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Balloon TLC

By Amanda Dolechek, CBA

Make sure you know how to properly store and inflate your balloons so you can provide the highest-quality product possible for your customers’ celebrations. 

Storing Your Balloons
Where do you keep your uninflated balloons? Different balloons actually have different properties that need to be taken into consideration when storing them. Qualatex latex balloons, for example, are 100 percent biodegradable; therefore, heat, humidity and light have a big effect on the quality of the latex. Proper storage of uninflated balloons is important in protecting them from these elements.

First of all, avoid exposing latex balloons to extreme temperatures — heat or cold. Storing your balloons at moderate temperatures will get the longest life out of them. When properly stored, uninflated latex balloons can last for several years before the quality is affected.

One major visible effect caused by excesses of heat, humidity, and light is oxidation, something that you’ve most likely seen before. Oxidation creates a cloudy, velvety appearance on the outside of latex balloons. While it’s a natural step in the balloon’s biodegradation process, the effects can be minimized. For optimum protection from light, store latex balloons in sealed, opaque containers. This also allows you to clearly label your balloons for easy access and organization. If you want to store latex in clear containers or Ziploc bags, then keep them inside a cabinet or a room where they’re not exposed to light.

Qualatex Bubble Balloons, on the other hand, are made of a stretchy plastic that doesn’t oxidize. However, Bubbles should be inflated immediately upon removal from their package, which contains a special moisture pack that keeps the material pliable and prevents popping. If you’re not going to inflate the Bubble right away, then re-seal the package with tape or transfer the uninflated Bubble to a re-sealable plastic bag (along with the moisture pack).

Microfoil balloons are also affected by heat, humidity and light, as well as extremely dry conditions. But if properly stored — especially in relation to humidity —they can last for several years.

Keep in mind that even if you store your uninflated balloons out of sight from customers, the balloon counter should still be the center of activity in your store! People love watching balloons being inflated, so this will generate excitement and interest — and potentially more sales.

Inflating with Care

By inflating latex balloons correctly, you’ll maximize float times and provide customers with a more aesthetically pleasing product. When inflating Round latex balloons, it’s important to fill them until a teardrop shape is achieved.

Over inflating balloons adds stress and opens up the pores of the latex so helium escapes faster. Under inflating balloons will reduce their float time because there’s less helium to lift the balloon’s weight. The use of a sizing template, such as the Qualatex ProSizer Templates, is helpful for inflating balloons fully and uniformly.

Inflated balloons are also affected by temperature. Heat causes helium to expand, and cold causes it to contract. So expect balloons to expand when moved from an air-conditioned room into warmer conditions. Likewise, helium-filled balloons may appear half full and not float when moved into much cooler environments. When they’re moved to a warmer climate, they’ll typically expand back to their original state.

A general rule is to slightly under inflate balloons when moving them from a cool environment to a warmer one, and slightly over inflate them when moving from warm to cool air.

To prevent oxidation of your inflated latex balloons, cover balloon deliveries with a large plastic bag, especially if they’ll be exposed for a long period of time. A balloon surface protector such as Balloon Shine — available from balloon distributors — can also be applied to the exterior of inflated balloons.

Bubble Balloons are different than latex and Microfoil balloons, but inflating them is easy when you know how. Be sure to inflate Single Bubbles and Deco Bubbles with a latex regulator instead of a foil regulator that has an automatic shut-off valve. You’ll need to use both a foil and a latex regulator for Double Bubbles, but read the directions on the package first for specific instructions.

Just remember that Bubble Balloons should be inflated until ALL the wrinkles in the seam disappear. The result will be a round, beach ball-like balloon that will float for weeks.

By following these simple balloon TLC tips, you’ll increase the performance of your balloons, as well as the level of customer satisfaction — a win-win situation for all!

Amanda Dolechek, Certified Balloon Artist (CBA), works for Pioneer Balloon Co. and writes for a variety of balloon industry websites and Qualatex publications, including Balloon Images and Balloon Magic–The Magazine.

Originally posted Tuesday, Jun. 29, 2010