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Thread: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    Hmmm, most of the ones I saw were coming from the US. They also didnt saw anything about water type, where did you guys see that?
    Though I see that they are marketing them as fishtanks, so that would mean easy access to the insides.

    Short and badly typed since written from my phone...
    ~Jason
    [URL]http://www.tooz.us[/URL]

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    Party City on line does not have a white bowl like in the article. Still looking..
    Last edited by plasmadrive; 01-03-2017 at 03:23 PM.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    I like this idea. It's one of those unique things that you don't find at the big box stores.

    I keep my water softener salt tank in the garage. It saves me the effort of hauling the 50# blocks of salt into the basement. My garage is not heated and will easily get well below freezing for months at a time. I have the tank sitting on 3 bricks so that it's off the floor with a void in the middle. I've got a 15W light bulb in the middle that I turn on in December and off in march. It's enough to keep the saltwater above freezing. So, if you were able to incorporate a single incan bulb into the base, you should be able to use saltwater idea and manage the freezing just fine.
    An additive like alcohol or propolene glycol would also work without the need to heat it, but the color may be a problem. I'd avoid alcohol around the electrical stuff just because of the fire risk. Most antifreeze is strongly dyed. Even when cut with a lot of water, the color carries thru. I wouldn't want a errie chartreuse or redish orange liquid in a christmas bubble light. Though that could make some interesting Halloween stuff.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    Well traditional bubble lights (small that fit on trees) contain methylene chloride which is very expensive ($60/gal). Its also dangerous to handle and work with (inhalation and absorbed through skin contact). But its not gonna freeze outside. Well, not anywhere on this planet anyway (-142f).

    So, rough estimate, if you make a bubble light has a tube 24" tall and 3" internal dia you are looking at roughly $44 of methylene chloride per light.

    Thats assuming you go with the traditional design.

    Now, lets talk through the salt water idea.

    Yes, saline water does have a lower freezing point. However, its boiling point is beyond practical application here. So you must us an aquarium aerator stone in the bottom. Air goes in. Where does it go next? Out the top? If it goes out the top, there WILL be evaporation of the water also that will go with it. Water seeks the least concentration so the dry winter air offers prime transfer (which is why home humidifiers work so well). What happens to salt water when you evaporate the water? Salt crystals form around the upper edges and will coat the top exposed air gap at the top of the tube. Just look at any car in the midwest in winter. Its white and chalky. Thats the salt that stayed behind after the water evaporated. Thats what your tube will look like. You would need to constantly clean and replenish the water. Any vent holes must also be kept clear or you will pressurize the tube when they block causing the hose to pop off (probably) and drain all that salt water into the base where the pump is. Most of these commercial desk top sized bubblers use distilled water which is nearly mineral free. When it evaporates, it leaves no residue. Salt water is the total opposite of distilled water! Anyone with a salt water fish tank will tell you what the cleanup is all about. Salt water is also corrosive and conductive. Ask anyone who put their salt water fish tank next to their stereo or entertainment system.

    Next up, ethylene glycol based antifreeze. Its always colored both for identification as to type but also as a safety (same reason natural gas has an odorant added because we humans can't smell it without the mercaptan). Its also dangerous to animals as it has a sweet flavor and odor. Any spilled will lure animals to lick it and could kill them if enough is spilled. Again, aerator and evaporation issues but you can use distilled water to reduce the mineral buildup.

    Last, alcohol. Great solution. Not. It has a very fast evaporation rate, even when mixed with water. Yes its clear. And no, its not gonna cause a fire unless you start filling the tubes with Everclear ;) Again aeration for bubbles, and again increased evaporation.



    So, I offer another option. Not cheap, but cheaper than methylene chloride. Safer than ethylene glycol. Doesn't evaporate like alcohol. Doesn't leave a residue or crystals like salt. The mysterious component? Propylene Glycol. It will run you about $50/gal. Its naturally clear in color. Its food grade, safe to touch, handle, ingest and is already contained in thousands of food, medicine, and beauty products (just look at your toothpaste and shampoo, probably has it in the ingredients). Its also safe for animals, its probably in the canned food you feed your dog/cat. You could mix this with distilled water and have a clear unfreezing liquid thats safe for pets, kids and you. Same aerator issues and evaporation but seems to be the best solution. Roughly a 40% solution will be good for -5f, 50% and you should be good for -30f. Depending on where you are, you could adjust the concentration as needed for your possible lows.

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  6. #15
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    Awesome this is starting to sound like a fun science experiment. I did find the red metal pails and white 10 qt bowls at party city. Had to ask for assistance since everything was being moved around from Christmas and New Years. Number on bottom of bowl 0 13051 65554 9, says its a 10 qt wht swirl bowl, but it don't have swirls.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

  7. #16
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    I went to Party City to pick up a couple of the red buckets and I found the actual bowl he used. They only had two of them and they actually didn't even know they had them when I called to check. I was not able to find them on line even with the sku number. They are called "16"/320 oz. Bowl White" The number under the bar code is 81741 16311. I called another local store and she told me the actual SKU# is 597607. They are $5.99 each. The web site doesn't not recognize the number and there are only a couple locally here in Sacramento. Good luck finding them.

    Also, the foam from Hobby Lobby is called "Silly Winks" Foam Sheets. HL163994. I think they call it Craft Foam. There is another number on the tag 288001 4+ 12in x 8in

  8. #17
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie View Post
    Well traditional bubble lights (small that fit on trees) contain methylene chloride which is very expensive ($60/gal). Its also dangerous to handle and work with (inhalation and absorbed through skin contact). But its not gonna freeze outside. Well, not anywhere on this planet anyway (-142f).

    So, rough estimate, if you make a bubble light has a tube 24" tall and 3" internal dia you are looking at roughly $44 of methylene chloride per light.

    Thats assuming you go with the traditional design.

    Now, lets talk through the salt water idea.

    Yes, saline water does have a lower freezing point. However, its boiling point is beyond practical application here. So you must us an aquarium aerator stone in the bottom. Air goes in. Where does it go next? Out the top? If it goes out the top, there WILL be evaporation of the water also that will go with it. Water seeks the least concentration so the dry winter air offers prime transfer (which is why home humidifiers work so well). What happens to salt water when you evaporate the water? Salt crystals form around the upper edges and will coat the top exposed air gap at the top of the tube. Just look at any car in the midwest in winter. Its white and chalky. Thats the salt that stayed behind after the water evaporated. Thats what your tube will look like. You would need to constantly clean and replenish the water. Any vent holes must also be kept clear or you will pressurize the tube when they block causing the hose to pop off (probably) and drain all that salt water into the base where the pump is. Most of these commercial desk top sized bubblers use distilled water which is nearly mineral free. When it evaporates, it leaves no residue. Salt water is the total opposite of distilled water! Anyone with a salt water fish tank will tell you what the cleanup is all about. Salt water is also corrosive and conductive. Ask anyone who put their salt water fish tank next to their stereo or entertainment system.

    Next up, ethylene glycol based antifreeze. Its always colored both for identification as to type but also as a safety (same reason natural gas has an odorant added because we humans can't smell it without the mercaptan). Its also dangerous to animals as it has a sweet flavor and odor. Any spilled will lure animals to lick it and could kill them if enough is spilled. Again, aerator and evaporation issues but you can use distilled water to reduce the mineral buildup.

    Last, alcohol. Great solution. Not. It has a very fast evaporation rate, even when mixed with water. Yes its clear. And no, its not gonna cause a fire unless you start filling the tubes with Everclear ;) Again aeration for bubbles, and again increased evaporation.



    So, I offer another option. Not cheap, but cheaper than methylene chloride. Safer than ethylene glycol. Doesn't evaporate like alcohol. Doesn't leave a residue or crystals like salt. The mysterious component? Propylene Glycol. It will run you about $50/gal. Its naturally clear in color. Its food grade, safe to touch, handle, ingest and is already contained in thousands of food, medicine, and beauty products (just look at your toothpaste and shampoo, probably has it in the ingredients). Its also safe for animals, its probably in the canned food you feed your dog/cat. You could mix this with distilled water and have a clear unfreezing liquid thats safe for pets, kids and you. Same aerator issues and evaporation but seems to be the best solution. Roughly a 40% solution will be good for -5f, 50% and you should be good for -30f. Depending on where you are, you could adjust the concentration as needed for your possible lows.
    Wolfie, a well thought out explanation, thank you for that!!!

    While I was driving in this morning I was thinking about it, and I think we are overthinking the salt-water idea. It is agreed that it would lower the freezing temperature to something more reasonable, but that the boiling point will be too high. But we aren't boiling the water (the thing I thought of this morning)! Since these things are designed for fish tanks, they aren't planning on them being more than 80F, so they must have a pump making the bubbles. If that is the case, is there any downside to going the salt-water route?
    ~Jason
    [URL]http://www.tooz.us[/URL]

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  10. #18
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    One more thing to consider. That will be the air supply. A normal fish tank air bubblier will not work if the height of the water is over 24". I built something in the past for Halloween and it required a deep water air pump to produce bubbles. Just be sure to check you water height and buy pumps to match. The taller you go, the more expensive the pump.

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  12. #19
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    That is what I was talking about with the aerator. Bubble stuff is done two ways.
    1. Using a chemical that you boil using a heat source.
    2. Air injected using an aerator stone.

    1:Methylene chloride boils at about 103f. Your body temp is around 99f. So it boils just over your body temp. It is placed in a glass or other tube that is totally sealed. They use the heat from a light bulb to raise the bottom of the tube above 103f, and thus boils at the bottom. Since its a sealed tube, there is no evaporation, no spills, no lost material. This is the boiling point I was talking about, all others based on water or water solutions are beyond practical limits for boiling for bubbles. And this leads to...

    2. Air injection. Commonly facilitated with air stones (common in aquariums). There are two possible alternatives here:
    A: Open system: Air is drawn in with a pump and forced into the chamber. The bubbles rise and exit a vent in the top. Air exiting can carry with it any evaporaton of the chemical used (water, alcohol, etc).
    B: Closed system: Air supply for the pump comes from the top of the tube and is injected back into the bottom. There would be no chemical (water) loss as its a closed loop. It requires a path from the top back to the bottom so a "clean" looking install is much more difficult.

    So, boiling salt water isn't going to work in these systems. Is too hot. The chamber would have to stand substantial pressures. Again, not practical.

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  14. #20
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    Default Re: Thoughts on DIY Giant Bubble Light

    Wolfie went deep on some of the high points. Good job.

    I had a commercially available (Spencer's?) 3 ft tall bubbler years ago so they do exist. I have seen bubble walls as decor in some mall stores so those exist as well. The parts also exist to build your own but you will have to search.

    Distilled water is recommended by the manufacturers because it greatly delays the onset of algae. It also avoids the evaporation condensate issue Wolfie described.

    I also looked at building a very tall (6ft) air bubbler for a different project. I wanted a forced air bubbler in a tall cylinder. For that, you need a pump strong enough to push air into the bottom of the water column. It doesn't matter how wide the water column is, only how tall. You also want to include a backflow prevention valve (not diverter) at the bottom so you can replace the pump without a flood. If you don't use an air-stone, you get bigger bubbles.

    I have not done the comparisons but how would Calcium Chloride (the really good driveway ice melter) do as an antifreeze?

    To avoid the evaporation condensate issue, extend the tube above the level of the fluid, make the top of the tube opaque, and keep the level of the fluid in the opaque area. The condensate still exists but it is not visible.

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