Mike's solution and a lot of other great ones to try are listed at http://soapbubble.wikia.com/wiki/Recipes , so please don’t ask Mike about it until after you've read through this great page
Or try the invention and the mix that got him started
Or go to Keith Michael Johnson’s incredible
or for an emphasis on the BIG bubbles, try
There was a great discussion on the blog about environmental impact concerns here. Many folks, especially dog owners, are understandably concerned when they see what I do. I've come to realize that it it is something of a compliment--the novelty of the size and number of bubbles causes folks to assume that I'm doing something special, that it's not just soap and water. In a nutshell, it is 98.6% soap and water, with a tiny bit of polyethylene oxide, sucrose and baking powder. From that list, the polyethylene oxide (or polyethylene glycol) would sound most suspect to me, but it is quite benign: Polyethylene oxide/glycol is "non-toxic, odorless, neutral, lubricating, nonvolatile and nonirritating and is used in a variety of pharmaceuticals and in medications..." The type I use is actually a veterinary lubricant so it is expressly harmless to animals. Specifically, here's what the solution is, as of Winter 2010:
1. 112 oz. tap water--About 92% by volume.
2. 8 oz. Dawn Dish Detergent--About 6.6% by volume. With Bio-degradable surfactants, this is the stuff often famously used to clean wildlife suffering after oil spills. It contains Water, sodium alkyl sulfate, SD alcohol, sodium alkyl ethoxylate sulfate, alkyl dimethyl amine oxide and ethanol. Scent is key proprietary information in these kinds of products so, much to environmentally-sensitive folks' justifiable dismay, manufacturers are not required to disclose scent ingredients. Proctor and Gamble's toxicity info asserts that the Dawn is non-toxic and safe for dispersive use e.g. 14:1 dilution, let alone the further conversion of that 14:1 diluted solution into bubble films--that's about as dispersive as you can get.
3. 1 oz. Glycerin--0.83%. Derived from fats and oils, commonly used in foods, soaps, medicines and cosmetics. Non-toxic. (No longer used as of 10/2010)
4. 1/4 oz Baking Powder--0.21%. Cornstarch, Bicarbonate of Soda, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate
5. 1/4 oz lubricant powder--0.21%. 3/4 Sucrose and 1/4 Polyethylene Oxide
Though we concluded after the discussion that the impact is far less worrisome than the suds around my buckets sometimes seems to suggest, it seemed prudent and proper to address the matter thus:
(From this blog.)
a. I will check with the USFWS to make sure I am never planning to bubble in protected habitat.
b. Though it appears environmental impact is almost completely negligible, I have set up a monthly donation to plant-trees.org in the spirit of offsetting (and surpassing on the green side) any negative effects of what I do.
c. Again though their may be no impact at all, the most likely location for any ill-effects is right around the buckets where the most drips fall, so, when in wilderness areas, I will set up absorbent material and/or painting tarps there and, whenever possible, rinse the area with water just before I go.
d. I will add environmental impact Q&A to the info card I hand out to folks with questions.
e. As I continue to learn more, I will update this list and alter my activities accordingly!