How to make a bubble ring underwater. Scuba diver blowing a bubble ring.
Photo by Emma

Blowing a bubble ring underwater is definitely a cool way to show off. Many of my students are very interested in being able to make bubble rings underwater. You can blow bubble rings or you can create them with your hands when scuba diving, snorkeling or freediving. Let me teach you how to make a bubble ring underwater the right way.

You can skip to the section you like, by using our table of contents below.

What is a Bubble Ring?

What we see as the bubble ring underwater, is actually called a toroidal bubble. These bubbles form when air is trapped in an underwater vortex ring. The water around the air moves in a poloidal field propelling the bubble forward or upward.

There are several different ways to make bubble rings underwater. The most common is blowing a bubble ring as this can also be achieved when snorkeling or freediving.

How to Make a Bubble Ring Underwater?

The short answer? Buy an underwater bubble ring gun. No, I’m not making it up. They exist. These guns connect to a diver’s LPI connection and use intermediate pressure to create the vortex in the water.

Seriously though, let’s look at the different bubble ring recipes below.

How to Blow Bubble Rings?

These bubble rings form when a person exhales some air underwater. They travel upward only. This type of bubble ring is also referred to as the freediving bubble ring.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Position yourself parallel to the surface, tilting your head back slightly
  2. Fill your cheeks with air and stick your tongue out
  3. Pull your tongue in and release the air in your cheeks

Try not to force the air out too much. Too much air will create a normal bubble. You need to find a nice balance between the amount of air and pulling your tongue in. The goal is to create a small vortex. A successful bubble ring born this way starts off small with the bubbles not fully joined yet and grows in size on its way up.

You should observe the rotation in the smaller bubbles when you start practicing. This means you are on the right track. If you notice one side of the bubble always being bigger and “pulling” the ring apart, then you need to work on your position and release the air bubble as parallel to the surface as possible.

Pro Tip: If you do these scuba diving, make sure your next exhale and regulator purge don’t destroy your newest piece of art!

Safety Tip: If you are doing these scuba diving, be careful not to hold your breath by keeping a small exhale stream. You must have good buoyancy control and not rise while blowing bubble rings. Keep hold of your regulator.

Learn More: What Should Divers Do For Their Own Safety?

Two-Handed Bubble Rings

You can also use your hands to create bubble rings underwater. Using two hands is the easiest method when using making bubble rings this way.

A classic picture of Emma busting a bubble ring from my hood vent.
In our early diving days, Emma busting a bubble ring from my hood vent.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Smash your exhaled bubbles into tiny bubbles using your hand
  2. Try to create a cloud of tiny bubbles without too much turbulence
  3. Make two fists and press your knuckles together slightly behind the slowly rising bubble cloud
  4. Flick your wrists outward and slightly forward

The flicking motion creates the vortex. Try not to push your hands forward too much. Let the bubbles rest a little before you attempt to collect them into the vortex. Don’t rush it and create the bubble cloud well below your chest, after all, air rises. That’s how to make circle bubbles underwater.

Pro Tip: Experiment with the distance between your hands and the bubble cloud, the number of bubbles you create, and their size. Start practicing these with the current.

Safety Tip: When you smash your exhale, make sure you don’t smash your regulator out of your mouth. That’s if you are doing these when scuba diving.

One-Handed Bubble Ring

Time to graduate and proceed toward bubble ring mastery. This is the ninja bubble ring. The concept behind these rings is the same as with the two-handed bubble rings. You simple attempt to create the vortex with one hand only.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Smash your exhaled bubbles into tiny bubbles using your hand
  2. Try to create a cloud of tiny bubbles without too much turbulence, make sure they are tiny bubbles
  3. Completely straighten your hand and keep your fingers closed
  4. Pull your knuckles back slightly to create a small arch in your hand
  5. Let the bubbles rise into your hand
  6. Push your straight hand forward forcefully (the force coming from your shoulder)

Pro Tip: The forward motion only needs to be about 10cm. Don’t use your whole arm or elbow. A very slight rotation and tight spring back in your motion can help.

Don’t expect to make one of these on your first try.

Mastery of Tiny Bubble Rings

The coolest ones of them all. Tiny circles moving horizontally through the water. You can easily create quite a few of these in a row, which adds to the visual spectacle.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Smash your exhaled bubbles into tiny bubbles using your hand
  2. Keep pushing the rising bubbles down in front of you
  3. You want the smallest possible bubbles and only a few with virtually no turbulence
  4. Make two horizontal fists and bend your thumbs back as far as they go
  5. Push the tips of your thumbs together
  6. Wait for the bubbles to rise between your fists
  7. Flick your thumbs to your index fingers’ knuckles

Pro Tip: No need to create excess force. Try not to move your wrists and arms at all. The force comes solely from your thumbs. Focus on creating the perfect bubble cloud with these ones.

How do Dolphins Make Bubble Rings?

Dolphins release a small amount of air from their blowholes and use their incredible agility in the water to keep the poloidal vortex of the water moving in any direction they desire. Dolphins are the true masters of underwater bubble rings.

Conclusion

I hope this guide helped you on your journey in learning how to make a bubble ring underwater. Practice makes perfect with a skill like this. During my Divemaster program I remember spending hours in the pool with a mask practicing both blowing bubble rings as well as creating the vortex with my hands. In order to do the latter, you simply push some air down from the surface of the ppool to create the cloud of small bubbles and then practive your hand movements.

Good luck!

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