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How to Inflate Helium Balloons – Proper Technique & Pro Tips

holding balloons on a sunny day

How to Inflate & Seal Latex Balloons with a Helium Tank and Balloon Pump

Step 1: Find the opening in the tail, or bottom of the balloon.

Step 2: Push the opening of the balloon onto the nozzle of the pump until it looks airtight.

Step 3: Hold the balloon in place while you press the nozzle to pump the helium into the balloon.

Step 4: When the desired inflation level is achieved, remove the tail from the nozzle while pinching it shut so that no helium escapes.

Step 5: While pinching the balloon shut, stretch the tail around two fingers and tie in a knot to close.

Step 6: Tie a ribbon just above the knot and use a balloon weight to keep it from flying away.

Pro Tip: When inflating latex balloons with air or helium note the recommended teardrop shape shown in the drawing. Even though Qualatex® balloons and AdRite™ balloons stretch well beyond their properly inflated sizes, be careful not to over-inflate, causing them to have a pear-like shape.

AdRite™ Balloons

If the balloons are underinflated, they have a round shape. For maximum flying times when using helium, inflate latex balloons to the proper size. Typical sizes of latex balloons should last for 12-24 hours when properly inflated, depending on size. Larger balloons will float longer than smaller ones. Refer to the chart before for details:

latex balloon inflation guide
Latex Balloon Size Avg. Flying Time with Helium Avg. # Balloons / Helium Tank (242 cu. ft.)
9" Round 12-16 Hours* 900
11" Round 18-24 Hours* 484
17" Round Outdoor 35-50 Hours* 150
36" Round Giant 3-5 Days* 16

* Conservation averages. Actual flying time will vary depending on temperature and atmospheric conditions. Accessories for sealing latex balloons will increase weight and shorten average flying time.

You can also extend the float time of helium balloons with additives like Hi-Float.

How to Inflate & Seal Foil/Mylar Balloons with a Helium Tank and Balloon Pump

Step 1: Find the opening in the tail, or neck of the balloon.

Step 2: Push the opening of the balloon onto the nozzle of the pump until it looks airtight.

Step 3: Hold the balloon in place while you press the nozzle to pump the helium into the balloon until the desired inflation level is achieved.

Step 4: Foil balloons are inflated through self-sealing valves, located in the balloon necks. When balloons are fully inflated, remove the helium inflation nozzle and the balloons will seal automatically.

Step 5: Tie a ribbon just below the valve and use a balloon weight to keep it from flying away.

Pro Tip: Properly inflated Microfoil balloons are tight (even drum-like) with uniformly-spaced creases along the seams. Tie ribbons to the lower portion of the balloon necks, below the valves. When the balloons begin to soften, you can add helium to refresh them without removing the ribbons.

Microfoil® Heart Balloon

Typical sizes of Microfoil balloons should last for 3-5 days when properly inflated, depending on size. Larger balloons will float longer than smaller ones. Refer to the chart below for details:

microfoil balloon inflation guide
Microfoil Balloon Size Avg. Flying Time with Helium Avg. # Balloons / Helium Tank (242 cu. ft.)
18" Round or Heart 3-5 Days* 475
20" Star 3-5 Days* 400
36" Star 10 Days* 95

* Actual flying time will vary depending on inks used and ink coverage. Helium-filled Microfoil balloons may not float in altitudes exceeding approximately 3,000 feet.

Helium Tanks and Balloon Pumps

You can buy helium tanks and balloon pumps relatively inexpensively from party supply or big box stores for small-scale use.

Where to Get Helium Balloons Filled

If your organization doesn’t have its own helium tank and balloon pump, or you just don’t have the time to do it yourself, you’re not out of luck. Party supply stores like Party City will inflate balloons even when not purchased at their stores, for a fee. Some Walmart locations will also do this. Dollar Tree sells helium balloons but does not offer inflation services. Target also does not offer balloon inflation services, but like Walmart, does sell the supplies you need to do it yourself.

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