How-To: Make chemiluminescent soap bubbles

Fun & Games Science

No photos yet. That’s a homework assignment for the bubble chemists in the audience. But I couldn’t resist sharing my excitement over this paragraph from US patent 5,246,631 for glowing soap bubbles:

An example of practice of the present invention involves using a liquid dish such as LEMON JOY available from Procter & Gamble Company (Cincinnati, Ohio). Although the LEMON JOY may be diluted with varying amounts of water, it is preferred that the dishwashing liquid be used at full strength. Approximately 9 milliliters of CYALUME solution made in accordance with the manufacturers instructions are added to approximately 120 milliliters of the dishwashing liquid. Although this particular mixture may be used to produce adequate self-illuminated bubbles, it is preferred that 3 to 4 drops of glycerin be added to the solution as a bubble hardener. The solution is then ready for use to form self-illuminated bubbles.

I’ve never actually measured how much Cyalume (Wikipedia) is in a standard glow-stick, but I’m betting you could come up with 9 mL of the stuff by cutting open two or three at most.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).