Save Money and Reduce the Plastic Packaging in this Old-Fashioned Fun
by Rebecca Rockefeller
It’s a fact that kids (and a lot of adults) love to blow bubbles. It’s also a fact that the most of the plastic bottles, caps, and bubble wands that come with store-bought bubble solution are not recyclable. This doesn’t mean, though, that you need to give up on the fun of bubbles in order to walk your talk when it comes to green living. The next time your kids come home from a birthday party with a jar of bubble solution as a favor, don’t toss the container and wand when the bottle runs dry. Refill it with DIY bubble solution, and then go one better and make your own bubble sets with wands from fully recyclable (in your local scrap metal bin) metal and small reused jars or even plastic yogurt tubs (if you haven’t discovered the ease and joy of DIY plastic-free yogurt in small or large glass containers, that is) for the bubble liquid.
We set out to see if the recipes online would work with ingredients that are commonly available in recycled and recyclable plastic bottles. While this isn’t a plastic-free endeavor, it does significantly reduce the amount of plastic when compared with commercial bubble solution. Most municipalities with recycling programs will accept the empty dish soap and corn syrup containers when you’re truly done using and reusing them, and you’ll save money to boot.
Does this really work? Yes, it does! If the proportions in the recipe below, based on this one from hellobee.com, don’t work for you, try one of the many others available online – BubbleBlowers.com has a great round-up of variations on the DIY Bubble Solution theme here.
Make your own bubble solution:
- 2 1/2 cups clean tap water
- 1/2 cup liquid dish soap (see below for notes on brands we tested)
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup or glycerine (start with 1/4 cup glycerine and adjust from there)
- Whisk water and corn syrup or glycerine together until syrup is completely dissolved.
- Gently stir dish soap into solution.
- Pour solution into a glass jar or bottle and let it rest overnight or for at least 2 hours for best results.
Notes: We tested Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Pure Castile Soap and Dawn Pure Essential Dishwashing Liquid. Both worked well, especially after the finished solution had rested overnight. The Dr. Bronner’s made lovely large bubbles that lasted long enough to float over our house and away, while the Dawn seemed better at delivering multiple small bubbles from a single dip into the solution.
Make your own wands:
- Spool of soft wire from your local hardware store – We used 24 ga. annealed steel, but stainless steel, copper, and aluminum should all work, and should each be lead-free
- Wire cutters
- Cut the desired length of wire from the spool. You’ll need less with thick wire, probably about 1 foot, while thin wire works best if it’s folded over onto itself, which requires about 2 feet of wire.
- Gently bend one one of the wire into a small loop or loops – We made 3 loops here, but 1 will do the trick alone. Note: If you’re working with thin wire, find the middle of the wire and gently bend it there to create a small loop. Then have someone hold this loop while you twist the two sides of the wire together loosely to increase the overall strength; form the rest of the loops with this doubled/twisted wire. Thick wire will be sturdy enough on its own, no doubling required.
- Form a larger loop on the other end of the wire.
- Wrap any extra wire back down around the handle for increased strength and ease of handling.
- Fold the end of the wire over or tuck it into place with a pair of needle-nose pliers to hide the sharp point.
- Blow bubbles, then rinse and dry your wand when you’re done. Cared for properly, it should last for years.
Get even more frugal childhood less plastic ideas from the Childhood Inspiration section of our Trash Backwards app! If you have a favorite tip that’s not included there, please let us know – We’d love to link to your blog or article, too!