Once in awhile I dream up an activity that wows me as much as it does the kids. This is one of them. Bubble painting with dry ice is so fun and so simple. It produces bright, brilliant prints that are immediately frame-worthy, plus it’s one of the most riotously fun process art activities I have ever experienced. Bubble painting is the perfect balance between an exciting dry ice experiment and a creative art project, which makes it one of our favorite STEAM activities of all time!
If you enjoy this dry ice experiment and are wondering what else to do with dry ice, be sure to check out our ebook, 8 SUPER COOL DRY ICE EXPERIMENTS. It is jam-packed with bubbly, hands-on, exciting dry ice projects that are suitable for learning and fun in the classroom or at home. Click the picture below to find out more!
Be sure to scroll to the end of this post where you will find a link to the popular 28 Days of STEAM series going on this month! The most brilliant bloggers on the web have come together to share their best science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities all in one place. Don’t miss it!
Bubble painting is insanely fun and can get quite messy! I made sure the kids were wearing clothes I didn’t mind staining and that the area around us was clear of anything that could be damaged by water or food coloring.
This would be a fantastic summer dry ice project to do outside on a nice day, too!
*Safety Alert* Dry ice is relatively safe, but it can be dangerous if handled incorrectly. Please see our dry ice safety FAQs for more information about safety, storage, and handling.
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To get started making our bubble paintings we gathered the following supplies:
- Bowl full of warm water
- Baking sheet
- Dry ice
- Liquid dish soap
- Food coloring (The neon colors are our favorites!)
- White paper
- Paper towels
The process of setting up this dry ice experiment was just as fun as actually making our bubble prints!
I placed the bowl of water on top of a baking sheet to catch the mess that I knew was coming. We used gloves to place a plum-sized chunk of dry ice into the bowl full of water. Immediately, dry ice vapor spilled out and over the edges of the bowl. The interaction between dry ice and water is always fascinating to watch!
Next, we squeezed a generous amount of liquid dish soap into the water. Like magic, cloud-filled bubbles began to grow out from the bowl. I let the kids have fun playing with the bubble volcano for a few minutes before explaining how to do bubble painting.
Bubble Painting Fun with Dry Ice
I squeezed one drop of food coloring onto the bubbles that were pouring out of the bowl. Before those bubbles could go anywhere, I pressed a piece of white paper onto the colored bubbles, pulled it away, and voila! Bubble prints.
The kids had an amazing time creating their own bubble paintings. They experimented with color and texture, with timing and with mixing. Sometimes the bubbles stuck to the paper. They were easy enough to blow away, leaving a unique pattern behind.
My son experimented with rubbing the bubbles into his paper. This created a very different washed out effect that he loved.
When the kids were done painting a sheet of paper, we placed it on a paper towel to dry.
We explored color mixing by using primary colored food coloring and layering it on top of other colors. I was blown away by how bright the colors appeared on the page and how beautiful the final products turned out! My kids were thoroughly engaged in experimenting and creating for at least an hour and definitely could have continued producing print after print if we hadn’t had to run off to swimming lessons.
At first we tried dripping liquid watercolors onto the bubbles. This worked, but the colors were faint and washed out. Food coloring worked much better! The colors were more vibrant and the bubble patterns were so clear.
After a little while the dry ice mixture needed to be recharged. I simply dumped out the water, refilled the bowl with fresh warm water from the sink, added a new chunk of dry ice, and added new soap. We used up almost all of the dry ice we had!
Bubble Painting Science
If you have been following along recently you already know how obsessed we are with using dry ice experiments as a learning tool. Dry ice is just one of those materials that never gets old!
Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide that sublimes directly into carbon dioxide gas. The vapor that spews out of a bowl full of water and dry ice is a mixture of carbon dioxide gas and water vapor. Essentially, it’s a cloud. When liquid dish soap is added to the mix, bubbles full of dry ice vapor are created. If you pop the bubbles you’ll see tiny clouds burst into the air!
Food coloring sits right on top of the bubbles and gets transferred onto the paper in a bubble pattern. There are many ways to do bubble painting, but this is our favorite since new bubbles are constantly generated, creating endless possibilities!
Check out a few different ways to do bubble painting and let us know which method you like the best! Here are a few of our favorites: