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29.01.2022

Why do bubbles burst?

Each of us bursts bubbles during the show. It's an inevitable process. That's the nature of a soap film. But the special ability of the bubble show performer is to predict when the bubble will burst, why it will burst and how to prolong its life. In this article, I would like to consider the main factors of premature bursting of bubbles. It will help each of us to make our show brighter and will simplify our work.
So, the main factors that affect the quality and quantity of bubbles are:

1. External environment conditions.
2. Preparation of the solution.
3. The technique of performing tricks.

We will consider all factors step-by-step and will try to understand how we can avoid this problems and what we need to do before or during the show to save the performance.

I will tell you from the personal experience that there are no identical bubbles, no identical shows, and absolutely no identical behaviour of a soap film. They are all different. It's very important to take into account many factors in each case: what the technique of working with a soap film is, what temperature and humidity the air is, what time of year it is, whether there are pollutants in the air and so on. That's why it's impossible to give universal advise that would help everyone. But there are general tips and recommendations, following which you can decrease the chance of a soap film bursting. Let's look at the main factors why bubbles burst.
Features of the external environment.
Temperature and humidity.

The longest and the most beautiful bubbles are inflated in windless weather, when the temperature of air is +10 degrees Celsius, if it has recently rained. Also perfect weather conditions are on the ocean shore in windless calm, when the sun has not yet risen or at sunset on a cool day. You can find many videos with the similar conditions on the internet. They really amaze with their beauty and fascinate viewers.
But you and I have to work on events, in restaurants, small apartments and in the heat of the sun outdoor. Sometimes we have to work in concert halls under dusty wings with overheated and very dry air. Of course, the environment at the celebrations is always not ideal.

It would be great to humidify and cool the air in the room before work. It can be done with a regular ventilation in the cool and humid season of the year. Or we can use conditioners and humidifiers. Many professional performers measure the temperature and humidity of the air to adjust it before performing. It's time-consuming process and not every performer is ready for that. But if you have a desire, abilities and power, then it makes sens to take a thermometer and a hygrometer with yourself. In any case, if the room is stuffy and hot, airing or cooling the room will not hurt. It's even better to be able to humidify the air by: using humidifiers, boiling dry ice, a steam generator, or, at worst, a spray gun.

ИAnd the common fear of drafts is not a reason for panic. You can try to work with the circulation of the air. Especially if it's just an open window. We adopt our program to the wind direction and can continue to work. Obviously, we don't talk about a squall wind and 33 air conditioners, blowing from all sides.

I would also like to point out that spotlights are an additional danger on large stages. They heat the air pointwise and the liquid evaporates almost instantly. Try not to perform under the light spots from such spotlights. If it's hot for you, it's also hot for bubbles. Then the temperature of the air should be lower and the humidity should be even higher.
If the air temperature is high during the performance, the air is dry or the heating system is turned on, there is a risk of several dozens of bubbles, being burst. If the air in the room is dry, the bubbles burst faster. The beginners often think that the stronger solution will help them. It's a misconception. The soap film in such rooms loses more moisture, so rather there should be more water in the solution. A more liquid solution works better in very dry rooms. As I already said, sometimes spray guns can be used. But there are doubts that they work productively. Spraying moisture often helps to get confidence that everything will work out and an extremely short-lived humidifying effect. But you must agree, that this is better than having nothing at all.
Open air performances.

Street performances are a separate magic. One additional problem to those that have been described before (as a humidity and a temperature) is adjustment for wind, sun and high air temperature. But it's almost impossible to deal with this conditions. Therefore, you need to carefully choose the equipment, the tempo of working with props, take into account the diameter of the racket, wind speed, humidity and air temperature.
The presence of pollutants in the air.

Another invisible enemy for a soap film is silicone. For instance, it can be silicone. Various masks, hand creams, face creams, concealers, aerosols, perfumes, disinfecting gels and so on contain it. Try to avoid the contact of the solution with the viewer's hands skin, and also wash your hands before work. Don't use aerosols, perfumes and deodorants. Make sure that there is no automatic perfuming in the room. Because it's impossible to handle with the situation when the silicone reaches the solution. Only radical measures can help in this situation: replace the spoiled solution with a new one. That's why I always take a spare container with a solution. Before each performance in the dressing room or in the corridor, I check the solution. If I see that it is spoiled, I can replace it with a new one. It gives me confidence.
Unfortunately, it was not always this way. I have some unfortunate stories, when silicone spoiled my bubble shows and even a huge event in St. Petersburg. Therefore, pay careful attention to the cleanliness of hands, equipment and air.

Another more noticeable enemy is dust. Bubbles are inflated very badly in dusty rooms. One fleck of dust is enough to burst even the biggest bubble. Dust can be on the floor and it fly up after people walk. There are often dusty wings on the stages. Pay attention to this. If you see the wings, check in advance if they are dusty. If there is dust on the wings, then you should rearrange your program so that you will start to perform after the dust settles.
Some history facts

One of the founders of the Soap Bubble Shows is Pep Bou (from Spain). He has been doing fascinating bubble shows for more than 40 years. He told that he stopped his shows several times and postponed large show-programs because of the lack of humidity or high temperature of air on the stage.

It's clear that we can't pospone the wedding, birthday and other events, but you should always have a plan "B".

The proximity of the kitchen with an open fire and poor ventilation.

An open kitchen has a bad effect on the quality of soap bubbles when products of combustion get into the air. If the performance takes place in a room where food was cooked or there is an open source of heat nearby, then the room must be ventilated before the performance and you should try to stay as far away as possible. Moreover, if there is a wood-fired grill, an oven or similar things nearby, the air warms up unevenly and moves chaotically around the room. This condition further complicates the work of the performer.
Poor quality of a bubble solution, improperly prepared solution.
There is already a big and detailed article on this topic in my blog. I advise you to read it very carefully "Soap Bubble Show Solution".

But I will point out the highlights again.

You should pay careful attention to the technology of manufacturing the solution. The durability and the elasticity of the soap bubbles depends on its quality. Therefore, it affects on the tricks that you can perform with the soap film.

The bubbles will burst if the solution for them is used at a very low temperature or if it's severely supercooled. The cold solution works badly in the biggest part of recipes for making bubble solution. Therefore, it's important to pay attention to the temperature while preparing the solution. Pay attention to the colour. The strongly supercooled solution has a shady color. Using such solution, you inflate bubbles badly and they burst quickly. You can heat the solution to the room temperature to solve this problem.

Some advice. To heat the cooled solution, add hot water into a large container and put a balloon with the solution in it for 5-10 minutes. To make the solution work again you should control the process of heating. After heating, the solution will start working.
It's necessary to understand which qualities of the solution are important for the trick. And you should learn how to see the reason why the bubbles burst. The possible problem could be that there is the lack of the soap or there is too much soap in the solution. Degradation of polymers may occur or the solution will change its PH. Also, problems may occur due to the use of low-quality water with an overabundance of salts.
Imperfect technique of performing the bubble trick.
Each trick requires careful working out. It's like driving a car. With jerky steering movements, you can't reach a smooth and calm ride. You need to practice many hours to get this skill. The more complicated the trick, the more time it will take to work it out.

Advice to beginners, do not overload the program with complex tricks that you perform with an unstable result. Work them out first, and then show them. As a magician shows a trick only when it's ok to watch.
Collision with a dry surface.

The soap film often bursts when it collides with a dry surface. You need to wet all of the surfaces, that can come into contact with the soap film, well. You should have everything in soap: palms, fingertips, other areas. Only in this case you can get a stable soap bubble. The bend of the racket, the edge of the light table should also be wetted well. New props may not absorb moisture well, make sure to test it before the performance.
Conclusions.
I can conclude that not only the beginners, but also the experienced performers who assemble large halls, face the problem of bursting bubbles. I want to quote Pep Bou and tell you one story.
When Pep Bou came to our event, we initially met each other at our house. Alexey told me to show him a few tricks, that I can perform, and show him the equipment. To be honest, it was incredibly exiting and even scary for me. I started to work with a soap film and a lot of things didn't work out. I started to worry even more. Then Pep asked me a question: "Why are you worried?" I said that I was worried that the bubble would burst at the wrong moment. Then he said to me that "the beauty of bubbles is that they burst. If they didn't burst at all, then our work wouldn't be so exiting. It wouldn't be a trick anymore. Therefore, you need to strive to perform the trick, but if the bubble bursts, you don't need to be nervous. You need to start all over again or move on to the next trick." And one more quote: "The master is in no hurry". Remember these wise words. They affected me like psychotherapy. Now I'm following these tips.
In this article, we have examined the main factors that affect the quality of bubbles. These factors affect your calmness and confidence.

1. If you see that something goes wrong during the trick, you should analyze what is happening. But it's even better to run through a kind of checklist before the start of the performance. Exclude external factors, such as: dust, temperature, dryness, pollutants in the air, drafts.
2. If you notice that you technique is not good enough during the performance, study and train. Watch videos of people, performing the tricks, attend master classes, remember that only constant practice gives results. Examine your makeup bag: cosmetics, aerosols that you use, the reason of you fail may be in them.
3. If you have eliminated all the problems, but the bubbles still burst, reconsider the technology of preparing the solution. Having eliminated all the problems, try to pay attention to the process of preparing the solution. Check the solution at home after preparing it, before leaving and before going to the stage. You should have a spare tank with a solution that you can use next time by preparing a new spare solution. The problem with the solution is the most difficult to identify.
So, each of the factors, mentioned above, can be the reason. For a calm and high-quality work, rehearse more. Study your solution, get used to it, go through the further adjustment. Each solution has its own character. The more action, practice, confidence, the more interesting the performance will be. Get pleasure from the things you do and love what you're doing.
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