3.充氦的橡膠氣球，應一顆球綁一個繫重物，勿把大量氣球綁在同一重物上 （Ｃａｌｉｆｏｒｎｉａ Ｌａｗ）因為一旦飛走氣球不會散開，容易掛在電線上，或是掉下後線會纏繞在動物身上而造成傷害。因此，只要遵守上面的之注意事項，氣球是十分安全環保的。
氦氣的份子十分細小因此可慢慢地穿過氣球表面漏走，比充了空氣的氣球較難保持膨脹度．平均來說，一個 11 吋氦氣球可保持提昇 12-18 小時而 16 吋氦氣球可保持提昇 24-36 小時．而對於充氦氣的空飄氣球，漂浮時間可在本網站的氦氣租借頁中作參考。
因為以天然橡膠製成的乳膠球容易發生光化學變化而造成分子間鍵結的斷裂，所以會失去原先的彈性。如果要克服這些問題，可以在氣球的成分內添加人工橡膠，例如Super-Hi Float，將其充入天然橡膠球以增加其彈性與漂浮時間，而在氣球表面則可塗氣球亮光劑 Balloon-Shine 以避免氣球因氧化而產生白霧化現象。不過這些額外的處理十分費時且昂貴，一般而言氣球師會以淺色系氣球來代替，因為顏色淺的氣球比較不會吸收光線與熱量，也因此比較不容易爆破。
膠乳是由生長在熱帶雨林的橡膠樹產生的乳狀液體．目前馬來西亞是全球最大的天然膠乳生產地． 只需用刀將樹皮 開便可見膠乳流出，這時可用杯將流出的膠乳盛載．這樣收取膠乳並不會對橡膠樹造成永久性傷害 ，而每株樹可供收取膠乳達 40 年之久．因橡膠樹可永久地產生利潤，因此人們不會砍伐它們而令熱帶雨林可得以永久保存．
玩具氣球是在 1824 年在英國發明．早期的氣球是用豬的膽囊做成，後期則以用製造雨鞋的橡膠做成．目前所見的乳膠氣球只有大約 7 ３年歷史 . 第一個發明乳膠氣球的人是英國一個名為 Tillotson 的化學工程師．在 1931 年 , 他嘗試用膠乳製造內 但不成功．一時貪玩，他用硬紙剪出一個貓狀並將紙浸入膠乳內，到乾了後他將該膠膜吹漲，很詫異地他發現吹出來的竟是一個貓狀氣球．他做了 2000 個這樣的氣球並在波士頓週年愛國日巡遊中賣出．這新發明瘋魔了群眾．其後他開設了全國最古舊及最大的氣球工廠．這工廠目前仍在生產其獨特的 "Tilly R " 乳膠氣球 .
天然的膠乳是白色的乳狀液體．它們通常是以油輪從生產國運到美國，再用火車或貨車運到各氣球工廠． 製造氣球的原料包括硬化劑，催化劑，油脂，染色劑及水等，所有原料會在大型開頂缸內混和再輸送到下面之氣球生產線．現時差不多所有氣球生產線都採用金屬模浸入法生產． 舉例說，生產圓形氣球的模具就像一小燈泡．但在將金屬模浸入膠乳之前，必須要將金屬模先浸入由硝化鈣，水及油製成的凝固劑混合液內，當凝固劑乾後即可開始生產氣球的工序．
現在，這差不多完成的氣球會連同金屬模一起以熱水沖洗去剩餘的硝化鈣，其後會放入溫度達華氏 200-220 度之烘焙機內令膠乳薄膜硬化 20-25 分鐘． 硬化後，氣球會從金屬模脫下進行印刷或包裝付運，而金屬模會重覆使用．
當把氣球充氣進行印刷時，它只會被充氣至 75 － 80 ％．這會令氣球表面有足夠張力令油墨印在表面．印刷用的油墨必須適合氣球使用，它們應適當地附在氣球膜上而不會滲入內層做成穿洞 . 油墨乾後，氣球便會被放氣並放入乾燥機內令其回復原狀再進行包裝．
與一般估計相反，氣球爆破時所發生的聲響其實並非因高壓氣體急速排放所造成的 ….. 它的能量其實沒有那麼大．實際上聲響是破裂的氣球膜以高於音速的速度回彈至原無張力狀態造成． 氣球愈充得漲張力就愈大，這就可解釋因何高張力的小氣球在爆破時所發生的聲響比張力較低的大氣球為大了．
氦氣是一種惰性氣體，亦即是非燃性，無毒，無放射性，由天然產生而對環境無害的氣體，也是除氫氣外第二種在宇宙內最豐富的物質．不過它在地球的存量卻十分稀少．在美國，它是從天然氣井及放射性石礦中提取出來．放射性石礦在 億萬年的敗變中會釋出一種 無放射性的副產品－ 氦氣 ．氦氣會在天然氣井內積聚並和天然氣一同被開發及後再分離出來．氦氣被廣泛使用在醫療方面．
根據研究所得，氦氣球會上昇到５里高空，那時氣球會在華氏零下 50 度環境下結冰．因氣球內壓比外壓高故最終會自行爆破形成碎片散佈各方，其後會在泥土內腐化．
銀色金屬狀的氣球於 1970 年後期 在紐約發展出來，它是由聚乙烯，尼龍及鋁箔夾層做成，因此氣球工業界普遍稱它為鋁箔氣球．它們的製造成本比乳膠氣球高很多．雖然它們的份子結構較乳膠氣球緊密，但氦氣也會從氣球接合部分慢慢流走的．
What are rubber balloons made from? Are they bio-degradeable?
Higher quality rubber (toy) balloons are made from a naturally occurring substance called Latex. Latex is 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 awhile. Exposure to elevated temperatures and sunlight quickens this process, but natural microorganisms will also attack and decompose natural latex rubber even in the dark. The total degradation time of a latex balloon will vary depending on the precise environmental conditions it encounters, but it can be as short as several weeks.
Latex is a naturally occurring milky sap that comes from rubber trees (Hevea brasilliensis) that grow in many of the world's rain forests. Currently, the country of Malaysia is the world's largest producer of natural Latex. The latex is collected by cutting the bark of the tree with a knife and catching the latex in a cup as it drips out. The process is very much like the way sap is harvested from maple trees to make maple syrup. This harvesting is accomplished all without doing permanent damage to the tree. A single rubber tree can produce rubber for about 40 years! Because rubber trees represent a nearly perpetual cash crop, this helps discourage people from cutting them down, which, in turn, helps preserve the rain forests of the world for future generations.
Toy balloons were invented in England in 1824. Its inventor is generally considered to be a chemical engineer from New England named Neil Tillotson, who in 1931, had become extremely frustrated while trying to make useable inner tubes from raw latex. So, just for fun, he scrawled the shape of a cat's head on a piece of cardboard, cut it out and then dipped it in the liquid latex to see what would happen. When the rubber dried, he inflated the little bag he had produced and found, much to his surprise, that he had made a "cat balloon"---complete with ears! He produced about 2000 of these balloons and sold them on the street corner at Boston's annual Patriot's Day Parade that year. Needless to say, the new novelty was a big hit with the crowds. The rest of the story, as they say, is history.
Pure Latex, in its natural form, is milky white in color. It is then either shipped by rail or trucked to the balloon manufacturer. To make it suitable for balloon production, various curing agents along with accelerators, oil, color, and water must first be added to the mix.
Latex balloons are manufactured by dipping metal balloon forms (in the same shape and size of the un-inflated balloon it will help produce) into these tanks of liquid Latex. For example, a balloon form for a round balloon is shaped like small light bulb. However, before the forms can be dipped into the liquid Latex, they must first be dipped into a coagulant that causes the rubber particles of the Latex to collect on the form. This coagulant is calcium nitrate, water, and/or alcohol. After the coagulant coated form is dried, the actual process of balloon making can commence.
In the next part of the process (most of which is automated these days) the variously shaped balloon forms are dipped "upside down" into the open-topped Latex tank at the proper point in the production process. For example, to make a round balloon, the form is dipped bulbous (top) end first. Because it is dipped "upside down", the excess Latex has a tendency to drip off the "top" of the form, making that part of the balloon just a little bit thicker than the bottom. This forms what is called a "drip tip" on that end. These are the little dark spots of thicker Latex you often see in the top center (or ends) of most inflated Latex balloons. It also follows that because the Latex at the top of the balloon is usually the thickest, the thinnest (and therefore the weakest) part of the balloon will usually be near its neck.
After dipping, the Latex coated forms are turned right side up again and are then passed through a set of revolving brushes that roll the balloon necks into the familiar looking beads or lips that aid in the inflation of the balloon (these beads are called "nubbins" in the balloon industry). In this part of the process, the excess (ragged) Latex at the bottom of the neck end of the balloon mold is rolled upwards (toward the bulbous or wide end of the balloon) by small motorized brushes. The brushes are positioned horizontally (one on each side of each row of molds) and are mounted so as to "point" toward the approaching molds. As the rows of Latex-coated molds progress down the production line, they pass between the rotating, cone shaped brushes. The brushes turn in opposite directions and lightly touch the molds at the neck (bottom) end, thus rolling the Latex into the familiar nubbin shape on each newly formed balloon. This process all occurs while the Latex is still uncured.
Now, the almost-completed balloon, still on its form, is washed in hot water to remove any unused nitrate. Following this process (called "leaching"), the balloon-covered forms are then put into an oven at 200-220 degrees Fahrenheit (in a process called "vulcanizing") to cure for 20-25 minutes. Once cured, the completed balloons are removed from their forms (stripped) and sorted for later imprinting or prepared directly for packaging and shipping. The metal forms are saved for later use and can be re-used over and over again in future production runs.
A fully automated balloon factory (running multiple (automated) production lines) can produce upwards of one million Latex balloons per day this way!
Most Latex balloons manufactured today are imprinted using one of three popular methods, depending upon the quantity, balloon size, delivery date, quality of the imprinting desired and/or other factors involved in the order. Contrary to popular belief, most imprinted Latex balloons manufactured these days are not hand stamped in a deflated condition as they once were! Rather, most are usually imprinted in an inflated state and are either sprayed, offset or screen printed.
When balloons are inflated for printing, they are only inflated to approximately 75 to 80 percent of the total capacity. This gives the proper tension to the surface of the balloon for the ink to successfully transfer. Specialized "balloon friendly" inks must also be used that at will penetrate (and adhere) to the surface of the balloon but yet not penetrate completely through the Latex into the interior, causing holes. Once placed on the balloon, the ink is then allowed to dry and the balloons are then deflated, drummed in rotating industrial dryers (to shrink them back to their "like new" condition) and then packaged.
One popular method of imprinting is what is called a spray balloon. In this process, balloon ink in various colors is simply sprayed onto balloons by a machine after automatically inflating them. The inflated balloons are rotated as the ink is sprayed on, usually in some form of recurring, all around pattern. The more popular sprayed-on patterns include multi-colored polka dots, squiggles, stripes, stars, music notes, candles, etc. These sprayed-on patterns result in an image that is not nearly as sharp as other, more labor intensive imprinting methods when the balloon is fully inflated for use. So, while this form of imprinting is a bit less expensive than the more labor intensive forms of imprinting, it also results in a less "bold" imprint on the balloon.
The next imprinting method is a form of offset printing . In this process, balloon ink is applied to a plate which reads right, the plate then transfers the ink to a printing drum, and the image reads wrong. The inflated balloon is then rolled across the printing drum transferring the image to the balloon. The image once again reads right.
A third, and increasingly popular method of printing (but probably the most labor-intensive) is called silk screening . In this process, a silk screen (onto which an image has been etched) is laid over an inflated balloon and balloon ink is then forced through the image area mesh in the screen and onto the balloon. The silk screening is usually done by using a holding device for the balloon that looks very much like a ordinary wooden box. A worker manually places an inflated balloon into the box and then slightly compresses the surface of the printing area of the screen onto the balloon prior to applying the ink with a roller-like device. This process may be repeated multiple times for a single balloon depending on how much of the balloon is to be imprinted (front, back, top, all around, etc.) This type of screening can also be done with an automatic machine on small to medium size balloons. Once the image(s) are placed on the balloons, the balloon is released and deflation begins. However, by the time the balloon is deflated, the ink must be dry in order to prevent offsetting it onto other balloons in close proximity. To speed this process along, newly imprinted balloons are sometimes placed (neck first) into a conveyor belt device that moves the balloons beside a line of heaters to help dry the ink as the balloons deflate.
As you can see, the process of imprinting balloons is a laborious, often manual (human-tended) activity. This is why imprinted printed latex balloons areso much more expensive than unprinted balloons to produce.
Contrary to popular belief, the loud noise you hear when Latex balloons burst is not due to the sudden release of high pressure gas contained inside the balloon...such pressure isn't all that great. Rather, the BANG is caused by the tightly stretched ends of the torn Latex balloon pieces exceeding the speed of sound (and, thus, creating a "sonic boom") as they quickly snap back to their pre-inflated size. Specifically, when a tiny crack develops in the surface of an inflated Latex balloon (such as when a pin pricks it) the resulting rapid release of energy stored in the stretched Latex accelerates the crack to near the speed of sound in rubber. Since this speed is much higher than the speed of sound in air, the running crack actually breaks the sound barrier! The loudness of the bang is usually dependent on how much the Latex is stretched before it bursts. This is why even small Latex balloons stretched to their limits will often make a much louder BANG when they burst than a larger balloon that is not stretched as tightly.
Helium is an inert gas, meaning it is non-flammable, non-toxic, non-radioactive, naturally occurring and environmentally friendly gas that, after Hydrogen, is the second most abundant element in the Universe. However, on Earth, Helium is very rare. In the USA it is mined, or more precisely, drilled for in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles from natural gas wells that also happen to be encased in radioactive rock. The rocks decay over millions and millions of years and, in the course of that decay, release a non-radioactive by-product --- Helium --- one molecule at a time! The Helium gas accumulates in the same pocket that produces the natural gas. Both are recovered together and then later separated. Helium is used widely in medical fields.
Helium-filled balloons float in air in much the same way than an inner tube floats on water. That is, if you stand underwater at the bottom of a large swimming pool and you also happen to have an inflated inner tube down there at the bottom with you, when you release the inner tube, it will quickly rise to the surface of the pool. That's because both the inner tube and the volume of air it contains weigh far less than the volume of water the inflated inner tube displaces. Hence, the inner tube quickly rises to the surface of the pool and then floats on top of the water.
Likewise, when you stand outside in front of your home, you are actually standing at the bottom of a "pool" of air that is many (many!) miles deep. So, when a balloon is inflated with Helium, it displaces a volume of air equal to the balloon's inflated size. As long as the total weight of the inflated balloon plus the Helium it contains is lighter than the volume of the relatively "heavier" air that it displaces, the balloon will tend to float to the "surface" of the pool of air surrounding it in much the same way that an inner tube floats to the surface of a swimming pool. However, in this case, the top of the "pool" of air is actually the top of the Earth's atmosphere!
While it's the small size (and hence the "lightness") of the Helium molecule that causes Helium-filled balloons to float, this attribute also creates a pesky problem when trying to keep Helium-filled Latex balloons inflated for long periods of time. Because Helium molecules are so much smaller than the space between the molecules of stretched Latex rubber, Helium will slowly seep out of a Latex balloon directly through the balloon's wall . This is why untreated Helium-filled Latex balloons only stay inflated for a relatively short period of time as compared to air-filled balloons.
On average, untreated 11 inch diameter Helium-filled Latex balloons can be expected to float for about 12-18 hours, and 16 inch diameter Latex balloons will float for up to 24-36 hours after being initially filled (your "mileage" may vary depending on temperature and atmospheric conditions!) Treating the inside of Latex balloons with a water soluble, transparent plastic material called Hi-Float will greatly help them hold their Helium longer. This product works because its molecular structure (plastic) is much "tighter" than Latex rubber, so it reduces the rate of Helium loss through the Latex balloon's outer wall.
Research has shown that after Latex balloons are launched, they often rise to an altitude of about five miles where they begin to freeze in the -50 degree Fahrenheit cold. In addition, the strong differential between the gas pressure inside the balloon and the near vacuum outside the balloon at that altitude causes the balloons to expand to the point were they eventually burst. However, because the Latex is frozen, the bursting balloon tears into shreds (the exact scientific term is called "brittle fracture"). These tiny, spaghetti-like pieces then scatter over a wide area as they fall back to Earth where they naturally begin to decay according to the process we discussed earlier.
Silver metalized balloons were first developed for the New York City ballet in the late 1970s. These balloons are sometimes (mistakenly) called "Mylar" balloons, but they are almost always made from sandwiched sheets of plastic (polyethylene) and nylon that are then coated with aluminum. Because of this, the balloon industry prefers to call them "foil" balloons. They are much more expensive to produce than ordinary Latex balloons. While the molecular structure of foil balloons is much "tighter" than stretched Latex, even with these balloons, Helium will still eventually seep out through the inflation seal of a foil balloon and leave them loosely sagging and flat.
Because foil balloons contain aluminum they are NOT considered to be biodegradable. What's more, as these balloons contain metal, they can (and will) conduct electricity. Thus, they should NEVER be released outdoors because they could become entangled with power lines and lead to commercial power outages.
Currently, there are several dozen companies worldwide who manufacture balloons. One of the largest is Pioneer Balloon Company, makers of theQualatexR line of balloons that we use almost exclusively in our balloon decor and entertainment efforts. Pioneer has the plant capacity to manufacture over 1 BILLION Latex balloons annually. That's over 4 million balloons a day from just one of the many balloon companies around the world now doing business. Any way you cut it, producing and marketing balloons has become a multi-billion dollar industry.
Balloons are fun. But, they should also be handled responsibly and discarded with caution if they happen to burst or otherwise reach the end of their brief, but nonetheless enjoyable lifetimes. So, a few words of caution are in order:
Article reproduced courteous from QBN.