One of the saddest sights you’ll see is a wilting helium balloon. Once bouncing happily along, it starts to sink slowly towards the floor. So what’s behind that sinking? It’s something that you might have very little control over – the temperature.
To start your understanding, you need to go back to your school science lessons. A lot of people say “Helium balloons stay up because helium’s lighter than the air”, but that’s not scientifically correct. Imagine a train carriage, full of people. The people represent the gas molecules, and the train carriage is the inside of your balloon. In helium, the molecules are merrily walking around the train carriage.
However, in the air around us, outside the balloon, the molecules are more tightly crammed together – imagine the people all standing together at one end of the carriage. Because the molecules in helium are free to move around, helium is less dense than air, and that’s why helium balloons can float around in the air.
Hot Temperatures and Helium Balloons
Helium gas loves warmth, like we do. The heat encourages the molecules to get up and about, and they move around energetically inside the balloon, encouraging it to float up against the heavy, dense air.
Cold Temperatures and Helium Balloons
Cold temperatures have the same effect on helium molecules as they do on us. Cool temperatures slow down the helium molecules, and they start losing energy, and condense themselves, as an animal would by curling itself up in a ball. The condensed molecules gather together in the centre of the balloon. As the gas content reduces, more molecules gather together in the centre, meaning the balloon starts to deflate around the edges, looking shrivelled.
Can I Revive my Helium Balloon?
A bit like recharging a battery, you can try to recharge the helium by taking the balloon somewhere warmer. Hopefully, the heat will loosen up the helium molecules and encourage them to split apart from the clump they’ve formed, and start to bounce around inside the balloon again.
Now that you’re a science expert, we’re sure you’ll want to show off your learning and there’s no better way than with one of our helium balloon kits, complete with a generous supply of balloons and a helium canister which is sure to get your event off the ground.
Put your knowledge into action and avoid that sinking feeling with balloons which will stay up for as long as possible, thanks to Fill n Away. Get in touch with us via our Contact Us page, and let’s get your event up, up and away.