The Ultimate Guide to Helium Balloons

Helium has a wide range of use across various industries, including manufacturing, science and medicine. However, what helium is best known for is inflating balloons — and for good reason. Helium is perfect for inflating balloons because its molecules are smaller and lighter than the air around us, allowing balloons to stay buoyant and airborne for long periods of time. Helium balloons also come in various shapes, sizes, and colours, providing a versatile option for several different occasions.

In this article, we’ll answer the most asked questions on helium balloons, including the different types of balloons available, how to inflate them, the different types of helium canisters, and the important safety precautions to follow.

Types of Helium Balloon

Helium balloons come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Each type of helium balloon has unique properties which make it suitable for specific occasions.

1. Latex Balloons

Latex balloons are the most common type of helium balloons. They are made from natural latex rubber and have a longer inflation time compared to regular balloons. 

You may also come across pearl or metallic latex balloons, which have a pearlescent or chrome-like finish. 

Regular latex balloons are not to be mistaken with helium latex balloons; regular latex balloons are typically filled with air, whereas helium latex balloons are filled with helium (as the name suggests). As a result, regular, air-filled latex balloons are not buoyant and will not float, whereas helium balloons rise and float, and can float for a period of time.

2. Foil Balloons

Foil balloons, also known as Mylar balloons, are made of aluminium-covered nylon, and have a shiny, reflective surface. Foil balloons are less elastic than helium balloons, meaning they are not made to expand and contract, and can be more vulnerable to deflating or bursting due to fluctuations in temperature.

Foil balloons are most often used for different shapes, such as numbers and letters, which make them a popular choice for special occasions and themed events where specific shapes or characters are desired. 

3. Giant Balloons 

It is possible to get giant latex and foil balloons which are oversized versions of regular latex and foil balloons. These can reach up to 55 inches in height, and are often used for parades, grand openings, product launches, large events or special occasions. 

4. Bubble Balloons 

Bubble balloons are made from a clear, stretchy plastic, and once inflated, are a round beach ball shape. Bubble balloons tend to be filled with confetti, feathers, foliage or other balloons for special occasions, such as weddings, baby showers or parties. 

Choosing the right helium balloon for you depends on the occasion and any specific requirements you may have, such as the event’s theme or the ideal floating time.

How to Inflate Helium Balloons

Inflating helium balloons requires a few essential tools and some careful considerations to ensure that your balloons float. You will need:

  • Helium Tank or Canister: You can rent or purchase a helium tank or canister from a party supply store, or via an event planner. The size of the tank or canister will depend on the number of balloons you plan to inflate.
  • Helium Regulator: This device attaches to the helium tank or canister and allows you to control the flow of helium into the balloons.
  • String, Ribbons & Weights: You’ll need string, ribbon or weights to attach to the balloons and anchor them in place.
  1. Before inflating the balloons, make sure they are clean and free of any dust or dirt.
  2. Attach the helium regulator to the helium tank or canister following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Hold the balloon by the neck and place it over the nozzle of the helium tank or canister, and gently release helium into the balloon until it reaches the desired size. Be careful not to over inflate the balloon, as this can cause it to burst.
  4. Tie the balloon securely at the neck, using a knot or ribbon. Foil balloons are often self-sealing, so there is no need for tying in this instance.
  5. Attach your string, ribbons or weights if required. 
  6. When you have finished inflating balloons, close the valve on the tank and store as per the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Safety Precautions for Helium Balloons

When storing and handling helium, it’s important to follow strict safety guidelines. 

Storage

Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Helium canisters should also be placed upright and anchored in place, to avoid being dropped or knocked over. 

Transportation

Helium should be in an approved container or cylinder, and should be firmly secured during transport. Always transport helium cylinders in an upright position, ensure that the vehicle or storage area where helium cylinders are transported is well-ventilated, and that the cylinder valve is  closed and securely sealed during transport.

You should also protect the helium container from exposure to extreme heat, direct sunlight, and flames, as this can lead to cylinder rupture. 

Keep in mind that local and national regulations related to transporting compressed gases can differ, and you may require a permit or licence to purchase and transport helium. 

Ventilation

When inflating helium balloons indoors, ensure that the area is well-ventilated. Helium displaces oxygen, and in a poorly ventilated room, this can cause health issues. 

You should also avoid inhaling helium as, when it displaces oxygen, it can cause nausea, dizziness, unconsciousness or even death. The majority of serious health issues and deaths related to helium inhalation involve inhaling helium from a pressurised tank, rather than a balloon – though both should be avoided. 

Disposal 

Dispose of empty helium tanks or disposable canisters according to local and manufacturer regulations. 

Types of Helium Tanks

Your choice of helium tank depends on the quantity of balloons you need to inflate. Helium tanks tend to come in a range of sizes, for both small and larger-scale events and applications, in both disposable and refillable variations.

At Worldwide Gas, we offer helium tanks and cylinders in the following ranges:

  • Mini: 1L Alu & Steel Cylinders –  Inflates 15 balloons.
  • Essential: 7L Steel & 2.2L Alu & Steel Cylinders –  Inflates 30 balloons.
  • Jumbo: 13L Steel & 3.3L Alu & Steel Cylinders –  Inflates 45 – 50 balloons.
  • Mega: 22L Steel  –  Inflates 100 balloons.
While economy products are convenient for blowing up a small number of balloons for a small gathering or event, larger tanks are typically used for inflating a larger number of balloons, such as for weddings, large parties, or corporate functions.

Where to Find Helium Balloons

Looking for helium balloons? Here are some options to consider. 

Party Supply Shops

Local party supply stores often carry a wide range of helium balloons, including latex and foil varieties. Some party shops will also sell helium tanks, so you can inflate your balloons at home. 

Event Companies

If you’re planning a large event, you might consider contacting event companies. They often provide helium tank rental services and can assist with balloon arrangements, arches, and other decorations.

Retailers

Other online retailers will sell balloons, accessories, and helium canisters that can be delivered to your business or home. 

For businesses or event planners who need balloons in bulk, helium manufacturers and wholesale suppliers may offer cost-effective solutions, providing large quantities of balloons and helium canisters at competitive prices.

Worldwide Gas are the largest manufacturer of wholesale helium and nitrous oxide gas cylinders, tanks and accessories in the world. Our distributors have access to our design team, with pre- and post-delivery marketing support. Choose your branding, logos, colours and packaging, and work with our experts to bring your custom helium or nitrous oxide products to life. 

Want to work with us, or have another question? Contact our friendly team via email, WhatsApp, or video chat.

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