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How to make air-filled balloons float

by Donna Smith
(Midland, VA)

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Hi - I have a baby shower coming up and intended on filling the balloons with air but since they really don't float I was going to change to helium. What would you suggest, how can I get air-filled balloons to float?

Thanks so much!

P.S. The event is inside.

How to Get Air-Filled Balloons to Float

The short answer to your question is: you can't get air-filled balloons to float, unless you'd put them into a room filled with a gas that's denser than air (for example CO2) or you fill them with hot air.

As the principle of hot air balloons go, hot air rises because it's lighter than cool air.

You can fill a latex balloon with hot air using a hairdryer. Don't inflate the balloon to its maximum capacity because hot air expands and may cause the balloon to burst.

Also be careful not to let the balloon touch the hot part of the hairdryer as it would damage and probably pop the balloon.

Once the hot air in the balloon cools, the balloon will come down. This is a very temporary method, and not really useful for creating balloon decor.

What kind of decoration did you have in mind for the baby shower?

If you were planning to do a balloon ceiling, there are several pretty easy ways to hang balloons from the ceiling without using helium and still make the balloons look like they are floating.

One method I've also seen mentioned is using static to make the balloon stick to the ceiling or wall.

Create static electricity by rubbing the balloon against a fabric, like a wool sweater, a piece of fleece, or even your hair for about 60 seconds. You are transferring electrons from the fabric to the balloon, which creates a negative static charge on the surface of the balloon.

However, the balloon won't stick for a long time, perhaps a few hours at best, as the static charge will slowly dissipate.

So, to sum it up...

Air-filled balloons will not float because the air inside the balloon is not lighter than the air outside.

To make a balloon float, you would need a lighter-than-air gas like helium or hydrogen (or hot air). Balloons float when filled with these gases because they are lighter than the air outside of the balloon, which creates buoyancy and causes the balloon to float.

Hydrogen however is highly flammable and not recommended for safety reasons. That's why helium is the commonly used gas to make balloons float.

If you want to stick to air-filled latex balloons for the baby shower decoration, consider creating a balloon garland or arch. It's easy to do with my balloon decorating strip tutorial.

Hope that helps!


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Ideas for making air-filled balloons look like they're floating
by: Elizabeth

You could stick balloons to the ceiling with good quality glue dots and attach ribbon to them.

Also, you could use a 24 inch deco bubble and decorate it with a shimmer tail, attached to a pole. It gives the sensation that it is floating. You could make smaller versions for the tables too.

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