HISTORY – Going down the balloon lane

If you are as crazy about balloons as us, their origin and history will intrigue you as much. It is very fascinating to know when was the first balloon made and how. The word was originally derived from the French word balloon, meaning large ball. This was in turn probably derived from the Latin balloon, or possibly from the old German word balla, meaning ball.

The early balloons were known to be made of animal bladders and intestines (this almost made us GO yuk!!! ). They were often used by jesters who would model them into amusing shapes for entertainment. Galileo also inflated a pig’s bladder in an experiment to measure the weight of air. Modern balloons are made from materials such as rubber, latex or plastic and sometimes metallic coating is done for added shine.

  • 1824- The first rubber balloons were invented by Michael Faraday in 1824 and used in his experiments with hydrogen. He made his balloons simply by cutting out two sheets of rubber, placing them on top of each other and pressing the edges together. The sticky rubber welded automatically and he rubbed the inside of the balloon with flour to prevent the opposing surfaces joining together.1825- Toy balloons were first introduced by pioneer rubber manufacturer Thomas Hancock. For the first time in the history of balloons, the wonder product became accessible to people in the year 1825. Interestingly, they had to make the actual balloon by themselves. The balloons came in the form of a kit which included a bottle of rubber solution and a condensing syringe. The kit was marketed by England’s pioneer rubber manufacturer, Thomas Hancock.
  • 1847- Vulcanized toy balloons were first manufactured by J.G. Ingram of London in 1847.
  • 1889- It was starting this year, that balloons could be bought by people in the United States. The famed Montgomery Ward had them in their catalogue that year. The price was 4 cents each or 40 cents a dozen. In fact, the balloons were not made in the United States, but were probably imported from Belgium.
  • 1907- The Anderson Rubber Company in Ohio, United States was the first producer of balloons on a commercial basis.
  • 1912- In this year, came a totally new thing for the balloon world. It was the manufacture of the first balloon that wasn’t round but a cigar-shaped thing. This new development was duly credited to Harry Ross Gill, founder of the National Latex Rubber Products of Ashland, Ohio.
  • 1931- The balloon technology took a big leap ahead and according to an industry catalogue, “Neil Tillotson dipped the first modern latex balloon made from the sap of a rubber tree.” The catalogue further states that the balloon, shaped like a cat’s head with pointed ears and a whisker-printed face, was the world’s first novelty-shaped and printed balloon. Before that, the manufacture of balloons involved a cumbersome, lengthy process. Tillotson founded the Tillotson Rubber Company which makes balloons even today.
Balloons are of two kinds- Latex and Mylar (also known as Foil Balloons). Most people are familiar with latex (rubber) balloons which are almost synonymous to balloons as we know them.


Natural rubber balloons are made with the white sap or latex collected from the rubber trees that grow in tropical rain forests in various parts of the world. The latex is collected from the trees by using an ancient method called “tapping” that does not harm the tree. A single rubber tree can produce rubber for about 40 years! Latex is also classified as…would you believe…a vegetable?

Latex balloons are 100% biodegradable and will decompose as fast as an oak leaf in your back yard given identical conditions. The degradation process begins almost immediately after inflated balloons are exposed to the air. This can be seen by the oxidation –the “frosting” that begins to coat Latex balloons after they have been inflated for a while. Exposure to elevated temperatures and sunlight quickens this process. (knowledge credit: Gemar Balloons, Italy)

The quality of the latex will surely determine the durability and appearance of inflated balloons. We would recommend that you purchase your balloons from a reputable party shop. Balloons purchased from a supermarket are generally OK for air fill, but they are either too small or they lack in quality for helium filling (keep on GOing reading to know more about Helium Gas) As helium is the most expensive component of your balloon decorating, don’t waste your money buying cheap or low quality balloons to use with helium gas – you are likely to be highly disappointed. You should store balloons out of light and away from heat to maintain their quality. Leave them sealed in the packet until needed.


Foil balloons are made of a thin , continuous film of metal over nylon. These balloons are less porous and remain inflated several times longer than untreated latex balloons. Foil balloons are not bio-degradable. Furthermore, since any foil balloon’s surface can conduct electricity, one should not release a helium filled foil balloon. Always secure a foil balloon to a weight to avoid accidental release. (knowledge credit: Qualatex, USA)

Mylar balloons or foil balloons can be filled with helium gas or air. The minimum sized foil suitable for helium is 45 cm (18″) and these will fly for 1-2 weeks. They can also be refilled, as most brands have a self-sealing valve. Smaller foils are air filled and heat sealed, usually sold on a stick by florists and party shops and can last for years. The larger foils can be air filled and attached to the wall with Velcro or tape, or hung from the ceiling with ribbon.

However, if you want them to fly, you will need to fill them with helium gas, preferably early on the day of your function, or the day before. Unlike latex balloons, a fault in the foil balloon may not be apparent for some time after filling, so inflate well in advance of the party. If you are purchasing foil balloons already inflated from a party shop, request that they be done a couple of hours before collection or delivery to ensure they are OK. routinely fills foil balloons the day before a party to ensure they are in perfect condition.

Foil balloons come in a huge range of colours and styles, and include helium shapes and air walkers. The most popular brands are Betallic, Qualatex and Anagram, all manufactured in America. They are available in age prints and shapes from 1 to 100, Happy Birthday, Anniversary, Engagement, Wedding, Retirement, Welcome Home, Baby, Get Well, and every other conceivable event.

A foil balloon can be tied to a gift, the back of the birthday person’s chair, or at the center of a balloon bouquet. They are best suited for bouquets for gifting. Children and adults both love to receive balloons on their birthday or in hospital – they are a long lasting gift or decoration, and both take up less space and are much cheaper than flowers!


Helium is a non-flammable, non-toxic, non-radioactive, non-poisonous naturally occurring and environmentally friendly light gas that often used to fill balloons to make them float/fly. Helium-filled balloons float because helium is lighter than nitrogen and oxygen, the two components of air. Helium is very rare and hence it is expensive. Though Helium is safe to use, do not directly inhale Helium from a balloon. Hydrogen has a higher lift ability than Helium since it is the lightest, but it is highly inflammable and dangerous. WE DO NOT USE HYDROGEN.


Inflating Balloons cause pores on its walls/ surface due to which the air inside tends to escape through the pores. When balloons are made of 100% latex rubber, there are lesser pores on its surface when inflated and thus they retain air/ helium for a comparatively longer time. Such 100% rubber latex balloons are called ‘ Helium Quality’ Balloons


Hi‐Float is a liquid protective coating that is inserted into the balloon and spread around to prevent helium from escaping as quickly from the porous latex balloons. It helps prolong helium retention. It is water‐soluble and non‐toxic.

Why don’t my balloons float? Balloons don’t float for a number of reasons. A balloon must be inflated with helium for it to float. If it still does not float, make sure that you are blowing the balloon up to its full size. An under inflated balloon is the most common reason for a balloon not to float. Do not fill a balloon smaller that 9″ with helium as they only float for a few hours.Some very cheap plastic balloons will not float when filled with Helium / balloon gas. This is due to a poor design and manufacture where the weight of the balloon exceeds the lift of the helium gas.
We have personally come across these same balloons floating when filled with HYDROGEN gas. BUT WE DO NOT USE HYDROGEN. Hydrogen has a higher lift ability than Helium BUT is highly inflammable and dangerous.

Why do balloons deflate more quickly in a hot room than a cold one? A. In theory a balloon will deflate more quickly in a cold room as the helium contracts in the cold making it easier for the particles to escape from the balloon. In a hot room the helium particles expand making them less likely to escape from the balloon. Depending on how hot the room is, if the particles expand a lot then this can cause the balloon to pop.

One reason for a balloon to deflate more quickly in a hot room would be that the heat causes the helium particles to move about rapidly and therefore escape at a faster rate. This is not a scientific fact – more what various people have found through years of working with the balloons.

Why do helium balloons deflate more quickly than exhaled air? A. Helium balloons deflate quicker than air filled balloons because the helium particles are smaller than air particles and so escape through the balloons more easily

Making balloons last longer Balloons filled with air will last for days to weeks, and can be filled the day before your function. Balloons filled with helium gas usually last less than a day, and need to be inflated on the day of your function. If you are DIY, always do a test inflation the day before to determine the flying time of the balloons under your conditions.

Flying times will depend on the size and quality of the balloons, and the conditions on the day you inflate them. A standard size helium balloon is 28 cm (11″) and should fly for 12-18 hours, but this is highly dependent upon local conditions. Balloons are adversely affected by heat, wind and sun, so keep them in a cool, dark place until needed. India has hot weather, so we are always conservative with balloon flying times, and any extra is a bonus. Don’t leave helium filled balloons in your car while you shop for the party pay the extra for delivery or DIY at the venue just before the function.

Professional balloon decorators use premium quality balloons because they consistently perform better whether filled with air or helium. They have a more uniform shape and size, are less likely to break, and the neck is longer to allow easier tying off.

All shapes and sizes

Latex balloons come in an enormous range of colours, sizes and prints. Printed balloons are available for all age birthdays, and every other event imaginable. Balloons are printed in two directions: neck down for helium gas fill or air fill on sticks, and neck up for air fill only with the balloon hanging down. When you purchase balloons, make sure the print direction will suit the purpose, or they may be upside down!

Balloons printed neck down for helium fill can also be air filled and placed on cups and sticks. These balloons will not fly, but can be used to make table centre pieces or topiaries. Push the stick into a vase of sand or a cup of plaster of Paris. Dress it up with wrapping paper and ribbon, and you have an attractive and cheap alternative to helium filled balloons. Our Balloon experts at Go can make professional topiaries and table centre pieces for you at a reasonable cost, ensuring your function day is hassle free.

More maintenance tips

A bunch of 40 cm balloons is triple the size of the same quantity of 28 cm balloons, with three times the impact, without being three times the price. Obviously, the bigger the balloon, the longer it will fly with helium. Air filled balloons make fantastic topiary balls, either hung from the ceiling or placed over a stick or pole.

A knot is the most effective way of sealing a balloon, however, if you have lots of balloons to do, there are alternatives. A balloon seal or clip can be used to tie off balloons, and has the advantage that the ribbon can be pre-tied to the seal beforehand, making the job quicker on the day. The disadvantages are the extra cost of the seals, and if the balloons are not sealed completely, gas or air will escape and the balloons will deflate. The neck of the balloon must be twisted through the seal 3 or 4 times. We suggest you do a test the day before to make sure you’ve got it right.

  • Whether air or gas filling, try to size your balloons so they are all the same. With practice this can be done by eye. Two other options are:
  1. make a size from cardboard in the shape of a horseshoe. Cut the correct size hole out e.g. 28 cm, then cut a notch in one side to allow you to pull the balloon through.
  2. place two high-backed chairs back to back and measure so they are 28 cm apart. Now inflate so that the balloon just touches both chairs.

That professional touch…

Your decorations will look more professional if all balloons are the same size, and sizing is crucial for flying time with helium filled balloons.

Overfilling balloons stretches the latex and allows gas to escape more quickly; it also makes the balloons pear shaped and harder to tie off. Under-filling affects the spread of colour over the balloon, and will severely affect the flying time.

Improving balloon presentation

Balloons usually have curling ribbon attached, and the length will depend on what the balloons will be used for. Most helium filled balloons are left to fly on the ceiling with the ribbons hanging down, therefore 1.5 m of ribbon per balloon is recommended. Tie a loop in the ribbon approximately 15 cm from one end, tighten the loop behind the knot of the balloon and curl the 15 cm tail. The longer tails can also be curled once the balloons are in place, or trimmed if they are too long.

If the ceilings are extremely high (3 m plus) or angled, consider making bouquets instead. Gather three or more balloons together and tie to a weight adjust the height for either floor or table bouquets. This way your balloons will be seen, and bouquets can be moved to suit the event e.g. floor bouquets at the entrance can be moved to the bridal table, buffet table or dance-floor once everyone is inside.

Ensure that the balloons in a table bouquet are flying above head height when people are seated you should be looking through ribbons, not balloons. Floor bouquets are usually at standing head height, around 1.8 m (6). Make bouquets a uniform height nothing looks worse than a room of balloon bouquets at different heights.

Pay a bit extra and put a printed balloon or foil balloon that suits your occasion at the crown of each bouquet, then layer the other balloons underneath. When the balloons are arranged, tie all the ribbons together close to the neck of the lowest balloon. Select the longest ribbon and tie it to the weight. Curl the remaining ribbon tails so they hang down to the weight, and trim the excess. You now have a professional looking bouquet that will make your function special.

Go can make balloon bouquets for you that will make your function special if you don’t have the time or expertise to DIY. To find out more about how we can make your event a raging success, just give us a call at 80-10-80-4444 and speak to our balloon expert.

We have a question for you. Do you think balloons are all about fun? Well, if your answer were yes, you would change your mind when you read this.
  • Specially made balloons are used in medical surgeries, to clear out clogged arteries or stop the internal organs from losing a lot of blood.
  • Huge balloons are used in scientific researches. Some are capable of carrying telescopes or even satellites!
  • Before World War II, Balloons were used as observation posts.

(Knowledge credit:

Children under 8 years of age can choke on deflated or broken balloons. Adult supervision is required. Keep deflated balloons away from children. Discard broken balloons at once.

  • Never allow children to suck, chew or play with deflated balloons.
  • Supervise your children at all times if they are playing with balloons.
  • Discard all broken pieces of balloons immediately.
  • Balloons can spread germs. Never put a balloon in your mouth after it has been in someone else’s mouth.
  • Some people are allergic to latex. Foil balloons are an excellent choice instead of latex balloons in this situation.
  • Try to keep balloons away from faces. If a balloon bursts it can hurt an eye or face.
  • When inflating balloons with air, it is better to use a hand-pump than blow them up orally as they may burst in your face