What is a Bubble Machine?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Few of us can resist the charms of soap bubbles floating through the air, and a gadget known as a bubble machine can generate thousands of bubbles on command. Much like a fog machine or foam generator, a commercial bubble machine can be rented to create a proper party atmosphere during a wedding reception or other festive occasion. Many bubble machines can be adjusted to generate various amounts of bubbles, from a few bubbles in a garden setting to a virtual explosion of soap bubbles during a dance party.

Two young boys
Two young boys

Surprisingly, a commercial bubble machine works on essentially the same principles as a child using a toy bubble wand and liquid soap. The machine uses a set of round bubble wands arranged in a disk formation. The bubble wands rotate on a motorized axis. Each wand is dipped into a soap bubble solution contained in a holding tank just below the revolving disk. As the individual wands loaded with soap solution emerge from the tank, they pass by an electric fan which blows a controlled amount of air through each wand.

The process continues as long as the holding tank remains loaded with liquid bubble solution and the fan continues to produce bubbles. Increasing the speed of the bubble wand disk should increase the number and frequency of generated bubbles. A second fan may be used to force the bubbles into a specific area, such as a dance floor, or away from other areas, such as an orchestra pit.

The use of a bubble machine has been closely associated with the former bandleader turned television host Lawrence Welk. His unique blend of big band music and middle-of-the-road arrangements of standards became known as "Champagne music," and the appearance of soap bubbles behind the band strongly suggested the bubbly nature of real champagne.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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