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Mission Accomplished: Colored Bubbles are Real!

For over ten years, researchers have battled to discover the way to make colored bubbles. Not the bubble gum kind... That's been solved, much to the pleasure of dentists around the world. No, these are the soapy bubbles from our youth, the bubbles that come in that tiny container with the little wand adorned with two circles (one thick, for large bubbles; the other thin, for multiple tiny bubbles). The bubbles that carry that delicious, soapy flavor when accidentally inhaled. And yes... I know that flavor from personal experience...

Now they come in colors. Not that I expect them to be flavored i.e. red is cherry, green is lime, etc. I expect they still retain that extra special soap flavor.

But they actually have true color now! These aren't the colors that a normal bubble would cause by refracting light. These are truly colored-purple, red, green, and more. It's pretty cool looking.

Sure is purdy, ain't it?Sure is purdy, ain't it?

Past experiments that infused color into the thin membrane of soap that forms a bubble have resulted in several mishaps-mostly due to what happens when the bubble pops. The chemicals used would stain practically everything, from clothing to faces. Chemical burns were not uncommon (ouch).

Then there was the weight factor. The chemicals used for coloration would sink to the bottom of the bubble, weighing it down. And what's a non-floating bubble worth? Not much.

Inventor Tim Kehoe carried many of these woes. He even managed to turn his eyeballs blue when an experimental bubble popped in his face. Scary.

The first colored bubble was invented in Kehoe's kitchen; it was blue. He actually called his wife into the room to see the bubble because, after experimenting with hundreds of formulas over the years, he thought he was hallucinating. But this variation still carried a major issue: it stained everything it touched.

So he went back to the drawing board. And though his obsession with the colored bubble never dissipated, he had to support himself with various other ventures, including web site design and working for a toy firm that kept such a ruthless, regimented schedule that he saw grown men cry.

But it took a weekend of pure pressure for him to discover the secret of the non-staining colored bubble. Kehoe and his business partner, Guy Haddleton, had started an independent toy company. Kehoe had purposefully kept his experiments with colored bubbles secret, knowing that his partner would jump on the idea and expect results. But without a stainless bubble, the idea was moot. But he pitched the idea anyway. Haddleton gave him the weekend to come up with a formula that wouldn't stain everything it touched.

Kehoe proceeded to buy every soap product he could find, as well as every dye available, then pretty much destroyed his wife's kitchen with popping colored stains. But his efforts paid off-thanks in part to the discovery of an expensive, special ink product that he had not tried in the past. The bubbles would pop, but not permanently stain. He had found his breakthrough.

He unveiled this product in July of 2004-and managed to freak out kids and parents alike. Though the bubbles would not leave a permanent stain, they would still discolor both skin and clothing. Parents don't like their kids walking around with multi-colored arms and faces.

So... Kehoe went back to the drawing board yet again in search of a water-soluble colored bubble that would disappear upon popping.

Enter Ram Sabnis, a dye chemist who thought that Kehoe's goal was obtainable. In February of 2005, he broke the code and devised a manner to create colored bubbles that easily washed away upon bursting and did not leave any residue behind.

My niece will love these things...My niece will love these things...

These bubbles are going on the market under the brand name "Zubbles ." The dye created for this product has the potential to change the entire concept of color in industry. Right now plans are in the works for face-paint, temporary hair dye, and crazy colored toothpaste.

Kehoe is hoping to roll these bubbles out on the market by February 2009.

 

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Via: Zubbles.com and PopSci

Comments
Nov 12, 2008
by Anonymous

They've been claiming since

They've been claiming since 2005 that Zubbles were going to be released in just a few months. I think it's a hoax.

Nov 12, 2008
by John P. Barker
John P. Barker's picture

Response to Anonymous

Yeah--they've had the bubbles around since 2005, but they still stained everything.  Its apparently taken them this long to find a dye mixture that would not only float, but which would just rub off and not stain stuff.

 At some point they devised a bouncing bubble as well... but couldn't recreate the formula as it was just kind'a thrown together and not written down.

Sort'a like my homebrewing recipes...  Oh, how I miss my Cherry Chocolate Stout...

Mar 3, 2009
by Anonymous

release Februari 2009

Februari 2009 has come and gone...