Friday, August 19, 2016

Balloon Basics - Inflating and Tying Latex Balloons

For many of you that regularly read the Very Best Balloon Blog, you probably already know all the basic techniques that we use. However, there are many that are new to the wonderful world of balloons, others that are self-taught, and those who might like a quick refresher! 
I would like to start by saying that there are no right or wrong techniques, just those that might be a little easier or have benefits when working with multiple balloons. I know that I tie balloons a little differently from some of my ballooning friends, but like many, I was self-taught and don't feel the need to change my technique as it works really well for me.

Latex Inflation
When inflating Qualatex® round latex balloons, it is important to fill them until the balloon forms a teardrop shape. An over-inflated round balloon develops a pear shape, whilst under-inflated balloons are more round in shape.


This rule does not apply to the giant latex 30" to 36" balloons, which are produced on different forms* and should be round rather than teardrop-shaped.

Latex balloons may be filled with air, helium*, or balloon gas.* Balloons that are 9" or smaller are generally filled with air rather than balloon gas or helium as they have a very limited floating time, which is generally not suitable for decor.

Balloons filled with air do not float and stay inflated considerably longer (weeks rather than hours) than those inflated with balloon gas or helium.

Balloons inflated with balloon gas or helium are affected by extremes in temperature and altitude. Helium expands in the heat and contracts in the cold. On hot days, when moving balloons from a cool environment to a warm or hot one, ensure that you slightly underinflate your balloons to allow for expansion. It is better to pre-inflate your balloons to their full size first using air, and then re-inflate to a smaller size with helium. For example, an 11" balloon can be pre-inflated to 11", deflated, and then re-inflated to 10.75" or 10.5". By not pre-inflating your balloons you may find that they will still pop even when underinflated.
On a cool day, slightly overinflate the balloons when moving from a warm environment to a cooler one.  In normal conditions, balloons inflated with balloon gas or helium should be inflated to their correct size to ensure maximum float time.
Personally, I would do some floating tests or trials when working in different temperatures to ensure that the balloons offer maximum float time in different conditions.

I recently wrote a blog, Balloons and the Great Outdoors, that may help you when working with balloons in different weather conditions.

Sizing Balloons
Sizing balloons is important for two reasons:


Very Best Balloon Sizer
Available at European Qualatex Distributors.
  • Ensuring that all your balloons are inflated to the same size when creating decor will offer a professional finish.
  • Balloons filled with balloon gas or helium will have the maximum floating time when inflated to the correct size.
You can use a sizing template to size a balloon. There are various options available to purchase, or you could make your own. 




This helium chart shows each latex balloon size, the lift ability of each size of balloon when inflated with helium or balloon gas, how much gas each size of balloon takes when inflated to its correct size, and its average floating time. To download this chart, click HERE



Tying Latex Balloons
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are many different techniques. Especially when it comes to tying a balloon. However, there are a few things that we should never do:
  • Never pull on the neck of the balloon after tying it; this can cause friction and create microscopic holes in the latex causing the balloon to tear and deflate.
  • Never tie a ribbon onto an inflated balloon above the knot as this can also damage the latex.
In the video clip below you will see Luc Bertrand, CBA, of WaW Balloons in Vichte, Belgium, demonstrate how to tie latex balloons, and at the same time incorporate the balloon ribbon, making this a one-step process. Luc also shows how to successfully apply Hi-Float®* to a latex balloon and how to prepare large groups of balloons for transporting.



  
About Latex Balloons
Qualatex latex balloons are made from 100% pure natural latex. They biodegrade at about the same rate as an oak leaf. Qualatex balloons are available in more than 70 fantastic colours and finishes and range in size from 5" to 36" in the round shape. Qualatex also produces latex hearts, GEO® Donuts, GEO® Blossoms, Quick Links and 160Q, 260Q, 321Q, 350Q, and 646Q modelling balloons.


To download this chart click HERE



Glossary of Terms

*A balloon form (or mould) is the metal shape that is dipped into liquid latex to produce the desired shape and size of a balloon.

*Balloon gas is a product that is often sold by helium suppliers. It is a mix of helium and air and is a recycled product collected from industries that use pure helium. The mix is approximately 98% helium and 2% air. Because air molecules are much larger than helium molecules, this can help to reduce the osmosis process by colliding with the helium molecules thus slowing them down. Balloons filled with pure helium will not float as long as a balloon filled with balloon gas, but to be honest, I am not entirely sure what the floating time difference is.

*Helium is an inert gas. An inert gas is a gas that has extremely low reactivity with other substances, therefore, it is impossible to cause fire or burn. It is the second lightest element next to hydrogen - unlike helium, hydrogen should NEVER be used for filling balloons as it is highly flammable and very dangerous.
Helium is colourless, odourless, and tasteless. 
WARNING; It is not safe to inhale helium from a balloon. Helium is an asphyxiant. Inhalation of helium can kill.

*Hi-Float is an aqueous solution containing a special water-soluble plastic. It dries inside the balloon to form a barrier coating which helps hold in the helium. This coating greatly increases the floating life of the balloon.

For full instructions on how to use Hi-Float for best results, watch this short video clip.






I hope that this brief introduction to inflating and tying latex balloons has been of help to some of you. This is the start of a series of Balloon Basics blogs that will be featured over the next few months.

In the UK and around Europe, Qualatex Europe runs a 1-day course for beginners. This full-day seminar embraces all aspects of the balloon business, including health and safety requirements, balloon inflation, bouquet construction and simple garland creation. It includes a comprehensive, full-colour manual that will be a valuable reference guide on float times, pricing, basic design principles, and more. To find out where and when the classes are being held, check out the Education Calendar HERE for full details.

The Qualatex Balloon Network℠ - QBN® program, is also a great way to learn the foundations of running a successful balloon business. This 3-part DVD program covers:
To find out more about the QBN program and the benefits of becoming a QBN member, click HERE


Happy Ballooning!

Sue

www.suebowler.com

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