Blowing Frozen Bubbles: A Deep Freeze in Wisconsin

I say it every year: I love winter. I really do. I am a four seasons person and winter is an important part of annual closure and finding time to slow down and get introspective. Hot drinks and a good book. Football and a good Russian Imperial Stout perhaps. Plus, I love how beautiful the snow is. The tough part, of course, is how long it can last some years, making it seem like summer is just a short holiday coinciding with road construction as the standing joke goes. And then there’s the challenge of a serious cold snap. Fortunately, they are generally only for a few days. But this week’s frigid temperatures are perhaps the lowest recorded in Wisconsin in my lifetime. We are dipping down below -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-29C), with wind chill past -40F (-40C) at least. Break out the long johns.

But while we’re terrified of losing fingers and patches of skin to frostbite, why not have a little fun? Today we headed outside for as long as the fingers could stand it (and as long as our supplies remained liquid — not long!) to blow some bubbles and see what would happen.

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I’ve had a bottle of bubbles sitting on top of my bookshelf for about 7 years and finally had cause to go find it and open it. On a side note, the bottle says Made in USA and the label says Made in Mexico from US Ingredients. What the–? So it’s our special tap water and dish soap but we need to have that mixed and put in US bottles in Mexico? Well, no matter, the stuff didn’t work. Is there an expiration date on bubbles?? So I made my own in the kitchen.

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We timed it and it looked like the bubble solution took just shy of 8 seconds to freeze.

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Once we got a few airborne we chased after them with a video camera. They’d float off, turn white a bit.

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And then as my hot air cooled off, they shrank a bit and started coming back to earth where they tore apart in a crash. Bubble ice shrapnel.

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Finally, here’s a short video of our efforts…

5 thoughts on “Blowing Frozen Bubbles: A Deep Freeze in Wisconsin

  • January 7, 2014 at 1:55 am
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    As I mentioned in my comment on your Google+ post, my wife was demonstrating the same thing to me this morning. (I guess she figured that even an old dog can learn new tricks.)

    Some of the bubbles that she blew half-froze, looking as if they’d been blown from warm plastic. They began collapsing on themselves (usually with the bottom of the sphere collapsing first) as they floated through the air. Other bubbles froze completely, only to shatter when they hit an obstacle.

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    • January 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm
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      It seems a number of people were finding ways to play with the brutal cold.

      I figured if I didn’t use my own breath, I’d get better results. Perhaps the shoe string/metal washer method, but then those might be way too big. But getting the contracting hot air out of the mix should help. Just the sort of project I should be setting my mind and energy to.

      Reply
  • January 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm
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    Thanks for the good laugh this morning. You guys are a bit crazy and I love it! It’s interesting to see that the bubbles move slower in the cold air!

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  • January 21, 2014 at 12:02 am
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    When will the frozen bubbles Wisconsin guide be coming out? Although I love the snow and winter too, I am not too unhappy I was in Florida for this weather. It did get cold down there too. It was 32 degrees on night in northern Florida.

    Reply

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