“ Brand: D30 / Misc House Type: Party Supplies „
During the planning of a recent children's party, I decided that some helium filled balloons would add a bit of excitement to the event. Children love playing with buoyant balloons, and having a load for them should keep them occupied for a while, I thought.
I wanted a lot, but when checking the prices, I realised that to buy pre-filled balloons was going to lighten my wallet considerably. I decided on a compromise; buying the balloons and helium separately!
I found a 'D30' disposable helium cylinder for sale at www.click4balloons.co.uk for £17.95. This size of cylinder, about 15 inches tall, holds 13.4 litres of compressed helium which is enough to fill thirty standard sized balloons. Since prefilled balloons can cost several pounds each, I reckoned that this was quite good value for money. The value for money is lessened somewhat with delivery, making £22.90 in total. This works out at 76 pence per balloon fill, so not too bad.
Delivery took only a few days and then I was in charge of a small pink(!) gas cylinder. I quickly got some balloons ready (although the party was days away, I just had to TEST the cylinder first, didn't I?)
I was glad I did, since filling the balloons was slightly tricky. The cylinder has a valve at the top which must be turned anti-clockwise to open it (half a turn's enough). The valve outlet has a rubber nozzle over it, onto which the neck of the balloon is placed. To release the helium from the cylinder, the rubber nozzle is pressed down. When I tried this, I could not get it to operate at first, then the helium came out fast, half filling the balloon in a couple of seconds.
With practice, it's quite easy to use; grab the nozzle with the balloon fitted and gently press straight down. Helium is then released gradually. For a faster flow rate, the nozzle is simply pressed harder. I'm glad I tried it out beforehand, rather than in front of a gang of expectant, cynical kids!
After filling, it's a good idea to close the valve; relying on the nozzle to keep the cylinder sealed is likely to result in a prematurely empty cylinder and disappointed kids.
Now the fun could start. Having a cylinder of helium meant that I could fill whatever type of balloon I wanted, as well as letting the kids have a go under supervision (be prepared for them to let go of the balloon without tying a knot in the neck - helium filled balloons really FLY when released.)
On the day of the party, I prefilled about ten balloons. For best results, the manufacturer recommends filling the balloons one to two hours before use. I found little reason for doing this, the balloons worked well whether they'd just been filled or left for a couple of hours. Don't try to overfill the balloons. After several successes, I became overconfident and tried to see just how big a balloon I could get. All I managed to do was make my ears ring! The sound of the exploding balloon was the loudest I've ever heard, perhaps due to the helium it was filled with! Not pleasant.
I'm pleased to say that the party was a success, with no further explosions. We were able to fill several balloons for each child, allowing them to pick the shape and colour, before filling the balloon for them or allowing them to 'assist'.
We had a competition to see who could make a balloon and basket and balance it in mid air by adding and subtracting weight. Balloon tennis was great fun too with a just-buoyant helium balloon chucked from child to child each attempting to hit the wall or the ground in front of their opponent.
As it was nice weather, we even went fishing with the balloons! Tying a helium filled balloon to the line on a fishing reel allowed us to release the balloon into the air, up fifty yards or so, before reeling it back in; great fun, even though we must have looked a bit insane to the neighbours.
At the end of the party, we had the most satisfactory conclusion: exhausted kids! All from a small helium cylinder and a few cheap balloons.
Finally, a word of warning: there was a lot of interest in inhaling the helium to sound like Mickey Mouse (the speed of sound in helium is faster than in air due to helium's lower density, giving a higher pitched voice). I did not allow this as it can be dangerous. Whilst the odd breath of helium will not cause any harm, when you breathe helium, you're replacing air in the lungs and starving yourself of oxygen. Repeated tries at this can lead to dizziness, loss of consciousness and even death: not something we want to encourage kids to take up, in my opinion.
Overall, I was really impressed with my purchase. With enough helium to fill thirty balloons, this is reasonable value for money, and having the cylinder gives real flexibility on how to use it. I can definitely recommend this if you want helium balloons at your party.