How to Blow Up Balloons - Hints & Tips for Inflating Balloons UK

Blowing Up Balloons - Tips on How To Best Fill Your Party Balloons


It's no secret that I LOVE balloons, I've always thought that a balloon creates an instant party! I have inflated literally thousands of balloons and thought I would share some hints and tips about how to best fill your party balloons. Please note these are not manufacturers guidelines just tips that I have learned from my own experiences.

Helium Canisters

Helium isn't the only option when inflating balloons and I will discuss other options during this. The choice when it comes to helium canisters is to either purchase smaller disposable canisters or to hire large helium cylinders.  We sell a range of disposable helium canisters. Hired helium can come in a range of sizes and is more cost effective for a big event where large numbers of balloons are required. The disposable canisters come in two sizes and are more suitable to at home use or for smaller parties. There are two sizes of disposable canister available; the smaller will fill 30 9" Balloons and the larger size will fill 50 9" balloons. For ease I will refer to them as cannister30 and canister50. Canister30 has 8.9 cubic ft of helium and canister50 has 14.9 cubic ft of helium. Below is a table with details of the helium capacity for different balloons and their expected float times.



Inflated Diameter

Capacity (Cubic Ft)


9" Latex



8-10 hrs

11" Latex



10-12 hrs

18" Foil

14" x 13"


3-5 days

20" Foil (Str)

18" x 18"


3-5 days

Giant Letter & Number



3-5 days

Foil Supershapes


1.5 - 2.5

3-5 days

3ft Latex (346")


if filling to 2.5ft 8 cubic ft

if filling to 3ft 15 cubic ft

3-5 days

Foil Orb Balloon 16”

15" – 16”


3-5 days


Standard size latex balloons stay afloat for approx 8 - 12 hours when filled with helium, whereas helium filled foil balloons float for 2-5 days. The reason foil balloons float longer than latex balloons is because helium will slowly seep out of the pores in natural latex. If you want your latex balloons to float longer there is a useful product that you can buy Helium Hi-Float Treatment Kit which helps the balloons float up to 25 times longer!


Giant 36" Balloons

Large round 36" balloons have a wide neck opening so can be a little more tricky to fill, there are adapters for helium canisters available but I find it works to simply hold the neck of the balloon tightly around the nozzle of a helium inflator or air electric air pump as you fill it, then tie as you would a standard balloon. these are almost impossible to fill by mouth!

36" latex filled balloons filled with helium can stay afloat for a number of days due to the thickness of the balloon and the massive quantity of helium. When 36" balloons are fully inflated with helium they can lift a weight of 340g. I find that fully inflated they have a serious amount of pull and can be quite difficult to control outside even in light winds. Children find them particularly difficult to handle and they need to be well tethered or could be lost very quickly. When I am using them with children, as a hand-held photo prop or to be held by a Bride I have discovered that if I half blow them up halfway with air then top up with helium until fully inflated they have a gentler pull but still float upright beautifully. The added advantage of filling them this way is that they cost half the amount to fill and they wont disappear into space if they become un-tethered! (the downside is that they will not stay afloat for as long).

Clear Balloons and Confetti Balloons 

If filling latex clear balloons please note that once fully inflated they may seem a little dull or misty, they will clear in around 10 minutes The float time for Confetti filled helium balloons is less than standard balloons simply because of the extra weight of the paper inside them (approx 4 - 6 hours).

Once the balloon is inflated you can create some static by rubbing the balloon on clothing or hair to help the confetti to stick to the inside. How well the confetti sticks depends on other conditions like humidity, heat, etc. For more ideas on decorating with clear balloons please see this Blog Post.

confetti Filled Balloons 

 Orbz Balloons - Inflation Guide

Foil Balloons

Foil helium filled balloons have a very long float time and use a comparatively small quantity of helium which makes them a really popular choice.

Foil Balloons tend do be deigned to be filled with helium but our range of 16" letters, numbers and balloons on sticks are all air fill only and this is easily done following the instructions on their packaging.

Generally all foil balloons can also be air filled if you wish to attach to a wall or use as a prop on a table etc. To do this you will need to insert either a balloon pump with a long this end or insert a plastic/paper straw and blow through the straw to inflate your balloon.

           Tying Foil Balloons - I tie my foil balloons by using the 'rolling method'. This keeps the balloons looking really neat and hides their valves. Here is a useful tutorial.

           Re-using Foil Balloons - Foil Balloons can be reused if they have a valve that self seals (all the balloons we sell have this sort of valve). To empty your balloon of air you will need a long straw or long blunt knitting needing. Insert your straw into the opening of the neck of the balloon (it may need to go in a long way inside the valve of the balloon as some valves are very long), you will be able to tell when you have inserted the straw far enough as the air will start to be released. Fold your balloon carefully once it is emptied of air and store in a dry place.

Orb Balloons

Orb balloons are easy to inflate with helium and require only about 2x as much helium as a regular balloon (see chart above). For an inflation tutorial please click here. Orbs are advised to be 'helium fill only' but I always manage to air fill these balloons successfully, this is great if you want to use them on the floor at an event or tie them into balloon garlands. See this blog post for instructions.

Letter & Number Balloons

The 16" Letter and Number balloons are fantastic because there is no need for helium, simply inflate them with puff and they will stay inflated for months, what is more you can release the air from them and pack them away ready to re-use in the future - brilliant!

Giant Letter and Number balloons make great party statement balloons, they only require a fairly small quantity of helium and can also be filled with just air, most have tabs that enable them to be hung with string. (insert a straw to fill with air)

Tiny 5" Balloons

These balloons have a very small air capacity, this means that if you fill them with helium they will not float for long (1-2 hours). If you do use helium for these tiny balloons please do ensure you use a very light-weight string or cotton to tether them as even the weight of the string can make them sink (I use cotton thread).

These tiny balloons look particularly cute when made into a cake topper. Simply snip of the sharp end of a wooden pick, blow up your balloon, tie and insert the pick very carefully into the tied knot it should just stay in place. An alternative idea is to string the balloons into a cute alternative bunting.

Other ways of displaying balloons

There are plenty of ways of displaying your balloons beautifully without using Helium. I have previously blogged about ideas for displaying balloons without helium.

Please note inflating balloons is not an exact science, my suggestions here are purely from my own experiences and others may not get the same results as me. How well your balloon stays filled or in the air very much depends on a number of factors; how it has been tied, how much it has been filled, what the weather on the day is like (are they in direct sunlight?), and how the balloons have been stored (they do not like extreme temperatures or damp). 

If you have any other hints and tips around filling balloons we would really love to hear about them, drop us a line and tell us about it.



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