Frozen bubbles in Calgary produce magical video, photographs

Calgary photographer Chris Ratzlaff has become a master at freezing bubbles in subzero temperatures.

Majestic frozen bubbles captured on video

This story was originally published on Nov. 11.

Most of us run for cover when the mercury drops below -25 C, but Chris Ratzlaff runs outside.

Winter is always a wonderland for the Calgarian, who blows bubbles in subzero temperatures and photographs them as they transform into icy globes.

Last winter, he managed to capture the metamorphosis beautifully on video.

"Probably a couple hundred bubbles were sacrificed in the making of the video," said Ratzlaff.

"There's not much you can do when it's really cold outside so you tend to hide inside, but this is a good excuse to get out there."

Bundle up and be patient

Ratzlaff says anyone can make frozen bubbles, you just need a bubble blower, a bucket of soapy water (see recipe below), a good winter jacket and patience.

He advises that you blow your bubbles onto a surface and not into the air — that way they stick and, hopefully, freeze before they burst — and don't do it on a windy day.

"The bubbles are really, really fragile and they'll pop at anything."

Even a warm breath.

Which is why this winter, he's going to experiment inflating the bubbles with ambient air as opposed to his own lung power.

"A bike pump, something that I can use to really control the movement of air."

Frozen bubbles formula

Some of Ratzlaff's bubbles last seconds, others — overnight. He started experimenting with his bubble formula last winter and says the key is to get the mixture thick enough. 

  • 35 ml dish soap.
  • 35 ml corn syrup (to thicken the bubble wall).
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar (to help the bubble crystallize).
  • 200 ml warm water.

Chill in the mixture in the freezer until it starts crystallizing on the surface.

Chris Ratzlaff's bubble formula includes mixing together 200 ml warm water, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 35 ml dish soap and 35 ml corn syrup. Then you chill them in a freezer until you start seeing crystallizing on the surface. (Chris Ratzlaff Photography)


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