June 12, 2014

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Blowing up Balloons - Hints and Tips

It's no secret that I LOVE balloons, in my opinion a balloon makes an instant party! I have blown up many in my time 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 discovered along the way.

Helium Cannisters

You can choose between buying disposable canisters or hiring larger canisters. We sell a range of disposable helium canisters. Hired helium can come in numerous sizes and this is far better and cost effective for a big event. Disposable canisters come in two sizes, one to fill 30 9" Balloons and 1 to fill 50 9" balloons. For ease I will refer to them as cannister30 and canister50. Canister 30 has 8.9 cubic ft of helium and canister50 has 14.9 cubic ft of helium. Below is a table with suggests of helium capacity for different balloons and expected float times.

 

Balloon

Inflated Diameter

Capacity (Cubic Ft)

Float-Time

9" Latex

9"

0.3

8-10 hrs

11" Latex

11"

0.5

10-12 hrs

18" Foil

14" x 13"

0.5

3-5 days

20" Foil (Str)

18" x 18"

0.6

3-5 days

Giant Letter & Number

Various

1.5

3-5 days

Foil Supershapes

Various

1.5 - 2.5

3-5 days

3ft Latex (346")

36"

if filling to 2.5ft 8 cubic ft

if filling to 3ft 15 cubic ft

3-5 days

Foil Orb Balloon 16”

15" – 16”

1.05

3-5 days

 

Helium Filled Latex Balloons

If you want to fill balloons with helium one option is to take your balloons to a local party shop and they will fill them for you. It can be more cost effective however to buy a disposable canister. Disposable canisters fill either 30 or 50 9" balloons and come fitted with a latex regulator as standard. I find that a canister50 fills approx 30 x 11" balloons or 1 to 2 36" balloons (see notes on filling 36" balloons below). This is far from a science though and is dependent how much you fill them etc. If you are using large amounts of balloons you can hire larger helium cannisters I find that this is by far the most cost effective way of filling balloons in bigger quantities or if you are using a few 36" balloons. Please ensure you follow the manufacturers instructions very carefully when using helium and pay attention to the safety instructions.

Standard size latex filled helium balloons stay afloat for approx 8 - 12 hours, metallic helium filled balloons float for 2-5 days. I have found that a 36" latex helium filled balloon can stay afloat for a number of days due to the thickness of the balloon and the massive quantity of helium. 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!

 

Big 36" Balloons

Big 36" balloons have a larger neck opening so can be a little more tricky to fill, you can get adapters to use with helium canisters but I find it works to simply hold the neck of the balloon tightly around the nozzle as you fill it, then tie as you would a standard balloon.

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 with air then inflate until fully inflated using helium they have a far gentler pull but still float upright beautifully (the downside is that they will not stay afloat for as long perhaps just a few hours), 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 untethered!

Clear Balloons and Confetti Balloons 

If filling 11" or 16" clear balloons with air not helium please note that once fully inflated they may seem a little dull or misty, they will clear in around 10 minutes. Helium creates an immediately clear balloon however 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).

If filling a confetti filled balloon with air, 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 the conditions like humidity, heat, etc). For more ideas on decorating with clear balloons please see this Blog Post.

confetti Filled Balloons 

 

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.

16" 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!

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), for this reason it is likely that party shops will not inflate your balloons for you. 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.

Foil Balloons

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. Our other foil balloons can all be helium filled using a disposable or hired helium canister. 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 you could insert a plastic/paper straw and blow through the straw to inflate your balloon.

           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 ideally a long straw. 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 such as our letter balloons), 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.

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.

    

 


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