How Early Can You Blow Up Balloons?

How Early Can You Blow Up Balloons?

Blowing Up a Balloon
Blowing Up a Balloon

Michael Faraday, who was a scientist, created the first balloons in 1824. While at the Royal Institution in London, he used rubber balloons in the experiments he made about hydrogen.

He discovered that by filling the rubber balloons with hydrogen, they floated and ascended to a certain height. Yet he was still dissatisfied because the hydrogen kept escaping the rubber balloons.

A Timeline of the Rise of Balloons

  • In 1825, an English rubber manufacturer and inventor named Thomas Hancock began to sell kits for creating balloons.
  • By 1847, entrepreneurs in England started to sell balloons made of vulcanized rubber. They used vulcanized rubber because of its elasticity and durability.
  • Around the 1870’s, people started using balloons for different purposes. In fact, a lot of people believed that military men, as well as meteorologists, can use ballons, aside from being a source of entertainment for kids.
  • In 1907, the United States also started manufacturing rubber balloons. They became more famous at the start of the 20th century.
  • During the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, people in America started twisting balloons to form different shapes of animals.
  • It was in the 1970’s where the introduction of foil balloons took place. Their popularity also increased because the foil is apparently better than rubber. They were also used to form letters and numbers.

The Process of Creating Balloons: Then and Now

Liquid Rubber
Liquid Rubber

The way Michael Faraday created balloons was by placing two pieces of rubber over each other and then pressing their edges together. And because the rubber was sticky, they stuck instantly.

However, he had to keep that the two pieces of rubber from sticking together all the way through. So what he did was before sticking them together, he rubbed the inside of the rubbers with flour. 

On the other hand, balloons nowadays are created from a liquid rubber, which is Latex. It is extracted from the sap of the rubber tree, specifically Hevea Brasiliensis, which is a tree that only grows in tropical countries.

In addition, the process of creating balloons now is already mechanized, unlike how Michael Faraday made balloons manually before.

This is now the modern process of creating balloons:

  1. Treat the liquid Latex.
  2. Add the colors.
  3. Form the latex into various shapes.
  4. Stamp the themed balloons with different patterns or designs.

Why do We Use Balloons at Parties?

Balloons at a Party
Balloons at a Party

Balloons are a party staple. Whether it’s a birthday party, a wedding, or other special occasions, its festive mood won’t be complete without balloons.

That is especially true for kids’ parties. Children have fun playing with balloons because of their different shapes, colors, and designs.

Even if the primary purpose of balloons was as a tool in a scientific experiment, they are now also being used for fun, especially for kids.

That is why balloons are common at birthday parties and other special events now. Around the world, people use balloons at a lot of celebratory occasions because of the festive mood that they give. Different colors, sizes, shapes, and designs of balloons make any kids’ birthday party more fun.

Actually, balloons are a must for children’s parties. That is because kids love balloons. They are drawn by how balloons look like. Another thing is that festive occasions, especially birthday parties would be boring for kids if there are no balloons in them.

As you plan for the next party that you will throw, you can’t miss balloons when you think of and start buying decorations and other party supplies. As mentioned earlier, balloons are a party staple. They instantly make any simple party venue more colorful and photo-ready.

The Two Main Types of Balloons

Foil Balloons
Foil Balloons

Yes, there are several sizes and shapes of balloons. They also come in different designs and colors. But balloons only have two main types.

The first type is the elastic one. This type is cheaper than the other. You can inflate elastic balloons by mouth. They also come in different colors and shapes, such as elongated, oval, and round.  

The other type is the foil balloons. You can be all out on your creativity with foil balloons because they can be written or painted on. It’s easy to do that because they are covered with shiny material.

You can draw on them and write your wishes and greetings on them, too. However, this type of balloons is more expensive than the usual plastic ones.

If you would like to make your party more personalized, you can use foil balloons and put special personal messages, such as HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WE LOVE YOU, and the like. Yes, you can have these balloons customized. There are many stores that offer these balloons, or you can buy them online.

How Early Can You Blow Up Balloons

There are people and even professional party decorators or event stylists who blow up air-filled balloons up to 3 weeks prior to the party. But then again, what’s ideal is to inflate balloons a maximum of five days before the event.

After blowing up the balloons, you should store them in a large, clear plastic bag (mattress bag or trash bag) which you can tightly close to protect the inflated balloons.

Once the balloons have been blown up, the next thing you should do is to prevent them from oxidizing.

When you are not able to keep them in a plastic bag, the balloons will begin to lose their shine and start to oxidize. That is why it is not recommended to blow up balloons more than five days before the party.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that if you will use helium to blow up balloons, then you cannot blow them up ahead of time. That is because balloons lose helium much faster than they lose air.

How Long Do Balloons Stay Inflated?

Half-Inflated Balloon
Half-Inflated Balloon

Balloons have always been one of the classic choices for party decorations. However, it’s not visually appealing to see half-deflated balloons.

But then again, with proper planning as well as careful timing, your blown up balloons can still look fresh even after a few days.

As mentioned earlier, balloons come in two main types – the elastic balloons, which are made of Latex; and foil balloons, which are made with Mylar.

Their main difference is that Latex balloons are leakier. That is why air escapes faster from them. This means that they don’t stay blown up compared to foil balloons. So yes, foil balloons stay inflated longer.

You can fill balloons with either helium or air.

The reason why balloons filled with helium float is because helium has smaller molecules than air. Balloons rapidly release these smaller molecules. The result? Balloons that use helium deflate faster, unlike air-filled balloons.

On the other hand, when you use air to fill balloons, the air stays on them longer. For that reason, air-filled balloons remain inflated for weeks or months.

If you inflate and store balloons properly, regardless of their type and whether they have air or helium, you can expect balloons to last for several weeks or even a few months.

How do Balloons Stay Inflated?

There are a lot of factors that affect how long balloons would stay inflated. These factors are whether they are inflated using air or helium as well as their type.

Air Vs. Helium

Not all balloons are the same, so some definitely will deflate faster than the others. For example, an 11-inch Latex balloon with helium can stay in the air for 18 up to 24 hours. On the other hand, an 18-inch foil balloon that is also blown up using helium can stay for up to three weeks.


Another factor that affects the inflation time of balloons is their size. For example, a 9-inch balloon can stay inflated for around eight hours. On the contrary, a 16-inch Latex balloon that is filled with helium can stay blown up for a maximum of 30 hours.

Quality of the Material

Just like any other party supplies, the quality of latex balloons is also an important factor that can make it inflated for longer. The better their quality is, the less air escapes them and the longer they stay blown up.

Another factor that may affect the inflation of balloons is the temperature on the day of the party. When the weather is cold, molecules shrink. As a result, the balloons become smaller. On the other hand, during hot days, the movement of molecules speeds up. Because of this, the air escapes balloons more rapidly.

In case the weather is going to be hot and humid, choose to use bigger balloons with an extended floating time.

So if you want your balloons to stay inflated and last longer, you should only buy balloons which have top quality.

Another thing you can do to prolong the life of your balloons is never to under-fill them. That is because when balloons have less air, chances are they will go limp more rapidly.

As a result, to prevent your balloons from going droopy, you must tie a tight loop in the inflated balloons. Doing this will stop any extra air from escaping the balloons.

If you are planning to throw a party, you must always have a careful estimate of the balloons’ inflation time.

What you could actually do is to wait for as long as possible prior to the start of the party before blowing up the balloons. Doing that will help you make sure not to have half-inflated balloons at the end of the event, or worse, during the party.

Balloon TypeFloating Time
Latex balloons8 to 12 hours
3 feet Latex balloons3 to 5 days
Letter and number3 to 5 days
Foil balloons3 to 5 days
Foil supershape balloons3 to 5 days
Foil orb balloons3 to 5 days

Tips to Prolong the Life of Balloons

  • When you have already blown up all the balloons, put them all inside of a protective polypropylene balloon bag, which is for the purpose of preventing possible oxidation. This is for the reason that the minute you blow up a balloon, you instantly make it prone to oxidation. So after putting them inside a protective polypropylene bag, make sure to tie it using a piece of curling ribbon.
  • You must store the balloons where direct sunlight cannot reach them.
  • Keep in mind that balloons, especially the elastic (Latex) ones must always be kept away from heat. On the other hand, when you store them in cooler temperatures, you will be able to prolong their life and keep them inflated for more days even after the party. When you expose balloons to heat, they will only last for not over eight hours. The worst thing that can happen is they may even pop.
  • If you want to use balloons that will last longer than the other ones, opt for bigger Latex balloons, such as 24” or 36” balloons. Larger balloons last longer than the ordinary size 11” Latex balloon.
  • Keep in mind that the bigger your balloons, the longer they stay floating.
  • Opt for air-filled Latex balloons for your next party. Latex balloons filled with air last a lot longer than those balloons which are filled with helium.
  • In addition to that, it would also be better if you would use foil balloons instead of elastic ones. This is because foil balloons can stay afloat for several weeks. Not only that – foil balloons still look great even after weeks. When you use foil balloons and fill them with air, they can even last for a few months.

Related Questions

Before using rubber as balloons, what did people use back then?

Before rubber balloons were invented, people used animal intestines.

What is the effect of vinegar and baking soda on balloons?

The mixture of baking soda and vinegar put in a bottle can make an acid-base reaction. This reaction then creates carbon dioxide gas which bubbles up from the blend. As a result, the gas will expand out of the bottle and will inflate the balloons.

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