has practiced to perfect the art of freezing soap bubbles. It takes some practice to recreate these effects, but is completely worth the effort.
“Bubbles are such ephemeral things,” he says. “To be able to literally freeze them in time is such a rare experience.”
The science of freezing soap bubbles is interesting and worth a look. Each bubble is made of three layers: a think layer of water molecules caught between two layers of soap. The designs that appear are actually forming on the innermost layer of water, as the soapy layers freeze at colder temperatures than the water layer.
The bubbles, unfortunately, do not last for long. As ice crystals are formed, cracks form as well. Any air trapped inside finds an escape route and, as internal pressure decreases, the bubble can impode and burst.
Before the bubbles pop, Ratzlaff takes photos and videos of the freezing process. “Watching the ice crystals dance across the surface of the bubble as they freeze is mesmerizing,” he says. “When you photograph them, they look like tiny little planets. It fires the imagination.”
Here is another amazing version:
Popsci has posted instructions on how to recreate these bubbles for yourself:
Warning! Temperatures must be cooler than -13 Fahrenheit to work!
- Time: 2 hours
- Cost: $10.00
- Difficulty: Easy to medium
Tools + Materials:
- Bowl and spoon
- 200 milliliters warm water (for freezing)
- 35 ml corn syrup (for thickness)
- 35 ml dish soap (for bubble formation)
- 2 tablespoons sugar (for crystallization)
- 1 plastic straw
- Squeezable bottle (optional)
- Mix liquids and sugar in a small bowl, and store in the freezer. Lowering the mixture’s temperature will help your bubbles freeze faster when they land. After 30 minutes, take the bowl out and give its contents another stir.
- Find a cold, textured surface to stick your bubbles. Ready, aim, and fire! Blowing bubbles with a straw rather than a store-bought dipstick will create less sticky, frozen mess.
- If you really want to go for it, you can rig the straw to a squeezable bottle (see Ratzlaff’s version above). The breath you exhale will be much warmer than the ambient air inside the bottle. So this method can help keep your bubble mix cold as it floats to its final resting place.
- Be patient! “Even with the perfect formula, many bubbles will pop before you’ll have one that freezes for you,” says Ratzlaff. “The slightest breeze can pop them.”