Helium Guide

Take Off with Helium Balloons!

Helium Balloons have long been more than just a trend! Wedding celebrations, Children's Birthday parties, Garden parties, Graduation Balls - just like their high altitude, Helium Balloons can also be used for a wide range of applications. Did you know that the word "helium" originates from the ancient Greek word "hélios" - in English meaning "Sun God"? Isn't that a perfect fit? And that's probably where the fascination lies. Basically, Balloons attract a lot of attention, not least because of the almost infinite selection of shapes and colours - each one more beautiful, conspicuous or unusual than the other.

But how exactly is it possible that a Balloon can float permanently in the air? What does one have to consider, and what is Helium anyway - that stuff that makes your voice sound like a Chipmunk? We’re here to answer those frequently asked questions!

What is Helium?

What hazard warnings and safety measures do I need to take into account?

What sort of Balloons can I fill with Helium?

How much Helium will I require to fill my Balloon?

How do I get the Helium into my Balloon?

What do I have to consider when using a Helium Balloon?

 

What is Helium?

What actually is Helium? To start with, a little Chemistry - now who remembers their Periodic Table? Helium is a chemical element, strictly speaking a Noble Gas, which can also be found under the element symbol "He" in the Periodic Table. After Hydrogen, it is the second lightest element in the Universe. It is lighter than air and can therefore - important for our beloved Balloons - be used as a lifting Gas. The Gas has no colour, no smell, no taste and is - very important for our health - non-toxic as well as non-flammable.

Nevertheless, it is extremely important to pay attention to specific measures when handling Helium: Please read the following hazard information and safety measures carefully!

Handling Helium: Hazard warnings and safety measures

A. Storage
Keep that Helium Canister away from children! It is not a toy and may only be used by adults. Keep it well out of the reach of children!
Store the bottle in a cool, dry place and protect it from direct sunlight.
Make sure that the bottle is always kept tightly closed.
Never manipulate the bottle and/or its opening valve.
Take leaking bottles outdoors immediately, dispose of their contents properly and ensure adequate ventilation.

B. Usage
Damaged bottles must not be used.
Use the bottle exclusively for filling balloons; any misuse is considered dangerous.
Do not use the bottle within enclosed spaces or rooms. Only open the valve while the bottle is standing upright on a solid, flat, stable surface.
Close the valve carefully after each use.
Never refill the bottle. Explosions may occur.
Fire can cause the bottle to burst.

C. Disposal
Do not dispose of the bottle i nthe residual waste, but rather in the plastic waste - or take it to a recycling centre.

D. Health
Never inhale Helium! The Gas can briefly change your voice if you inhale it ("Mickey Mouse Style"). This is due to the higher speed of sound compared to air; however, this also means that Helium displaces Oxygen and can therefore lead to suffocation in high concentrations

E. Transportation
Always make sure that the valve of the bottle is tightly and firmly closed and is equipped with  suitable valve protection.
Make sure that the container does not slip or tip over during transportation.
If possible, transport the container in a vehicle in which the loading space is separated from the driver's cab; this is to ensure adequate ventilation.

What sort of Balloon can I fill with Helium?

Balloons are named as such not because they fly in the air (they would only do so with Helium), but because they are primarily filled with air. Therefore: inflate balloons only with your mouth; unless they are clearly marked with an appropriate note, such as "suitable for Helium". So, when you buy a balloon, be sure when you want to fill it with Helium. Also, keep in mind that the term "Balloon" is often used as a generic term for different types of Balloons which we have differentiated below:

Foil Balloons

As the name suggests, Foil Balloons are made of foil. Although they can also be filled with air, they are basically produced for filling with Helium. The purpose of the foil film is to keep the Helium in for as long as possible: Because of its atomic structure, Helium can easily escape from the Balloon; however the metal layer of the Foil Balloons prevents this and lets it float for longer. However, direct sunlight should be avoided: The gas is heated, expands and bursts the balloon. The material of the Foil Balloon is not stretchable.

Latex Balloons

Similar to their Foil brothers, the name of these Balloons derives from their material. They are also called Rubber Balloons because of the rubber-like consistency of Latex - whether made of rubber or artificially. They can be filled with both air and Helium. For Helium, however, the Latex Balloons must firstly have a diameter of at least 25 cm, and secondly must also have a good quality Latex consistency. In discount stores you will often find cheap Latex Balloons, which are of inferior chemical composition. We advise you to please only inflate them with a pump - this is often noted as an indication. In contrast to Foil Balloons, Latex Balloons are stretchable; however, this also means that the structure of the Latex is comparatively porous and the gas is able to escape faster.

The types of balloons can now be further broken down - into Figure Balloons, Giant Balloons, Heart Balloons etc. - consisting either of Foil or Latex and all with varying Helium suitability. Therefore we would like to reiterate: When buying a Balloon make sure that it is 100% suitable for filling with Helium.

How much Helium will I require to fill my Balloon?

Now that you know more about Helium, i.e. necessary precautions and the different Balloons, the next question is: How much Helium must my Balloon contain? For this question we have prepared a table for you in advance. It offers only a rough orientation; when using Helium there can of course be deviations. In short, the amount of Helium depends on the material of the Balloon, its shape and the manufacturer. The following values refer to a round Balloon made of Latex.

Round Latex Balloons

Balloon Diameter

in Centimetres (cm)

Quantity of Balloon Gas

in Litres (l)

20

4

25

9

28

13

30

16

33

22

35

26

40

36

45

48

50

66

60

120

75

230

80

280

100

550

Your Helium Products from Party365.com:

Unfortunately as of now, we cannot ship any helium canisters or bottles into the UK, which is why you won't find any such products on our website. Please check again soon as we are working on getting them to you soon. 

 

How do I get the Helium into my Balloon?

The last step: fill the Balloon with Helium! We've created a short step-by-step guide for you to quickly and safely fill your Balloons with Helium. Always pay attention to the hazard warnings and safety measures you will find in the article above!

Video: Filling Latex Balloons with Helium

 

Video Filling Foil Balloons with Helium 

 

Video: Filling Airwalker Balloons with Helium

 

Another tip when filling with Helium is this filling valve, with which you can save approx.40 % Helium.

In addition, another important piece of advice: always look at all the instructions for use, such as those for Helium, Balloons or the fix closure! The products can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer and therefore also differ in their application - so please always play it safe.

Extra tip: When fastening ribbon to a Foil Balloon, be careful that it doesn't accidentally damage the valve. Most Balloons have a dotted line around which you can wrap a ribbon, so please use this as your reference. The valve is a kind of 'one-way valve' i.e. Air or Helium goes in, but not back out. So for example, if you release the valve and your Balloon loses its Helium, you can refill it at the valve. PS: You can also use Air! For this, simply take a pump with a needle (for example a Ball Pump), and gently push the needle into the valve to inflate your Balloon to the desired size. Then voilà, in next to no time your Balloon will be floating again - well, provided there is enough Helium in it!

 

What do I have to consider when using a Helium Balloon?

Often we see pictures of Balloons floating gently up to the sky in large numbers or climbing up to the craziest of locations. But whatever looks beautiful is not always legal, because: Balloons must not just be let off the leash! In the worst case they can even obstruct air traffic - we will explain to you what is allowed, what isn’t, and what you should consider when releasing Balloons. 

Releasing a Balloon can be expensive! Again and again we see pictures of beautiful weddings whereby guests write their favourite congratulations on a card and hang it on a Balloon. After a start signal everyone releases their Helium-filled Balloons into the sky at the same time. An emotional song (think Titanic theme but happier), chosen by the wedding couple runs in the background. Everyone looks up at the sky where the balloons are filling the sky. Hardly an eye remains dry, and it is so incredibly beautiful to look at.

And suddenly the Police turn up. Music - off. Emotions - sink. Wedding collection - gone - that’s gonna be expensive! Because what many people do not know: Releasing a Balloon into the sky requires (in many cases) permission from your Local Council.

Balloon release without permission

The release of Helium Balloons may be possible without permission, because Helium is a non-flammable gas. To the best of our knowledge (please remember we are not a delegating authority), you may consider the release of balloons a permitted activity provided the following regulations are met:
1. You must never release more than 500 balloons simultaneously!
2. No solid objects must be attached to the balloons you release!
3. The Balloons may not be bundled upon release!
4. It is common sense, however never release Balloons near airports! In technical terms, so-called "protected airspace" needs to be maintained. This control zone can be found at commercial and regional airports, as well as at airfields used for military purposes.

Balloon release requiring a permit

If you are unable to adhere to one or more of the 4 rules listed above due to your location, the number of your guests or other reasons, there is still a solution! You may be able to obtain a permit for the release of the Balloons. Please check with your Local Council / Citizens Advice Centre.

Caution with Sky Lanterns!

For the sake of completeness, we would like to give you the following information: if you plan to release Sky Lanterns (or Chinese Lanterns), please inform yourself of any corresponding regulations. Depending on where you live in the UK/US, the release of Sky Lanterns may be banned and/or be subject to strict codes and regulations. In general, it’s very dangerous not just for us humans but also for animals and the environment as Sky Lanterns - or Chinese Lanterns, Kong Ming Lanterns or Desire Lanterns (or whatever you want to call them) - can, in the worst case scenario, cause forest fires.

To release a Balloon is not always easy despite their featherlight weight. Particularly if you are planning a bigger event with Balloons, you should inform yourself in time about legal requirements in order to avoid penalties and to avoid endangering air traffic. All information here has been researched with care, but is in no way legally binding - it's simply a guide!

Time to take off! 

Know what Helium is - check!

Know what you have to pay attention to when dealing with Helium - check!

Know what to look out for when choosing your Balloons - check!

And do you know how much helium your Balloon needs for it to float - check!

It's high time to send your Balloons on a journey - and with your new know-how it certainly is going to be a case of ‘how high’!

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