How to Make Glowing Bubbles

How to Make Glowing Bubbles
Learn how to make glowing bubbles that either really glow in the dark or else glow under black light.

It’s easy to make glowing bubbles that either really glow in the dark or else glow under a black light. Here are several recipes for glowing bubbles, a look at the pros and cons for each recipe, and a video showing what you can expect from each technique.

Glow in the Dark vs Glows Under Black Light

Bubbles that glow when all lights are off do so via phosphorescence, while bubbles that need black or ultraviolet light glow from fluorescence. In both cases, electrons get excited by energy from light and then emit photons (the glow) when they return to a more stable state. But, phosphorescence releases light for seconds to hours (depending on what you use), while fluorescence is so fast that you need a constant light source.

When you blow bubbles that glow in the dark, you still need light to charge the bubble solution. Use either bright sunlight, a bright flash light, or a black light. Then, turn out the lights and blow the bubbles. Or, if you prefer, blow these bubbles under a black light, which helps them glow even brighter. On the other hand, bubbles that only glow under black light need a black light, which emits ultraviolet light. For these bubbles, leave the black light on.

How to Make Bubbles That Really Glow in the Dark

Make bubbles glow when the lights are out by combining bubble solution with phosphorescent (glow) powder or liquid. Using store-bought bubble solution is fine, otherwise mix your own using dishwashing liquid and light corn syrup or else water, dishwashing liquid, glycerin, and sugar. The advantage of buying the liquid is that it comes with a wand. The disadvantage is the homemade bubble solution makes stronger bubbles. But, you can always add a bit of corn syrup or sugar to a commercial product and thicken it.

Make Bubbles Glow Using Glow Pigment

Use glow-in-the-dark pigment, paint, or glue for glowing bubbles.

  • Bubble solution
  • Glow pigment, paint, glue, or other true glow in the dark products
  1. Charge the glowing product with bright light so you can see what you’re working with. Then, dim the lights a bit so you have a sense of the final effect.
  2. Mix together the bubble solution and enough glow product so you get a nice glow.
  3. Again, use a bright light and charge the glow. Then, turn out the lights and blow glowing bubbles.

There is no perfect ratio of ingredients because it depends on the products you use. Basically, you want a bright glow and a bubble solution that still blows bubbles!

Pros: It’s easy, truly glows in the dark, glows brightly, and you can use any color of glow product you like.
Cons: Most products thicken the bubble solution and make blowing bubbles harder. Clean-up can be messy, especially with glue or paint.
Tips: Use a black light for extra-bright bubbles. Make certain you use a non-toxic glow product (most are non-toxic).

Make Glow in the Dark Bubbles Using Glow Sticks

Glow sticks glow in the dark because of a chemiluminescence reaction. Mixing the liquid inside the tubes with bubble solution lets you blow bubbles that glow in the dark.

  • Bubble solution
  • Glow sticks
  1. Pour a bit of bubble solution into a small bowl.
  2. Activate glow sticks, cut the ends off them, and dump the liquid into the bowl with the bubble solution.
  3. Mix the bubble solution and glow stick fluid and then blow bubbles.

There is no perfect ratio of glow stick fluid to bubble solution. Basically, just cut open and add glow stick juice until you like the effect.

Pros: It’s a quick and easy solution, available in a wide range of colors, and does not require any light source.
Cons: The two liquids don’t mix very well, the resulting glow is dim, and the glow only lasts for a few minutes before weakening. Clean-up is messy. While technically non-toxic, glow stick liquid is not something you want near your mouth for blowing bubbles.
Tips: These bubbles glow much brighter under a black light.

How to Make Bubbles Glow With a Black Light

The glow-in-the-dark products are phosphorescent and don’t need a black light (although keeping one on makes them brighter). However, some of the brightest bubbles use fluorescent pigment and require a black light to glow. The other big advantage is that these recipes result in a bubble mixture that is easy to use for blowing bubbles.

Glowing Bubbles Using Fluorescent Highlighter Ink

Fluorescent highlighters glow very brightly under a black light and their ink combines with bubble solution to make brilliant glowing bubbles.

  • Fluorescent highlighters
  • Bubble solution
  • Black light
  1. Test the highlighters using the black light. Yellow and green almost always glow. Whether or not other colors work depends on the brand you’re using.
  2. Pour a bit of bubble solution into a bowl.
  3. Use tweezer or pliers and pull the ink pad out of the highlighter. If you have trouble pulling it out, carefully cut the pen in half and extract the ink pad.
  4. Place the ink pad in the bubble solution. Swish it around and mix the glowing liquid with the bubble solution. Ideally, turn on the black light so you can see what you’re getting.
  5. Make sure the black light is on and blow glowing bubbles!

Pros: These bubbles glow very brightly. There are multiple color options. The liquid is non-toxic.
Cons: Highlighter ink stains surfaces. Use a cleaner that contains bleach to remove color from surfaces. The other disadvantage is that you need a black light.
Tips: Blow these bubbles outdoors or in a bathroom so you don’t “highlight” your whole house.

How to Make Glowing Bubbles With Tonic Water

Tonic water contains quinine, which glows vivid blue under a black light. It’s edible and easy to clean up.

  • Tonic water (diet tonic water recommended, because it’s not sticky)
  • Bubble solution
  • Black light
  1. Turn on the black light. Mix tonic water into bubble solution so you have a good glow.
  2. That’s it! Go blow glowing bubbles!

Pros: This glowing bubble recipe is completely non-toxic, very bright, and easy to clean up.
Cons: It only glows blue and it requires a black light.
Tips. Use diet tonic water instead of the regular stuff so the bubble residue won’t be sticky. Tonic water dilutes the bubble solution, but you can counteract this by mixing up bubble solution from scratch:

  • 1 cup tonic water
  • 2 tablespoons liquid dishwashing detergent
  • 1 tablespoons glycerin
  • 1 teaspoons sugar