Bright, colorful, and lighter than air, nothing is more festive than helium balloons. Getting enough balloons to fill a venue can involve buying them already inflated or saving money by inflating them yourself. Pick up a tank of helium and a multipack of latex or mylar balloons to get started.
Using the Helium Tank
A helium tank is simple to use. Most tanks have a valve on the top of the nozzle to open or close the valve, and a nozzle at the side of the valve for filling balloons.
Open the Valve
Grasp the valve at the top of the tank and turn it counterclockwise until it stops moving. This opens up the valve completely
Affix the Balloon
Locate the nozzle on the helium tank. Slide the opening of the balloon at its bottom over the nozzle and hold in place between your finger and thumb. When blowing up a latex balloon, push the entire length of the balloon end you tie over the nozzle to keep it from expanding during inflation.
Blow up the Balloon
Press down on the nozzle to open it up and release gas into the balloon. It fills fast, so you only need to push down for a few seconds when filling smaller balloons. Fill latex balloons until they reach the recommended diameter listed on the packaging. This includes 9-, 18-, 26-, 32-, 38-, and 49-inch balloons. Allow the nozzle to return to its original position. Slide the balloon off the nozzle and pinch the opening tight between your thumb and forefinger.
Helium disperses quickly, so you only need to push down on the nozzle for a few seconds when filling smaller balloons.
Mylar balloons can explode when overinflated, since they aren't as elastic as latex. Only fill them until they are firm and smooth to the touch on the front and back. They will still have wide wrinkles at the sides.
Tying off the Balloons
Tying Latex Balloons
Tie the latex balloon by gripping it high up on the narrow opening, close to the inflated section of the balloon. Hold the end between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand. Stretch it a few inches, and then wrap the stretched section around the two fingers pressed against the inflated part of the balloon. Slide the open end under itself and above the two fingers. Pull the two fingers out of the loop you created and the loop should close instantly by creating a knot.
Pinch a ribbon between the two fingers that are holding the inflated base of the balloon to tie a ribbon to the balloon at the same time as you are make the knot.
Sealing Mylar Balloons
All Mylar balloons are self-sealing, except for the very small ones. When finished filling them with air, simply press the two sides of the foil balloon opening together to close. Use a heat sealer to close off those balloons that are not self-sealing. Wipe the stem of the balloon with the fingers to remove any dust. Set the sealer to a setting of two or three before pressing the balloon stem between the arm and base of the heat sealer. Slowly pull the stem out of the heat sealer and it will seal the mylar.
Two different methods are used for tying latex balloons and mylar balloons. Latex balloons are tied by hand, which can take a little practice. Small mylar balloons require special heat sealing equipment, but the larger mylar balloons are self-sealing.